In the three seasons prior to 2017, Bubba Watson had won five times, amassed more than $16 million in earnings and reached as high as second in the Official World Golf Ranking. Conversely, while he's finished in the top-10 three times this season, it's not been a vintage year for the two-time Masters champion. He found a bit of form at the Open Championship last week, finishing T-27 at Birkdale in an event he's missed the cut in four times in nine tries. The lefty rode that momentum into Thursday at the RBC Canadian Open, posting a bogey-free six-under 66 at Glen Abbey Golf Course and sits just one off the lead with the first round suspended at day's end due to rain delays.
Excluding the unofficial Hero World Challenge and the Zurich Classic team tournament, the 66 is Watson's low round of the season, and a rare bogey-free one at that. Watson, 38, has shown flashes of greatness this season while simultaneously struggling to post strong finishes. He's nearly fallen outside of the top-50 in the official world golf ranking and made less than $1 million. A strong performance at the Jack Nicklaus course outside of Toronto this week could be just what he needs to salvage his season.
Watson trails five players tied for the lead at seven under, including Ollie Schniederjans, whose 65 was bogey-free and featured two eagles on the par-5 13th and 18th holes. The former Georgia Tech standout has put together an impressive 2017 campaign that includes a T-3 at the RBC Heritage, four top-10s and six top-25s.
Three PGA Tour winners, Hudson Swafford, Matt Every and Kevin Chappell also posted seven-under 65s.
Also at seven under is the long-hitting Brandon Hagy. The PGA Tour rookie is looking for his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Despite admitting that he was still feeling the effects from his Masters back injury, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson carded a five-under 67 and sits two off the lead.
Canada's Mackenzie Hughes is also just two back after posting a five-under 67.