Bubba Watson hardly had time to wipe the sleep out of his eyes before he was back on the golf course, half a world away from the disappointment of this year’s Masters.
As defending champion, the 36-year-old finished on one-over-par, 19 strokes behind runaway winner Jordan Spieth at Augusta National.
Watson presented the new champion with his green jacket then boarded a plane before dusting his jet lag down with a practice round at Genzon Golf Club ahead of Thursday’s inaugural Shenzhen International in the southern Chinese metropolis.
“I just didn’t make any putts,” was the world No.4’s frank verdict of his effort to retain his Augusta title.
“And then Jordan played unbelievable,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “He was the first person ever to get 19 under – made all his putts.
“It’s pretty special to see him battling the year before and me beating him, and then him coming with that performance the following year – pretty amazing.”
Watson said the Shenzhen event – co-sanctioned by the European and China PGA Tours – would give him time to reassess the putting that let him down as he sought to add a third green jacket to his 2012 and 2014 triumphs.
“What I took from it is that I’m hitting the ball well. I just didn’t make the putts,” he said before taking part in Wednesday’s pro-am event.
“We know by watching golf (it’s about) momentum. When you hit a great bunker shot or something to six feet and you miss the putt, it slows momentum. I had no momentum.”
Watson has happy memories of previous trips to China, most recently his victory at November’s WGC-HSBC Championship in Shanghai where a trademark audacious 35-metre blast from a bunker for eagle on the final green put him into a playoff against South Africa’s Tim Clark which he won on the first extra hole.
Watson said he would be happy to share his experience with China’s rising generation of players, not least playing partner for the first two days Li Haotong who, at 194, is the highest-ranked home golfer.
The third member of the marquee group for the first two days will be last year’s Volvo China Open winner Alexander Levy, as the Frenchman returns to the scene of that triumph.
“The game of golf is growing over here,” said Watson. “I’ll look forward to watching (Li) and helping if he has questions.”
The 20-year-old Li has been a standout on the China PGA Tour with wins in three of the final four events last year.