By Martyn Herman
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Bubba Watson's two-iron leads a solitary existence, spending most of its time in a locker in his house.
It will get an outing this week though as the twice Masters champion prepares to use every tool at his disposal to solve the riddles of links golf that have so far proved beyond his skills.
With it's undulating fairways, deep fairway bunkers, sculking hollows and fresh sea breezes, the Royal Liverpool course could not be more different to the manicured Augusta layout the big-hitting Watson conquered again this year.
Low ball flight and imagination will be key factors around the 7,300 yard layout alongside the Dee estuary, which is why Watson has added an otherwise redundant club to his bag.
"I've played the last couple of days with it and I've hit it pretty decent," left-hander Watson, whose best finish at the British Open was 23rd in 2012, told reporters.
"Now, on the pressure of the tournament, it might not feel the same. I haven't used it all year until this week. But it feels good right now."
Despite struggling to adapt his game to the British links course, fan favorite Watson, who launches balls with mind-boggling power with his trademark pink-shafted driver, is a keen student and says watching compatriot Phil Mickelson storm to victory at Muirfield last year was a motivation.
"Watching Phil win for the first time, seeing Rickie Fowler play pretty good the last couple of years, it's inspiring," Watson, who is an 80-1 shot with some bookmakers, said.
"But because I'm inspired doesn't mean I'm going to hit good shots. But I'm going to give it my best shot.
"I love the creativity this kind of golf provides," he added. "I haven't been successful at it yet, but hopefully over the next few years I can get better at it."
Watson will be in good company if he wants to pick up some tricks on Thursday and Friday after being paired with Mickelson and another former winner, South Africa's Ernie Els.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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