CROMWELL, Conn. — Bubba Watson is from a tiny city on the Florida panhandle referred to as Bagdad.
Yet this a part of Connecticut, significantly TPC River Highlands, the place the Travelers Championship is performed, appears like house to him.
Watson has received 12 PGA Tournaments in his profession. Three of them — in 2010, 2015 and 2018 — have come on the Travelers.
After taking pictures a second consecutive 4-under 66 on Friday to get to 8-under and stand one shot out of the 36-hole lead held by Jason Day (9-under), Watson is in place to win for a fourth time.
Day, who shot a scalding 8-under 62 in the second spherical, although he mentioned he has been experiencing soreness and stiffness, holds a one-shot lead over Watson and Kramer Hickok and a two-shot lead over seven gamers at 7-under, together with Justin Rose and Kevin Kisner, each of whom shot 63 Friday.
Should Watson win, it will tie him with Billy Casper for probably the most wins in this occasion.
“It could be with nice firm, however neglect that, simply successful right here or successful anyplace 4 occasions, or 4 occasions ever on Tour … all these issues add up,’’ Watson mentioned. “It was a kind of issues the place by no means dreamed I might win that many occasions, and now at one place having an opportunity to get 4 occasions and tie one of many greats of all-time [would] be a thrill of a lifetime.’’
The humorous factor concerning the Watson relationship with TPC River Highlands is that the wedding received off to a rocky begin.
“The first time I ever performed right here, I shot I believe a 74-74 [73-72 and missed cut] and I used to be like, ‘Man, I’m by no means coming again right here,’ ’’ Watson mentioned. “Then Travelers began coming round to everyone and saying, ‘Hey, we’re going change the vary.’ The outdated vary right here, you couldn’t hit driver. So, they mentioned they have been going to vary that and begin doing higher for the gamers and caddies, trainers, physios.
“There was lots of issues they have been going to do to amp up [the tournament]. It introduced a unique environment. The crowd received behind it, the group.’’
Watson, too, was moved by the event’s involvement with The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which is a year-round middle serving youngsters and their households dealing with most cancers and different critical diseases and situations and is a beneficiary of cash raised by the event.
“Finding my means by means of life you do various things in your life which might be so impactful, significant, and going to the completely different locations round right here like, ‘Hole in the Wall Gang Camp,’ seeing that, feeling the power of those children, listening to their songs that they sang for me and my spouse at lunch, was superb,’’ Watson mentioned. “Then, my first win right here [came] with my dad watching [in 2010]. So many issues that occurred with my household at this place, this group. It simply means a lot to us.
“So, once I get right here, I simply really feel energized. I really feel just like the persons are behind me and so they’re pulling for me.’’
Watson, too, is a basic horses-for-courses case research. Eight of his PGA Tour wins have come on three programs — the three at TPC River Highlands, three at Riviera in Los Angeles and two at Augusta National.
“If you have a look at a few of [my favorite] programs, it’s at all times programs you’ll be able to transfer the ball ahead,’’ Watson mentioned. “It’s no enjoyable for me to need to chip out sideways from the tough. But out of tough [at this course], you’ll be able to at all times transfer it ahead. Augusta, you’ll be able to nonetheless hit pictures, despite the fact that they’ve just a little tough now. You can play pictures out of the timber, off the pine straw, out of that little little bit of tough.
“L.A., [where] I’ve received a number of occasions as nicely [at Riviera], there may be not likely any tough. You can maneuver the ball from many various spots on that golf course. Same factor as right here.’’
Watson, for instance, has by no means been a robust U.S. Open participant. After first two days of the Open final week at Torrey Pines (72-67), he flamed out on the weekend with 77-76 to complete in a tie for fiftieth.
Watson clearly felt liberated when he arrived right here.
“When you come off the U.S. Open, all the pieces appears simpler,’’ he mentioned. “I really feel like after the U.S. Open, that is mild tough. Even although that is heavy tough, it’s nonetheless lighter than U.S. Open and you are feeling like you’ll be able to at all times transfer the ball ahead. Any golf course the place I really feel like I can at all times transfer it ahead from the tough [to] the green, then I really feel good round it.’’
It all makes Watson maybe the participant to observe over the weekend.