AUGUSTA: Two years after their playoff showdown for the Masters crown, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson find themselves back on the Augusta National leaderboard in contention for the green jacket again.
Watson, who made an amazing rescue shot from the trees on the second playoff hole to win the 2012 Masters, and South African Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, each fired three-under par 69s Thursday to share second with defending champion Adam Scott, one shot behind first-round leader Bill Haas.
“I’m coming back with the take that I want the jacket again,” Watson said. “I’m coming back with a different mindset, full of energy.”
Oosthuizen takes heart from his major title at St. Andrews and his runner-up effort against Watson.
“This gives you a confidence boost, that you know you can do well on the golf course,” he said. “But your game needs to be on form.”
Watson says he has found his form by not having the pressures of ceremony thrust upon every Masters champion.
“There’s so much you’re doing when you’re defending champ and my mind can’t handle it,” Watson said.
“Adam seems to be doing pretty well with it. But for me it was just overwhelming, the Champions Dinner, everybody still congratulating you, so I just never got the focus. I played really bad on Sunday last year.”
After sharing 50th last year, Watson found himself somewhat under the radar this year, until now.
“The emotions are different because I’m trying to get the green jacket again. I had it,” Watson said.
“It’s pressure. You’re playing Augusta National, the best golf course in the world, so when you’re out here it’s a little bit different.”
Watson’s philosophy was simple in round one—try to reach the green by whatever means necessary.
“I’m trying to just hit greens. Whatever that comes out,” he said. “Today I missed two greens. I missed one by six inches, missed one by three feet. I putted both of those, made pars.
Oosthuizen said he could sense a good round in the works.
“I felt like I’ve been playing, hitting the ball well, the last month or so,” he said. “I’ve been feeling this coming for a while, that I’m swinging well.
“I can see myself doing really well this week.”