Bubba Watson attributed his five-under par opening round at The Barclays to an attacking strategy.
The two-time Masters champion shared the lead after round one following his 65, with his determination to hit the driver as often as possible allowing him to play short irons into the tricky greens at Plainfield Country Club.
Watson was briefly on track to tie the course record after a faultless seven birdies in his opening 14 holes. Remarkably for someone of the American’s unique power, he failed to birdie either of the par fives in that stretch.
Bogeys at two of his final four holes meant Watson had to be content with a four-way share of the lead after the opening day, but he is content with his efforts and his strategy.
“We were going to try to hit driver as much as we can,” Watson told reporters. “The rough is so thick that I would rather miss my driver in the rough than an iron off the tee or something like that.”
Renowned as a visual player, Watson found some Plainfield’s blind shots tough to execute, particularly at the par-three sixth hole where he made his first birdie of the day.
“It looked like that club could go over, really just in my mind playing tricks,” Watson said. “So I didn’t commit to it. That’s really the only shot I wish I could redo.”
Watson is joined in the lead by Spencer Levin, Camilo Villegas and Tony Finau, the rookie American continuing to build on his strong showing at the USPGA Championship.
PGA winner Jason Day is three back following a round of 68 but Jordan Spieth trails by nine having slumped to 74, his worst round in more than three months.