The 37-year-old said it’s the TPC Scottsdale course and its recent redesign he doesn’t like. He’s a fan of everything else about the most-attended tournament on the PGA Tour.
“I have to apologize,” Watson said after shooting a 2-under-par 69 in Friday’s second round. “I used the wrong words. I have nothing against the fans and the tournament. The fans have been great. I love coming here. I’ve lived here for every winter for eight years. This is a beautiful place. The reason I’m here is because of the excitement around this golf tournament. The fans have been great.
“I used words that I shouldn’t have used. I didn’t explain myself well. My wife says that too when I go home; I don’t communicate very well.”
On Friday, Watson reiterated his dislike for the course — despite back-to-back second-places finishes here the last two years and a solid showing again this week.
“It was about the golf course,” Watson said. “I’m not a fan of the golf course. I’ve said that for the last, this would make 10 years, but I’m here for the excitement. How would you not be here to support the tournament that brings out the most people out of any tournament we play around the world?”
Crowds at the Phoenix Open have exceeded 500,000 each of the last four years. The next-most-attended tournament on the PGA Tour is typically half that size.
Watson said the redesign in 2015 made his feelings for TPC Scottsdale even more negative. The course had about 50 yards added and had seven bunkers removed. The second and third greens were redesigned. The fourth green was redesigned and relocated. And the 14th hole was lengthened to 490 yards.
“I didn’t see any reason to change it,” the long-hitting lefty said Wednesday. “You know, again, they didn’t ask me. It’s just my own opinion. I didn’t see any reason to change it.”
Yet, with the changes, Watson has played well.
On Friday, he recorded birdies on four of his first five holes and finished the front nine in 3-under. Two bogeys and one birdie on the back nine left him 1-over on the back nine and gave him his second straight 69.
At 4-under overall, Watson was well clear of the cut.
After the round, he compared the Phoenix Open to a U.S. Open.
“Sometimes you get the right bounces, and around here, I’ve played well,” he said. “We all made the term ‘bomb-and-gouge.’ If you notice the big hitters are hitting it hard and hopefully we get the right breaks.
“I just didn’t get the right breaks on [Nos.] 6 and 8,” both of which he bogeyed Friday. “Over the last couple years, I’ve made some putts; so far these two days, I haven’t made putts.”
He couldn’t pinpoint the reason for his missed putts Friday, whether it was not hitting it hard enough or misreading the line. Maybe it was the course.
“If you read my transcript from a couple days ago, my heart was in the right place,” Watson said. “I just used the wrong words, just like my wife says.”