B. Watson misses cut at French Open, blames distracting French fans

bubba watson
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After two straight 74s in Paris, Bubba Watson was 16 shots behind 36-hole leader James Morrison and heading for home.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Bubba Watson missed the cut Friday at the European Tour’s Alstom French Open, suggesting fan behavior and poor security contributed to his disappointing performance.

Watson shot a 3-over 74 in the second round for a 6-over 148 total on the Albatross Course at Le Golf National, where the 2018 Ryder Cup will be played, and was 16 shots behind 36-hole leader James Morrison.

“It’s not a normal tournament,” Watson said. “There’s cameras, there’s phones, there’s everything. There’s no security. I don’t know which holes to walk through. There’s no ropes.”

Watson has won two titles this year but this was his first appearance in Europe. He was apparently affected by the permissive culture in France that allows spectators to snap photos and record videos during play.

“I’m not used to that,” Watson said. “I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just something I’m not used to, I’m not comfortable with. It’s very strange to me. Just very uncomfortable.”

The American lefty complained that the rules were not respected by the fans.

“Every tee says ‘no phones, no video cameras’ and on every tee there’s hundreds,” Watson said.

Tournament Director David Probyn was disappointed for Watson but hopes that he will come back, saying the player would be welcome.

“It’s a shame Bubba has felt that way,” Probyn said. “I’m absolutely sure that other players have been put off by it … but I haven’t had any other complaint this week.”

Probyn disagreed with Watson’s comments on security issues. However, he acknowledged the culture on the European Tour was different from its American counterpart.

“Every fairway is roped. We’ve got marshals on every hole,” Probyn said. “It’s probably true to say that we do not use professional security in the same way as they do on the PGA Tour.”

He also said the European Tour was trying to adapt to spectators using mobile phones and other gadgets on a daily basis.

“It’s kind of reality wherever you go,” he added. “It is then about educating people. How to use them and where to use them, and that’s something that you’ll see changing over the short to middle term.”

Watson said he came to Europe to experience a new culture.

“The reason to come over here was just to experience it,” Watson said this week before the start of the tournament. “I’ve played on the U.S. Tour the whole time and just wanted to come over here, just to experience a different culture, a different life, a different golf, a different atmosphere.”

But soon Watson felt homesick after carding a 3-over 74 in the first round.

“I miss my home,” Watson said Thursday.

Some of the most famous landmarks in the world apparently didn’t stick with him after touring Paris on Tuesday.

“I don’t know the names of all the things, the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch (Arc de Triomphe), whatever I rode around in a circle,” he said. “And then what’s that -- it starts with an ‘L’ -- Louvre, something like that. One of those.”

After saying it might be his last time playing in Europe, Watson said he would play the British Open in two weeks. He wasn’t sure if he would fulfill his commitment to play the Scandinavian Masters in Sweden.

“I’ll play the British Open because it’s a major, that’s the only reason,” Watson said. “I’m going to go sightseeing real quick and then probably sightsee tomorrow (and) get home as fast as possible.”

At the top of the leaderboard, Morrison of England shot a 5-under 66 Friday to take a one-shot lead.

Richard Green of Australia had a 68 to slip into second place. Mark Foster shot a bogey-free 68 to move to third, four strokes behind Morrison’s total of 132.

Along with Watson, Peter Hanson (147), Francesco Molinari (149), Pablo Larrazabal (149) and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez (150) were among the players who failed to make the cut.

Morrison made par on his first 10 holes before a string of five birdies in seven holes to move four strokes ahead of overnight leaders Green and Graeme Storm. Green made three consecutive birdies on his back nine to overtake Morrison, but a double bogey on the seventh hole cost him the lead.

Martin Kaymer of Germany stayed in contention with a 69 for a share of 14th place. The 2009 winner had six birdies but also dropped four shots.

Jimenez had a nightmarish round despite an eagle and a birdie, making a quadruple bogey on No. 13 and six bogeys.

Morrison leads two days after he nearly pulled out because of illness. The 26-year-old has suffered from Crohn's Disease -- an intestinal inflammation -- for the past decade and it flared up again at the start of the week.

"I almost drove home Wednesday morning, but I've had some steroids and it's calming me down," Morrison said.

"It's something I've been used to dealing with on a daily basis," he added. "I'm feeling a little bit drained, but I play better with that because I don't have expectations. I feel a bit worse for wear and just stroll through the day."

Morrison had missed his last four cuts and last July crashed out by eight shots here, but covered the front nine in a 5-under 31 to take over at the top.

Joint overnight leader Green then reached 11 under, but a double-bogey 6 on the seventh meant they swapped places again. Storm, the other player to start with a 65, came to grief with a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 18th, hitting two balls into the lake short of the green.