Watson's French foray lacking in entente cordiale

Click to follow
The Independent Online

After missing the cut at the French Open yesterday, Bubba Watson said he wanted to leave the country "as quickly as possible".

But reports from Le Golf National signified the American's departure would still take far too long for the locals and officials.

It is fair to say the left-hander's first appearance in a regular European Tour event was not a success. Indeed, on Thursday, after the first of two 74s, Watson said: "I think this might be the only time I play in Europe. I miss my home."

Yesterday, it became apparent what the world No 12 missed. Watson is known as one of the fun-loving figures on the US Tour, but was incensed some spectators had mobile phones, some had cameras and that – whisper it – he was actually required to walk through the crowd on occasion to reach the next tee-box. "It's different for me, there's cameras, there's phones, there's everything, no security," said Watson. "I don't know which holes to walk through, there's no ropes. It's something I'm not used to, I'm not comfortable with."

David Probyn, the tournament director, defended the event's security. "You can't ban everyone who is carrying a mobile phone," he said. "It's the same with cameras. You can't scan everyone for a camera at every event, that would just make it hard for people to watch golf and we don't want to do that."

He added: "Sure, we are not as rigorous with the way we run things as they might be in America. But we don't have 1,200 volunteers like they have in America for a tournament. Anyway, our players are happy to walk through the crowds."

The European Tour players are also happy with the course, which is rated as one of the best on the continent and will host the 2018 Ryder Cup. When Watson was asked for his opinion on the layout he hesitated, before saying: "I love France. Paris is a beautiful city. I went to the Eiffel Tower, to the Louvre, something like that, and the archway, and saw the castle that we are staying next to." That "castle" was, in fact, the Palace of Versailles.

Watson reportedly turned down media interviews and at one stage refused to share a courtesy car with a European Tour professional. His mood was in stark contrast to when he arrived, saying: "I just wanted to come to France, and experience a different culture, different lifestyle, different golf."

It was claimed he was being paid more than £100,000 in appearances fees. Watson denied that yesterday – "I'm not being paid a dime" – but did let slip that the reason for the trip was his sponsors, not his wanderlust.

With Watson out of the picture the golf continues and among those vying for the £450,000 first prize is England's James Morrison. The 26-year-old, who won in Madeira last year, posted a second 66 to hold the clubhouse lead on 10-under.