With no fans around for the first few PGA Tour events since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a larger focus has fallen on which pros might be grouped together for competitive rounds. For three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson, that's not always a good thing.
Watson has feasted on TPC River Highlands over the last decade, winning in 2010, 2015 and 2018 to go along with a runner-up in 2012 and a fourth-place finish in 2013. The lefty will often speak his mind in front of a microphone, and Tuesday he was asked if it matters who he is grouped with for the first two rounds of an event.
"It matters tremendously," Watson said. "There's guys that are a shot, maybe a two-shot penalty when you see their name on that sheet. Maybe that's what they say about me, too, so I guess it works both ways."
Watson added that he enjoys being grouped with "fun and energetic" players whenever possible, with tournament officials setting the groupings for the first two rounds. The tee sheet for the final two days is determined based on player scores.
"You see a certain name, you know you can joke around, you know you can have fun and kind of get away from the stress and not talking and just walking down the fairway," Watson said. "I look forward to seeing who the pairings are and sometimes I start praying early to try to get a good one."
Pairings haven't been an issue for Watson in Cromwell, where he has earned more than $4.7 million in 13 prior appearances. Watson hasn't won on Tour in the two years since his comeback victory here, keyed by a final-round 63, but he finished T-7 two weeks ago at Colonial and feels confident returning to a course that so clearly fits his eye.
"It's a fun place to come. It's a fun golf course," Watson said. "No matter what your skill set is, this golf course doesn't limit itself to one winner. It's all kinds of different golf games. So it's fun coming here and challenging yourself."