Friday, June 15, 2007

Is the U.S. Open ready for Bubba?

Well, I missed another chance to retire early.

Imagine the odds I could’ve gotten two days ago on Bubba Watson being one shot out of the lead midway through the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

The Open and Bubba go together like stripes and plaids. But on a course that has dinged, dented and destroyed many of the best players in the world, Bubba and his pink-shafted driver are cruising along like it’s a friendly game back home in Bagdad, Fla.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Bubba posts a number somewhere in the 80s either of the next two days, but so far he’s handled Oakmont like it’s no big deal.

He’s throttled back his power, played smart golf and he’s suddenly a factor in a major for the first time, though he admitted Friday evening he’ll "feel like throwing up" all weekend.

He won’t have his buddy Boo Weekley in his pairing tomorrow, which will significantly decrease the biscuits and gravy talk, but in a tournament searching for a personality beyond that of the course, Bubba has stepped forward.

It seemed like every time you looked up Friday, there was Tiger or Phil or David Toms chopping it out of trouble. Then there was Bubba hanging around, letting the tournament come to him.

Bubba has taken to playing early-morning practice rounds with Woods recently, picking the brain of the world’s best player on any number of subjects related to golf. One thing he hasn’t asked Tiger about is how to handle the pressure of being in contention on a major championship weekend.

That’s something, Woods said, everyone has to learn for themselves.
Now it’s Bubba’s turn.

Ron Green Jr.