In the end, he’s in early contention.
Watson shot 5-under 67 and sits one back of three leaders at Albany.
After his round, Watson explained that he initially backed out of the event because he wasn’t going to be able to bring his entire family. He had issues getting paperwork completed in order to have his daughter, Dakota, who is adopted, make the trip. And with an upcoming journey to Thailand to compete next week, he didn’t want to be away from home for that long.
“I didn’t want to be almost back-to-back, two weeks missing my kids,” Watson said. “I didn’t want to leave the family again for two weeks.”
Watson asked tournament officials to keep him in mind should anyone withdraw. He and wife Angie eventually got the paperwork finalized, and when Jason Day pulled out, Watson was back in.
The full clan is in attendance, along with Angie, Dakota and son Caleb. Bubba, despite his good opening score, may be enjoying his time more outside the ropes.
“This course is better than I am, but I beat it today,” he said. “Yesterday when I played it for the first time, the wind was a little different direction and I told [my caddie] Teddy, I said, ‘Teddy, I don’t know if I can play this course. It’s really, really hard.’
“These are the smallest greens I’ve ever seen. …Obviously, I’m a good player so I can score on certain days, but for me, personally, it’s a very difficult, little golf course.”
Watson had his ups and downs on Day 1, with more of the former than the latter. He eagled the par-5 ninth, but double bogeyed the par-3 12th, where he batted it back and forth around the tiny green.
Along the way, he also had seven birdies and two bogeys.
“Beautiful golf course. Beautiful property,” he said. “It’s just a very tough golf course for me.”