April 10, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Bubba Watson is a five-time PGA TOUR champion. (Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A year ago, Bubba Watson acknowledges he felt the pressure.
He came to Augusta National to defend the Masters title he won in a 2012 playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. Watson served grilled chicken breast, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn and macaroni and cheese at the Champions Dinner. He was the darling of television cameras and tape recorders everywhere.
And then Watson didn't break 70 at Augusta Nationa, eventually tying for 50th after a final-round 77.
"For me it was just overwhelming, the Champions Dinner, everybody still congratulating you, so I just never got the focus," he said. "I played really bad on Sunday last year."
Watson returned to Augusta National this week with a different outlook, though -- and the approach appears to be working after a bogey-free 69 that left him one shot off Bill Haas's lead. Interestingly, he's tied with this year's defending champion, Adam Scott, and his playoff opponent in Oosthuizen.
"I'm coming back with the take that I want the jacket again," Watson said. "I'm coming back with a different mindset, full of energy. I haven't had any media this week, because nobody cares about the guy a couple of years ago. So it's been good."
Watson also returns playing extremely well after a win at the Northern Trust Open and a pair of runner-up finishes this year. Thursday's bogey-free round was just his second in a major -- the first coming at the 2009 U.S. Open where Watson tied for 18th.
"It was really solid," Watson said. "... I'm not trying to look at leaderboards. I don't want to give my secret, but I'm trying to just hit greens. Whatever that comes out. Today I missed two greens. I missed one by six inches, missed one by three feet. I putted both of those, made pars.
"So I'm just trying to hit greens. If I can hit greens that means I've hit good tee shots and I hit good iron shots, and just trying to make par from there and throw in a birdie here and there. And that's what I did today."