Just twice in 10 PGA Tour starts thus far in the 2016-’17 PGA Tour season has the slumping Bubba Watson broken par, his best round being a 69 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open—an event in which he actually missed the cut. Suffice it say, then, that the two-time Masters champion was quite happy with his opening six-under 66 Thursday at the European Tour’s Shenzhen International in China.
“I just made putts today,” Watson said, after taking the lead in the first round at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen. “Most of my swings and most of my shots were really good today and there were no bad swings in there so it just made the score better.”
Watson made five birdies and an eagle in recording his best opening round since the 66 he shot en route to victory at the Northern Trust Open in February 2016. He finished the day the leader by one over a group of five players with the first round to be completed on Friday after a rain delay halted play for two hours.
Coming into the event, Watson has gone 14 months without a top-10 finish, also dating back to his Northern Trust win, and has seen in place on the World Ranking drop to No. 22, the lowest it has been since 2014.
Watson’s 66 is the lowest opening-round score he has ever posted in non-major, non-WGC European Tour event.
This is the third year that Watson has played in the Shenzhen International, having finished T-29 in 2015 and T-8 in 2016.