AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Caution and ‘Bubba Golf’ do not normally appear in the same sentence but Masters champion Bubba Watson showed his deliberate side on Saturday as golf’s rule book took the Augusta National spotlight.
On a day when Tiger Woods was handed a two-stroke penalty for an improper ball drop, Watson, who claimed his green jacket with a daring display of shot-making, admitted there is one thing he will not risk on a golf course: taking a chance with the rules.
“I don’t know the rule book,” Watson told reporters. “I always call in the rules official.
“I’ve never been in that situation. I’ve always called in the rules official just like today on 11 I called in the rules official, even though the ball drop was there.
“I just made sure everything went right.”
After sneaking into the weekend right on the cut line, Watson was the first man out onto Augusta National and zipped around the layout playing alone.
Mounting an early charge with three straight birdies to open his round, Watson found himself inching up the leaderboard getting to four-under on the day after 10 holes before finding the water on the 11th and calling in a rules official.
Watson settled for a double-bogey six on the par four hole but made sure he did not do anymore damage, calling in a rules official to make sure his drop was correct.
“Once the rules official tells you a rule, that’s law,” said Watson. “So even if he makes a bad ruling, it’s still law. So that’s what I went with.
“That’s why I always call in the rules official to tell me the right rule or his own interpretation of the rule.”
Woods’ penalty came after a television viewer phoned in and alerted officials that the world number one had broken the rules when he failed to drop his ball as close as possible to his original spot after finding water on the par-five 15th.
It was not an unfamiliar situation for Watson, who found himself being questioned for a reported rules infraction at the 2007 U.S. Open.
“I’ve had a phone call from the U.S. Open before, so I know what those phone calls feel like,” recalled Watson after returning a third round two-under 70. “I got a call at 8 in the morning.
“They said, “Bubba, you said you double hit it on camera.” And I said, “No, I did not double hit it.
“I didn’t say that. I said I could have double hit it. I said you have to go back and listen to the tape.
“And we watched it and then I went back to sleep, because the ruling was I was right, whoever called in was wrong.”
Editing by Gene Cherry