AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Very few players can match the comfort level enjoyed by Bubba Watson at Augusta National but the American has felt out of place at this week's Masters after being thwarted by allergies and swirling winds.
Left-hander Watson, a Masters champion twice in the last four years, found it difficult to trust his swing in what he described as the toughest conditions he had ever seen at his favorite tournament.
"Very disappointing," world number four Watson said after battling to a three-over-par 75 in strong gusts to post a six-over total of 150 that put him right at the cut number.
"The golf course beat me this year and so I just got to improve, try to get better around this place. I hit the ball well, just didn't get the kicks or the bounces that I needed to, to make the putts and make more birdies and less bogeys.
"The illness is a sinus infection and allergies and, yes, I'm still dealing with it right now."
As Watson is a left-hander, the Augusta National layout sets up extremely well for him and with his prodigious length off the tee and creative short game, it is not surprising that he earned the Green Jacket in 2012 and 2014.
Though this week has so far fallen well short of his customary expectations for the Masters, he remains bullish about his capabilities as one of the game's leading players."I was fourth in the world (at the start of the week) and I'm still fourth in the world, so, yeah, I feel good ... there's only three guys better than you in the world," smiled Watson, who will head into the third round 10 strokes off the pace.
"I feel like every week that I play I can win. I feel like every week that I play I can be very successful. And this week the golf course just beat me. These are the toughest conditions I've seen (on) this golf course.
"So I got to get better in the wind around this golf course. I got to trust more things and hopefully I learn from that and if it does it next year, I'll be a little bit better."
Editing by Larry Fine