Watson talks of the brutal challenge that awaits at Olympic
In the gentleman’s sport of golf, getting players to speak candidly isn’t easy.
So thank goodness for Masters champion Bubba Watson, who raised questions about the set-up of this week’s U.S. Open.
“Oakmont was probably the toughest course I’ve seen,” Watson said. “I think here matches it, maybe a little bit tougher.”
While most of the discussion has centered on the difficulty of the first six holes at Olympic Club in San Francisco, the ones Watson is dreading the most are Nos. 13 and 14.
“You could actually hit the ball on the green and end up in the hazard. I don’t understand why they did that,” Watson said of No. 13, a 199-yard par 3. “Next hole, 14, they moved the fairway over. I hit it in the middle of the fairway, but had to slice a 9-iron about 40 yards just to hit the green. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Watson wasn’t done talking about No. 13.
“If you’re a foot off, I can land it with a small cut on that green and be in the hazard. So that’s not about -- Are you ready? That’s about -- One foot over, one foot the other way, it’s in the hazard or it’s on the green,” Watson said. “I’m ready. [But] this golf course is going to be so tough, it doesn’t matter if you’re ready, it can make you look silly if it wants to.”
Here are Watson’s comments on a few other holes:
On No. 1 (a 520-yard par 4) – “You’ve got a par-5 that’s a par-4,” Watson said. “It’s 522 or 520. You’ve got to slice it if you’re a right-hand player, you’ve got to hook it if you’re a left‑handed player, to a 20-yard wide fairway. You know, it’s not like you can shape shots and make it go that far and still have a short iron in. You’re talking about guys hitting 3‑woods and hybrids into a par‑4, first hole. Normally the first hole is an easy hole. And this is not easy.”
On No. 4 (a 438-yard par 4) – “I landed it in the fairway with a driver. I sliced it about 40 yards. It landed right in the center of the fairway and still went in the right rough because it slopes so much. But we’d rather have a hundred yard shot than 200 yards from the middle of the fairway, so we’re going to play it that way.”
On No. 5 (a 498-yard par 4) – “I hit 2‑iron off that tee and I still had 220 yards to the hole. And I was in the middle of the fairway. You can’t hit driver. You can, I guess. But to be smart you can’t hit driver on some of these holes. And you’re just leaving yourself with long irons to a rock hard green, well-guarded greens, small greens.”
On No. 6 (a 489-yard par 4) – “I laid back off that bunker yesterday and still had 4‑iron into a small green, bunkers all around, deep rough all around. That’s not fun to hit 4‑iron into a par‑4 that could be rock hard.”
On No. 7 (a 288-yard par 4) – “Yeah, you can go for it. But we dropped the ball in the middle of the green, just dropped the ball on that slope and it rolled all the way off the front of that green. If you’re chipping you can’t stop it on the green. There’s something about every hole.”
On No. 16 (a 670-yard par 5) – “I don’t know why it needs to be 670 with the deepest rough of the golf course. There’s going to be people that don’t get there in three because they hit it in the rough and the lie is bad,” Watson said. “I hit two perfect shots from the back tee. I hit driver, driver and I had 60 yards from the middle of the fairway.”
On what the scoring for holes 1 through 6 would be – “Hopefully for the field, about 8‑over, and I’m about 7‑over.”
So much for the power of positive thinking. Watson sounds resigned to struggling.
“I don’t want to come out here and shoot an 80,” Watson said. “There’s an 80 lurking.”