The darling of the golf world after nearly winning the British Open at age 59, Watson shot an even-par 72 on Friday at the U.S. Senior Open to finish the first two rounds at 1 under ' 11 strokes behind amateur Tim Jackson.
I dont like being this far behind, Watson said. Im going to have to drive the ball better, put myself in a better position.
Watson said the wind came from a different direction Friday, making it tough for someone who was unfamiliar with the course and had just one practice round before starting competition. He said the Pete Dye-designed course is tough.
Youve got land mines here and land mines there, a lot of blind shots, Watson said. He (Dye) always blinds you, you can never get a good look at where youre going. So, youre always kind of guessing, and thats what makes it tough for me.
Despite falling behind, Watson has heard steady cheers this week. He said he hasnt tired of people reminding him of the British Open performance.
Playing the game as many years as I have, anytime you get a round of applause, it means maybe youve still got a little bit of it, havent lost it all.
TWO-AND-DONE: Several big-name players missed the cut.
Tom Kite, Fuzzy Zoeller, Lanny Wadkins and Ben Crenshaw were among those who wont be playing Saturday.
Kites 8-over performance ended his streak of top-10 senior finishes at five. He tied for eighth at the Senior British Open.
Zoeller, the local favorite who lives about 120 miles from the course, shot a 3-over 75 on Friday to finish at 9 over.
Wadkins shot a respectable 2-over 74 on Friday, but that wasnt enough to overcome the disastrous 12-over 84 he posted on Thursday.
Crenshaw, second in the U.S. Senior Open in 2007, finished at 10 over.
REBOUNDERS: Hale Irwin, Robin Freeman and defending champion Eduardo Romero bounced back from rough performances Thursday to make the cut.
Irwin shot a 6-over 78 on Thursday, then had a 5-under 67 on Friday.
Im delighted with it, any way I can get it, but disappointed with yesterday, he said.
Irwin has reason to remain confident. He won the 1998 Senior Open after shooting a 77 on the opening day.
Freeman shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to move to 6-under overall, a tie for sixth place.
Freeman has competed in three PGA Tour events this season, but this is his first Senior event. The 50-year-old from Coronado, Calif., said he played well Friday, despite the wind.
If youre hitting it solid, the wind is not going to affect it very much, he said. I was playing solid and that was the key for me.
He called the Senior Open experience a rebirth.
Over the last couple years, I had a couple injuries, things everybody has gone through, and Im looking forward to having a fresh start and hopefully, this week will get me going.
Romero bounced back from a shaky performance Thursday to finish with a 2-under 70 on Friday.
Associated Press Writer Keith Robinson contributed to this report.