PGA Championship: Bubba Watson refuses to be drawn into longest drive

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US Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, has decided to focus on his preparation for the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla, and not get drawn into a longest drive challenge with Rory McIlroy during the practice rounds.

Watson, a double Major winner and well renowned as one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, teams up with hot favourite Rory McIlroy and US Open Champion Martin Kaymer over the first two rounds of the final Major of the year.

Longest drive

The 35-year old, a double Tour winner this season, regularly tops the driving averages on the PGA Tour, however this week ahead of Valhalla, there has been much talk that he is about to surrender that mantle to Rory McIlroy, after the Northern Irishman averaged a seasons best 334 yards last week, during his victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

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Speaking ahead of practice yesterday about the chance to take part in a longest drive competition on the 10th hole, Watson declined the opportunity to get one over his playing partner for the next few days, stressing he is totally focused on finding a game plan for the newly renovated Valhalla, which apparently is geared up for accuracy and not distance.

"When we get here to the tournament Thursday, it's about playing a game," Watson said.

"He doesn't care if he outdrives me. I don't care if I outdrive him. We're trying to score.

"If I outdrive him every hole and he beats me, he doesn't care. If he outdrives me every hole and I beat him, it doesn't matter. It's a big field so we are not looking at each other."

"I want to practice the game of golf. I want to learn this golf course," he said.

"I haven't seen the 10th hole. I don't see that we should have a competition like that while we're playing a practice round and learning the golf course, trying to win a great championship.

Not impressed

The competition on the 10th was set up as a little light hearted distraction for the players, however the normally jovial Watson, didn't appear to be that impressed when he decided to hit a 3-iron off the tee in protest.

"There's no reason to make something up in the middle of the practice round like that. This is just right there in the middle of your practice round when you're trying to see the course. Just kind of weird to me.

"But I hit my 3-iron perfect, though, right down the middle. Longest 3-iron of the day. I won that competition. Take that."

Louis Oosthuizen was the eventual winner of the competition, his winning drive measured at 340 yards, eclipsing the previous best of 338 yards set by Australia’s Jason Day.

Bubba Watson drives 427 yards at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Money List

The longest drive is not the only competition Watson is currently involved in with McIlroy.

The American currently occupies top sport on the US Money List, barely $700 ahead of the Northern Irishman, however the media appeared more interest in distance than dollars, when they asked him his thoughts on how McIlroy can hit the ball so far.

"It doesn't surprise me at all. His technique is obviously pretty good," Watson said.

"He's number one in the world. He's still young. But no, I don't really think that it's the size. I think his technique is so good that obviously he can move the ball out there.

"It doesn't surprise me how tall somebody is if they can hit it pretty good. He's pretty strong, too. He's pretty fit."

Watson didn't enjoy the best of preparations ahead of the PGA Championships, after finishing 15-shots behind WGC winner McIlroy on level-par.

However, he is a big pressure player as previously seen with his two Masters wins and playing alongside two Major winners over the first two days at Valhalla, could see him go into the weekend with every chance.

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Rory McIlroy
Bubba Watson
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