Golf

Bubba Watson not a fan of Blue Monster redesign at Doral

Bubba Watson on the 12th tee during the first round of the World Golf Classic-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Doral, Florida, March 5, 2015.
Bubba Watson on the 12th tee during the first round of the World Golf Classic-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Doral, Florida, March 5, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Bubba Watson, even though he is well up the leaderboard in a tie for fourth place, doesn’t always appreciate the newer, tougher Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral.

“The golf course, no, I can’t stand the golf course,” Watson said after shooting 3-under-par 69 on Friday in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral, leaving him five strokes back of leader J.B. Holmes.

“The course is way too tough for me,” Watson continued. “Very, very difficult for my style of play. Donald Trump, he put together a tough one for me. Seemed like I was in sand all day, like I was back in Pensacola Beach.”

Watson, who had two eagles in just a three-hole stretch Friday, is usually known for his lengthy but sometimes erratic drives. However, he said an improved short game is keeping him near the top of the Cadillac leaderboard.

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been my short game that’s making me a better player,” he said.

NO. 1 CRITICIZED

Before Gil Hanse’s redesign of the course, the par-5 No. 1 hole counted as the course’s aviary with birdies the norm and eagles as common as corruption.

It still played the second easiest on the course last year behind No. 8, and the easiest in Thursday’s first round, averaging .425 under par.

Not so Friday.

It still tied the par-4 No. 11 with an .082 under-par average as fifth easiest but was far more demanding.

Holmes made one of the day’s six bogeys on that hole after his second-shot approach with a 6-iron hit the front of the green, rolled up the green, then rolled right and down the slope like a water-park log ride.

“It’s pretty bad that you can hit two perfect shots and the ball can go in the water because of a ridiculous green design that’s really just terrible,” Holmes said. “The shape of the green is fine, and it’s not that wide anyways. Why you would put a giant hump in the middle of it to make a ball go in the water … it’s stupid. The golf course is hard enough. You don’t have to do that.”

Adam Scott, who is in third place at 6-under after a 68 Friday, made par on No. 1.

“The green is just incredibly difficult,” he said. “It’s not inviting to hit any kind of long iron in at all with this kind of firmness, and it almost would be foolish to because I can pretty much tell you the outcome of what’s going to happen if you pitch a long iron on the green.

“It pretty much forces you to lay up and test your pitching game.”

PAST WINNERS

Of the four past Doral winners in the field, perhaps it’s not surprising that the one who won the one previous tournament since the course’s redesign, 2014’s Patrick Reed, has the best position after two rounds.

What’s surprising is that position is tied with five others at even-par 144.

Justin Rose, who came from behind on the final day in 2012 to beat Watson, is tied for 31st at 3-over 147. Phil Mickelson’s many fans will have to get to the course earlier than usual Saturday — 10:05 a.m. — as the 2009 winner is at 4-over 148 and tied for 41st.

The 2008 winner, Geoff Ogilvy, is at 6-over 150, leaving him tied for 57th.

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