WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — His 2-under 68 wasn’t exactly the stuff of nightmares, yet Bubba Watson left the July 5 opening round of the Greenbrier chastising himself for poor shotmaking.
“I feel miserable. It was a terrible round of golf,” he said. “No confidence off the tee. Didn’t matter, par-3, didn’t matter iron off the tee, didn’t matter driver off the tee. Just no confidence. I played scared golf. My score shows a couple under par, but it was really bad.”
The 12th-ranked player in the world who was coming off a win at the Travelers Championship, Watson didn’t get the fast start he desired on the course where he owns a second home. Merely finishing the first round under par proved a struggle.
“It was one of those things where everything seemed like it was just off,” he said. “Chipping, putting, driving the ball, everything was just a little off. As frustration builds, that’s when I just kept talking to myself, trying to let some of that anger out.”
Watson will enter today tied for 44th.
“I really want to play well here. I feel like I was hitting the ball really well coming into this week. So it’s just heartbreaking to start falling back and not trusting what I’ve been doing all year,” he said.
“I shot 2-under, so I’m not out of it. Travelers a couple weeks ago, I shot even first round, and I did all right that weekend. So I’m not out of it. It’s just one of those things where I felt like I could really take it low today.”
O’DELL SHOOTS 72
Reigning West Virginia State Amateur champion Sam O’Dell, of Hurricane, struggled early and finished 2-over.
“I didn’t hit very many solid shots on the first nine holes,” he said. “For how bad I hit it there at the beginning, it could’ve been worse than 72.”
The Greenbrier cut line typically settles around par.
“You’ve got to shoot 4-under (today) and hope you’ve gotta shot,” O’Dell said.
Harper’s Ferry resident David Bradshaw made four birdies but finished even after a double-bogey on No. 16.
GREENBRIER AWAITS NEW DATE IN 2019
Greenbrier officials know their PGA tournament will be shifting away from the week of July 4 next year. They’re just not sure what the new date will be.
“The date is definitely changing,” tournament director Habibi Mamone told MetroNews “Talkline” on Thursday. “Rumor has it we might be the last week of September or the first week in October. But we don’t know.”
With the unveiling of next season’s PGA Tour schedule expected within days, the anticipation is growing — accompanied by anxiety over how sponsorships and volunteers would be affected by direct competition with college football and the NFL.
The inaugural Greenbrier tournament, in 2010, was staged in late July, and in 2012 it moved to the week of Independence Day, where it has remained ever since.
Regardless where the new date lands, Mamone said, “We’re looking forward to a bigger and better tournament next year.” She suggested the fall date could open up the field to high-profile players who are preparing now for the British Open.
PGA rules official Slugger White, a Beckley native, said the scheduling change could remove the deterrent of summer-time heat. Temperatures climbed into the 90s during Wednesday’s pro-am.
“The weather would be perfect — you know how nice it is here in the fall,” White said. “They’ve got a good volunteer base and hopefully everybody would come back.”
AN ‘OLD-SCHOOL CLASSY’ VIBE
After finishing fifth at this tourney in 2017, Kelly Kraft opened with a first-round 64 Thursday. Aside from playing precise golf, he’s developing an affinity for the Greenbrier Resort.
“It’s awesome — kind of like a throwback in time,” he said. “You’ve got all the crazy colors and the restaurants and you’ve got the casino downstairs.
“It’s just really classy. You don’t get that at a lot of resorts anymore, old-school classy.”