Hurricane-hit hometown in Bubba's thoughts at US Open

New York (AFP) –


Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson is trying to cope with the punishing conditions of this week's US Open at Winged Foot while his thoughts are on his hurricane-struck Florida hometown.

The 41-year-old American closed with a double bogey Friday to shoot a one-under par 69 and stand on one-over 141 for 36 holes in an event where he missed the cut five of the past six years.

"I'm trying to stay focused on a very difficult golf course instead of the very difficult situation at home," Watson said. "Golf is golf and life is more important than that."

Watson's thoughts are on Pensacola, where Hurricane Sally roared through Wednesday off the Gulf of Mexico, battering his hometown with heavy rains that brought flooding and high, destructive winds.

"There are other bigger things out there," Watson said. "This year has been a crazy year for everybody in the world. And now, my hometown, the destruction of the hurricane, there's so many bigger things out there, but I'm going to keep battling as much as I can."

The mental game was never the best part of Watson's game, the 2012 and 2014 green jacket winner admitting, "I'm still a head case."

"My mind races, right. I get in the rough and I feel like, 'How are you going to play out of this stuff?' and I get down on myself," Watson said. "You would think it would relax me a little bit.

"I had my plane ready to go home today just in case because I wanted to get home and be with the family and the community. But now I'll have to cancel the flight. So that's a good problem to have. Be home late Sunday night hopefully."

Watson was ready to withdraw on Wednesday had wife Angie asked.

"If boss lady says come home, I'm going home," Watson said. "One of the issues was where do you fly into. My motor home takes a while to get down there. It'd be like two days later."

It helps that Watson's friends and family and home are unharmed.

"My friends and family are all OK. My house, my mom's house, our friends' houses are all OK," he said. "I know there's a lot of boats that got messed up.

"There's a little damage to the car dealership, Sandy and Bubba's Milton Chevrolet. I haven't heard the complete damage to the ice cream shop. Just trying to focus on this right now."

- 'A lot of damage' -

Watson said he hopes lead a fundraising drive to help the needy much the way NFL star J.J. Watt did when Houston was struck by a hurricane a few years ago.

"Something like that would be tremendous, just to help the community, lift the spirits of the community because I know there's some people hurting for sure," Watson said.

"There's a lot of damage. The tour has asked me how they can help, but I haven't been there yet. A bunch of friends have been staying at our house because we have a generator... a lot of people have been coming over for ice and different things to our house, just trying to keep the kids safe and everything.

"When I get back, we'll assess how we can help a community that's helped me so much."

For now, Watson is trying to help himself capture a third major title.

"Even though I made two double bogeys in two days, I'm still right there," Watson said. "Should be able to sleep in a little bit and try to attack the golf course again tomorrow."