Gerry Dulac: Bubba Golf halfway to jacket No. 2


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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson said he has a secret that isn't really a secret. At least, not anymore. Not after he blurted it out.

Watson let everyone in on his game plan after the first round when he said all he wanted to do at Augusta National Golf Club was hit greens and avoid looking at leader boards.

For two rounds, he has at least accomplished part of his goal. He has missed eight greens, made only two bogeys and doesn't have a three-putt in the first two days of the 78th Masters.

He had no choice but to violate his other personal rule. Watson couldn't help but notice he is at the top of the leader board after two rounds, thanks to a second-round 68 that gave him a three-shot lead heading into the weekend.

But, make no mistake, there is no secret about what Watson hopes to accomplish the next two days.

"I'm trying to get the jacket back," said Watson, the 2012 Masters champ. "You want that feeling again. You want that back."

Get ready for Bubba Golf, Augusta National.

Here it comes.

Again.

It was on full throttle early Friday when the hills and valleys at Augusta National had a Tiger-esque shake to them. Watson went charging through Amen Corner with five consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-3 12th, and his gallery kept swelling with each wonderful stroke.

Watson hadn't made a bogey in two days at Augusta National until he missed the green at the 460-yard ninth, ending his streak of 26 holes without dropping a stroke.

Then, after his back-nine assault in which he made five consecutive birdies, he ended his round with another bogey, this time when he missed the green from the middle of the fairway.

No matter. Watson was so far in front that, with the winds gusting and swirling through the hills and valleys on the back nine, nobody was going to get within three shots of his 7-under 137 total.

"It's no science here -- it's try to hit the greens," Watson said. "If you're hitting the greens, that means you're hitting your irons well, it means you're hitting your drives well. That's all I've been doing for two days. It's worked out well."

The player who says he has never taken a lesson, who makes his way around the golf course hitting what he calls "a lot of slap-cuts," has been hitting a lot of good shots for two rounds at Augusta National.

Watson missed only two greens in the first round when he shot 69. He missed six in the second round, but five came in the first 11 holes, before he started his birdie onslaught.

He did not do that last year, not at the Masters, where he finished tied for 50th one year after his playoff victory against Louis Oosthuizen; and not on the PGA Tour, where he failed to win in 21 starts and didn't even make the Presidents Cup team.

Watson blamed his indifferent performance in 2013 on a Masters "hangover."

"When you think about that, it's an accomplishment for a guy named Bubba, with my mom, my upbringing," Watson said. "My year, my career, was complete after that win. I've never been drunk before, but I had a hangover from the green jacket.

"What it is, it drains you a lot more than you know. So as soon as you win, you get a green jacket on you. Every sponsor that you have, every company you represent, they want a piece of your time, they want more of your time."

Bubba is fighting back. He already won the Northern Trust Open in February and has had second-place finishes at the Phoenix Open and at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral. Now he is in position to become the 17th player to win multiple green jackets.

"It's going to take me some time," Watson said. "You know, I do everything my way. I learned the game my way. I figured it out my way. So it just takes me a little bit longer with the mental focus and the drive to get back to where I am today."

That's why it's called Bubba Golf.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.

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