ATLANTA – You figure if you invite someone named Bubba to the club, it's only a matter of time before he's playing barefoot.
For Bubba Watson, that was his second shot of the day Thursday. His tee shot off No. 1 wandered so far right that it nearly found the pond guarding the front of the second green, going where no man has gone before. Off came his left shoe as he dipped that foot into the mire to punch the ball back to the fairway. And, yet, he still saved par on the hole, getting up and down from 81 yards. That's the Reader's Digest version of Bubba golf.
In general, Watson met his stated goal of playing more to the fairways of East Lake, that first hole notwithstanding. He hit nine of 14 fairways Thursday, tied for fifth best in the field.
And yet, still, the player who never has unlocked to secret to competing in the Tour Championship in five previous visits, shot no better than 70.
KOOCH AND THE SCARY HEADCOVER: Bad enough to shoot a non-descript 71 when you think your game is more robust than that. But to do it while having some sort of demon leprechaun riding on your bag just compounds the insult.
As he was Thursday, Matt Kuchar will be seen for the duration of the Tour Championship sporting an oversized Notre Dame-themed head cover. Such is the price for being a Georgia Tech man and losing a bet.
Here were the terms between Kuchar and his instructor, Chris O'Connell, a Notre Dame man: If Tech had beaten the Fighting Irish on Saturday, O'Connell would have had to sport a Georgia Tech bag for a year. Well, we know how that turned out. Now Kuchar is stuck with the headcover, but just for the rest of this week.
"And Chris picked out the ugliest head cover he could find," Kuchar said. No argument there.
As for his 1-over round, besides nearly holing out his approach to the par-4 12th, Kuchar was unimpressed. "Just an OK day. I thought I was playing well but not a great start, not an awful start."
GOLF IS A CRUEL MISTRESS: First it was Jim Furyk, felled by a sore wrist, withdrawing from the Tour Championship on Tuesday. On Thursday, from the battlefield of East Lake, came the report that Louis Oosthuizen went down with an injury mid-round. Not the kind of one you hear much about in golf – a hamstring. He had played 13 holes and was carted in from the 14th tee. ... Former Tech player Ollie Schniederjans got a taste of what it's like to be at the PGA Tour pinnacle, playing as a non-competing marker with Hideki Matsuyama (in place of the injured Jim Furyk). And he sure liked the view. Still trying to earn full-time playing privileges, Schniederjans said, "I was talking to my caddie about that – we want to be here so bad. This is definitely a goal to get here."... Here is the argument against having a par 3 – a tough one at that – as your closing hole. There was but one birdie Thursday on the 238-yard 18th, which hardly portended something electric at the close on Sunday.
This article was written by Steve Hummer and Chris Vivlamore from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.