SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bubba Watson came to the French Open to experience a new culture but the move backfired as he blamed the local spectators’ behavior and poor security on the Albatross course Friday for his disappointing performance.
Watson missed the cut after shooting 3-over 74 in the second round for a 6-over 148 total.
“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 rarely plays in Europe. He was apparently affected by the permissive culture in France as spectators snapped photos and recorded videos while he was playing.
“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.”
Watson 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 but acknowledged that the culture on the European Tour was different from the one on its American counterpart.
He also acknowledged that 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.”
Ironically, Watson 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 by Thursday Watson felt homesick after carding a 3-over 74 in the first round saying, “I miss my home.”
Despite his unhappy experience in Europe, Watson was adamant about participating in the British Open this month.
“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.”