The Open Championship 2012: Bubba Watson on Track to Continue Impressive Year

Sam R. Quinn@SamQuinn_Senior Analyst IIIJuly 19, 2012

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Bubba Watson of the United States hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club on July 19, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Bubba Watson got off to a promising start at the 2012 Open Championship at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes golf club, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Florida native finds himself at three-under par, three shots back of the tournament's current leader, Adam Scott. He is firmly situationed among a group of 12 golfers within three strokes of the Aussie.

We should come to expect this from Watson, though, as the 2012 Masters Tournament champion is having one of the best seasons of any player on the tour. He's fourth on the yearly earnings list, fifth in the FedEx Cup rankings and has accumulated five top-10 finishes since the season began.

Watson has been the picture of consistency since finishing 18th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in the beginning of January. Sans a few mishaps, he has finished in the top 20 of every tournament he has competed in.

Those aforementioned mishaps came in back-to-back tournaments in late-May and mid-June. He first sputtered at the Memorial Tournament, where he was cut after shooting a 149 over the first two rounds. The 33-year-old wasn't able to redeem himself at the U.S. Open, where he was also cut after posting a 78 and 71 over the first two days.

Aside from those disappointments, Watson has been one of the most fun golfers to watch on tour this year outside of Tiger Woods (depending on where your allegiance lies).

He finished second at the World Golf Championships, fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, won the Masters Tournament, placed second at the Travelers Championship and now finds himself tied for sixth at the Open Championship.

The lefty wasn't dominant in Thursday's Round 1. He was more than 10 yards short of his season's average drive and needed an average of 2.2 putts for every green in regulation—nearly half of a putt more than his season average.

Watson is a player who doesn't always find himself on the fairway as much as some of his opponents. He doesn't always show a propensity to do that, but he drove more accurately on Thursday than he had collectively this season.

Driving errors are typically accentuated when the weather is bad. As we've seen in the past, the weather at the Open Championship isn't all that pristine.

Fortunately for Watson, the weather this year is expected to be clear. Friday could bring a bit of rain, but Saturday and Sunday bring partly cloudy forecasts, according to Weather.com.

Things are looking good for Watson as he prepares for Friday's round. He shouldn't have a problem hanging around the top of the leaderboard all weekend, and don't be surprised if he makes a run for the top in the latter stages.