Whistling Straits loss was springboard for Bubba Watson

Whistling Straits loss was springboard for Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson has come a long way since a playoff loss to Martin Kaymer in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

As the final major of the season returns to the 7,514-yard, par-72 Pete Dye-designed course on the shores of Lake Michigan this week, Watson recalled the near-miss as a confidence-builder that helped catapult him from a player "scared to death" to play in major championships to a two-time Masters champion ranked number three in the world.

"It just showed that I have the ability to play golf in a tough competition like that, have the ability to perform at a high level, under stressful situations" said Watson, who had won his first US PGA Tour title just a fortnight earlier.

"It gave me confidence in all parts of my game, in every tournament, not just majors."

After exchanging birdies at the first two playoff holes, Watson and Kaymer were tied going into the third hole of the aggregate playoff -- Whistling Straits` difficult 500-yard 18th.

With 206 yards to the front of the green from the rough, Watson pulled his six-iron approach and dunked it in the water 30 feet short of the green.

"I heard the moans and I was like, `How can it be in the water?`" Watson recalled. "I thought I hit a decent shot."

It`s an indelible memory, but much of that week is a blur for Watson.

"Obviously, in 2010 I was still new to the game, I never had a win until two weeks before the PGA Championship. I was scared to death playing PGA Championships and majors.

"So I can`t remember really anything. I remember the layouts and how difficult it was, but I don`t remember about emotions ... I can`t remember the score, what was shot. But I remember the golf course being tough."

The 36-year-old American is coming off a runner-up finish at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week, where he was two shots behind Ireland`s Shane Lowry.

He also finished second at the Canadian Open a fortnight before that, but as in 2014 he missed the cut this year in both the US and British Opens and will be trying to bounce back in the final major of the year.

Although Whistling Straits has a reputation as a bomber`s course, Watson said accuracy will be as important as length off the tee.

"If you don`t hit the fairways, it`s going to be very difficult to make pars and have a good finish," he said. "It`s all about fairways around here.

"I`m looking forward to the week because I`ve played here before. I`ve got some good memories here, and hopefully (I`m) up to the challenge."

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