Bubba Watson was in good humor when he met the press on Monday, joking about the issues in his head, shanking shots at Royal Lytham & St Annes, finding the ocean should he bash a ball Bubba-style out of bounds, and even getting a plug in for his equipment provider.
So when the chat moved on to who might actually win this week’s British Open, and how 15 different players had won the last 15 majors, Watson served up a curveball.
“And we’re going to change that this week,” the reigning Masters champ quipped. “Keegan Bradley, he’s going to win.”
Watson may have been jibing, but with nine of the previous 10 major trophy-lifters first-timers to the winner’s circles in golf’s most prestigious events, the odds appeared to be against the New Englander who owns the 2011 PGA Championship hardware. Indeed, two-time British Open champ Padraig Harrington said repeat winners in the majors was not the norm — unless your name happened to be Tiger Woods.
“People think that’s unusual [15 majors/15 winners],” Harrington said on Tuesday, “but what’s unusual was Tiger winning 14 over that stretch of time.”
Bradley, by the way, was one of several contestants to voice concerns about the brutality of conditions at Royal Lytham & St Annes, brought on by one of the wettest summers in England’s history.
“I tried not to hit any out of the rough today but I will for the rest of the week,” the Vermont native said on Monday. “It’s very spotty. One foot to the left, you are hitting into the green; another foot and you are chipping out to the fairway. It’s a flip of the coin whether you’re going to get a good lie or not.”
Bradley’s comments about the rough at the site of this week’s Open Championship were on the milder side compared with those of Woods and other competitors for the 2012 Claret Jug. While Woods said that some places were “almost unplayable,” Englishman Paul Casey termed the deep stuff “brutal.”
With rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, things were unlikely to get much better for the players, so Woods got in a full practice round immediately after landing in England on Sunday.
“That’s why I did a lot of work out here because come the next few days, you probably won’t be able to get any,” Woods told reporters after making his way around the 7,128-yard, par-70 links course. “A lot of the bunkers had standing water in them so it will be interesting to see how much more water they can take.”