ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - There are few more spectacular sights in golf than standing behind American Bubba Watson launching one of his 320-yard sidewinders off a tee, apparently in the wrong direction.
Self-taught double Masters champion Watson moves a golf ball like few others have managed, often sending drives miles left or right before the spin he generates yanks the ball back on line.
It is a unique style that has made him a rich man but Watson acknowledges that “going straight” might be the only way to conquer St Andrews and win the British Open this weekend just as Louis Oosthuizen did at the home of golf in 2010.
“I just move it a lot,” Watson, who missed the cut by one stroke five years ago on his first St Andrews Open, told reporters after practice on Tuesday.
”It’s not because I want to. I want to be like the greats of the game, hit the ball dead straight, I just can’t do it.
”I’ve never tried to do it and I don’t want to change my game. I‘m doing okay right now. I‘m getting to play The Open Championship, so my moving the ball is doing okay.
”It’s just I move it so much. At certain golf tournaments I’ve got to figure out how to hit it straighter.
“For me it is harder to hit the straight shots because I don’t see the straight shots.”
But Watson, who mastered Augusta in 2012 and 2014, a manicured course a million miles away from the wild dips and hollows, card-wrecking bunkers and teasing winds which are expected to blow hard this week on the Fife coast, is not being defeatist, just realistic.
While his Open record is mediocre -- he has missed three cuts and his best finish was 23rd in 2012 -- the 36-year-old is relishing the challenge of figuring it out.
“Lucky for me that we don’t play every course like this, so I have a chance to perform at a high level somewhere else,” he said.
”But it’s a challenge for me because it’s trying to figure out the right spots.
”But you know, it’s a beautiful place. It’s the home of golf; how would you not want to be here?
”I come over here because I love it. I love this kind of golf. It’s a challenge. I only missed the cut by one a few years ago here (2010). It’s not like I‘m trying to search for my game.
“I‘m hoping I‘m there Saturday to fight the winds and on Sunday and somehow pull it out.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond