Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

His patience tested to the extreme, Bubba Watson performs admirably in first round


Rob Carr/Getty Images

June 17, 2016

OAKMONT, Pa. -- Bubba Watson is not the patient type. He’s fidgety and twitchy, antsy and nervous. I was once in an elevator with him and when the doors opened his eyes were darting everywhere among the passers by. Uncomfortable was an understatement.

The U.S. Open, particularly one at Oakmont, er, Soakmont, is all about patience, not petulance. In that regard, Watson has comported himself quite well so far.

Friday morning, Watson played his final four holes of the opening round and finished with a 1-under 69 to sit within three strokes of the early lead. It marked the first time in 10 appearances in the event that he has broken 70 in the first round.

It was also impressive how Watson was able to hold himself together after play had been delayed three times a day earlier because of weather. It turns out the first of those delays might have actually helped the two-time major winner.

When play was halted the first time on Thursday, Watson was one over with three bogeys and two birdies through seven holes. When it resumed, he rattled off three straight birdies before ending the day at two under through 14 holes and just a stroke off the lead.

“It was funny because [Thursday] with that delay, I know we didn't get to warm up, but there's a lot of times in practice rounds I never see the range until the opening round of the tournament,” he said. “So for me, that hour delay didn't affect me that we didn't go back out and warm up. So for me, it actually calmed me down.

“So you're anxious. You're so excited. You're pumped up, knowing that you have the ability to perform at these events. So that hour delay gave me time to joke around with the boys and just have fun. So I just got away from the -- my own pressure that I'm putting on myself…So it just freed me up, I guess you would say, that delay.”

Now the test will be if he can remain patient, or in rhythm. With the afternoon wave of the second round being pushed back to a Saturday morning start, Watson will go nearly 24 hours without hitting a shot in competition.

The good news is he’ll be able to get plenty of rest.

“I need 12 hours of sleep,” Watson said. “I get cranky.”