Watson cruises to three-shot win in Bahamas

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2015, 2:58 am

NASSAU, Bahamas – A few years after Bubba Watson made it onto the PGA Tour, he started waking up early to play practice rounds with Tiger Woods. He didn't ask a lot of questions of the world's No. 1 player who already had 14 majors when he was 32.

''I learn by watching and listening,'' Watson said. ''So I just watched. How would you not want to learn from the best player of our generation?''

Woods, the tournament host, was watching Sunday as Watson delivered a performance that looked familiar in its efficiency.

Staked to a two-shot lead going into the final round, Watson made four birdies in seven holes and was never seriously challenged. He sailed home to a 6-under 66 and a three-shot victory over Patrick Reed at Albany Golf Club in the Hero World Challenge.

Watson wasn't even planning to play this week. He turned down his invitation a few months ago because he didn't have a passport for his newly adopted daughter, Dakota. But when PGA champion Jason Day backed out to stay home with his newborn daughter, Watson's wife was able to expedite all the right documents for the family to come over to the Bahamas.

He left with a $1 million payoff and a firm grasp on No. 4 in the world the rest of the year.

''I guess I've got to thank Jason Day for backing out. I have to thank the U.S. government and passport office for getting Dakota a passport so we could be here,'' Watson said. ''For us, it's a good ride, a fun ride.''


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Even if it didn't feel easy to him, it sure looked that way.

Watson didn't make a bogey all weekend until the final hole, when he jokingly asked NBC field reporter Notah Begay how many shots he needed to win. He played it safe and made bogey, and all that cost him was the tournament record. Watson finished at 25-under 263, one shot from Jordan Spieth's record last year at Isleworth.

Reed also had a 66 to finish alone in second, moving him to No. 10 in the world for the first time. Rickie Fowler had a 64 to finish third.

Spieth tried to stay in range and was three shots behind until he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole and never converted many chances after that. He ended his year with a 67, and walking up the 18th, he and caddie Michael Greller allowed for a quick reflection.

''Michael said, 'Hey, man, it's been an honor to be in the passenger seat, sitting shotgun for this ride. Thanks for everything,''' Spieth said. ''I obviously thanked him. It's been a team effort this year, just as we always stress. But yeah, there was certainly a sigh of relief.''

The Masters and U.S. Open champion strengthened his grip on No. 1 in the world, and headed off to a three-week vacation before going out to Maui for the first tournament of what figures to be a tough encore. First up: A trip to Augusta National this weekend to play with his father.

Watson's year is not finished. He was headed to New York on Sunday night to catch a flight to Asia for the Thailand Open.

The two-time Masters champion already had a two-week trip away from his family, and he didn't want to do that again. So when there was uncertainty about getting his daughter a passport for the Bahamas, he decided he would stay home this week and asked the tournament to let him know if anyone pulled out.

Day withdrew, Watson's wife spent eight hours in an Arizona office trying to get all the paperwork and they were on their way.

Watson seized control with seven birdies and an eagle on Saturday in ideal weather for a two-shot lead over Paul Casey, and he started fast with birdies on the second and third holes to keep his distance. No one got closer than two shots all day, and as Fowler made a move with a 30 on the front nine, Watson answered with two straight birdies to start the back nine, and then it was a matter of finishing.

Justin Rose, who lives at Albany and has lingered at the bottom of the leaderboard all week, set the course record with a 62.

For Watson, the next step is to be a more consistent winner. This was the ninth victory worldwide in his career, and the second straight year he has won multiple times.

''I want my name to be close to that leaderboard every tournament, every year, so people are always talking about Bubba Watson, about how consistent he is and good he is,'' Watson said. ''That's my whole focus right now, every year getting better and better.''

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry