Bubba Watson has made a living off making impossible shots look downright routine. Sunday at the WGC-HSBC Champions was no exception. After grabbing the solo lead on the back nine, Watson suddenly dropped three shots on the 16th and 17th holes and didn’t do himself any favors finding the greenside bunker with his approach to the par-5 18th. That’s when he found that same magic responsible for his two Masters titles.
Watson holed his shot from the sand for an eagle, forcing his way into a playoff with Sunday playing partner, Tim Clark. In the playoff, he found the same greenside bunker with his second shot, and splashed out to 20 feet. After Clark missed his birdie attempt, Watson’s putt found the bottom of the cup, giving him his first WGC title and seventh PGA Tour win.
Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-11), Tim Clark (-11), Rickie Fowler (-10), Hiroshi Iwata (-10), Graeme McDowell (-10), Martin Kaymer (-8), Thorbjorn Olesen (-8), Ian Poulter (-8)
What it means: Watson, who hadn’t won since the Masters in April, proved once again that when he’s on his game – even not all the way on – he’s quite difficult to beat. He moved back up to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, making him the highest-ranked American in the world.
Round of the day: There certainly were better scores out there Sunday than Bubba’s final-round 70, but Watson sewed up this honor with his final two holes. Watson looked finished after a bogey-double bogey stretch that dropped him from the outright lead to trailing five co-leaders by a shot. Before his hole-out from the bunker on 18, it took him two shots to get out of the sand (and nowhere near the pin) just one hole earlier. That’s how quickly he can flip the switch.
Best of the rest: Tim Clark certainly deserves some credit for battling to a playoff loss in China with a 3-under 69 on Sunday. After Watson’s eagle hole-out, Clark still had to drain a 5-footer to get into extra holes. In the end, Bubba’s theatrics proved too much to overcome. Henrik Stenson didn’t finish anywhere near the lead, but after a difficult first three days (70-71-81), it was nice to see him get back on track with a closing 7-under 65.
Biggest disappointment: It’s tough to call any finish inside the top 10 a “disappointment,” but several players had a chance to get into the playoff with birdies at the 72nd hole. While McDowell and Iwata gave themselves good looks at birdie and eventually settled for pars, Fowler and Kaymer both found the water, ending any chance of extra holes for themselves before they even reached the final green.
Quote of the day: “Clark was like, ‘How’d you do that? Why would you do that?” – Watson, with a laugh, on his exchange with Clark after holing-out for eagle at the last.