By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio — Bubba Watson won’t lack for support this week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
His wife Angie’s family came down from Canada to watch him play. And while he wasn’t in Watson’s gallery on Thursday — grandmother was babysitting — the couple’s young son, Caleb, is with the clan in Akron.
"It’s been fun," Watson said. "Golf has obviously changed a lot since winning the Masters, but also knowing that a bad shot means nothing. My child doesn’t know if I shot 66 today or if I shot 86. So that’s the fun part, going home and playing with him and watching him smile and giggle and watching him roll over. He’s just been rolling over nonstop."
Just so everyone else knows, though, the 66 Watson shot in the first round at Firestone left him tied for the lead with Luke Donald and Ben Crane when the morning wave finished. It was a solid outing, too. He used driver 11 times and hit seven fairways, then managed 14 of 18 greens in regulation and used just 29 putts.
Of course, there have been lots of solid rounds for Watson, who ranks fifth in the FedExCup and has won more than $3.7 million. The Masters was obviously the highlight but Watson feels there are more good things to come.
"We’re onto the World Golf Championship here in Akron, and then we’re off to the PGA, so I’ve got other things I want to do, not just live and dream on the one Masters that I won," Watsons said. "A lot of people (talk about the Masters), but for me that’s in the past. Now we’ve got to move forward, keep going."
Watson started on the back nine and vaulted up the leaderboard with a sizzling stretch that saw him birdie the last three holes on putts of 6, 10 and 10 feet before he made the turn. A bogey briefly hailed the momentum but he got that back — and more — with an 8-iron on the par-5 second hole that left him 10 feet for eagle.
"The course is in great shape," Watson said. "First off, the greens are perfect. They’re running real fast. Today was ideal. No wind. Sunshine. Ball was really traveling far today because of the humidity. There’s scoring conditions out there right now. I hit my driver somewhat decent, so I had the ability to hit short irons in there and score."
Caleb’s daddy has improved each time the 6-month-old has traveled, too. Missed cuts at the Memorial and U.S. Open were followed by a tie for second at the Travelers Championship.
"So he’s getting better. We’re not going to miss the cut this week," Watsons said, well aware that all 78 players in the global event play four rounds this week.