Bubba Watson goes on a birdie binge

"When [the Presidents Cup] was going on and I wasn't there, all those things hit you," Watson said. "You're thinking you have the ability to do this. You have the ability to perform at a high level, you've done it before. You know, are you going to dedicate yourself? Are you going to practice?"

Old Bubba, by his own count, has signed 10,000-plus yellow pin flags from his Masters win. If his sponsors had a hoop, he jumped through it. He did more talking than the crew on "The View." And his game suffered -- a lot.

New Bubba doesn't read the newspapers or the Internet, and he doesn't watch any TV golf highlights during tournament week. Last year the entire Bubba contingent stayed in one Augusta rental house. This year it's family in one house, everybody else in another.

He tweaked his putter (a half-inch longer). He tweaked his Masters practice routine (only nine holes a day). He came up with The Secret, which he proceeded to divulge two days in a row (hit greens in regulation).

"It's not science here," he said. "... And if you're hitting the greens, that means you're obviously hitting your tee shots well."

Simple. Everything has been simple for Watson this week. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the field needs a sedative. Look at the leaderboard; with the exception of defending champion Adam Scott, former U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk and former champion Fred Couples, it's suffering from big-name deprivation.

Watson helps. The patrons love him. The camera loves him. The galleries were seven, eight deep by the 18th tee box.

"All right, I get to see this swing," said a man pressed hard against the green-and-white rope on the 18th tee box. "I haven't seen it yet."

He saw it a few moments later, when Watson lasered a 3-wood through the Augusta afternoon wind.

The man near the ropes just shook his head in amazement. And Watson's two-day total elicited similar reactions from his peers.

"Phenomenal," said Jason Day of Watson's 4-under 68. "Then again, we have 36 holes left. Anything can happen, especially at Augusta."

Anything, except Bubba wearing a Swatch.

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