With Bubba Watson‘s 3-under 69 in the first round of the 2014 Masters, he only sits one stroke back of the leader Bill Haas.
He has a real chance to win his second green jacket in three years. Watson didn’t record a bogey in his first round, which in itself is impressive for him. He recorded three birdies, and he really just played steady, smart golf, which Augusta National requires players to do. He was 2-under on the par 5s on Thursday, and Watson will need to continue to take advantage of the par 5s as his length off the tee gives him a real advantage over other golfers.
As Watson as matured as a player, he now understands when to take chances and when to play situational golf. Watson very quietly has had a solid year with five top-10 finishes, including a win at the Northern Trust Open. Watson also ranks 11th on tour with a 69.8 scoring average.
Augusta National is an ideal course for Watson. It’s truly a risk-and-reward course, and that’s what makes it so exciting to watch, especially on the weekend. Augusta National favors the long hitters, and it doesn’t punish a wayward drive because it doesn’t feature the rough of a U.S. Open or the fescue at an Open Championship. That is Watson’s game in a nutshell. He leads the tour in driving average, hitting it 317 yards per drive, but he ranks 138th in driving accuracy.
But the statistic that will be most important as the tournament wears on is that he is hitting greens at a highly successful rate. Watson is hitting the greens nearly 70 percent of the time this year, and in his first round, he hit 15 of 18 greens. That’s how you win at Augusta. If Watson continues to play this style of golf in the second and third rounds, he will be there on Sunday.