After Further Review: Bubba Golf built for Augusta

By Jay CoffinApril 14, 2014, 2:00 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Bubba Watson's second Masters victory in three years, what it means for him going forward and how tough scoring conditions this week could affect the future setup of Augusta National.

Never overlook Bubba Watson here at the Masters. Never. I did this year and am not sure why. When he won at the Northern Trust Open he jumped on an early Masters favorites list. But somehow, at least to me, when he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational I erased him from my mind as a contender altogether. I was focused mostly on Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar. Never again. Doesn’t matter how he plays prior to this tournament, his booming drives and ridiculous shot-making ability will give him a chance to win more green jackets over the next eight years. Scary thought. – Jay Coffin

The cliché is, "the Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday." So the most disappointing part of this year’s Masters was just how dull it was on the back nine Sunday. That’s the exact opposite of how it’s supposed to go. The tournament is supposed to be set up for great television — birdies, eagles, water splashes, thrilling charges, epic collapses — but we got none of that. Bubba Watson shot par on the back nine and won easily. Nobody came close to making a run at him.

His challengers —  Jordan Spieth (1 over), Jonas Blixt (1 under) and Matt Kuchar (1 over) could not do ANYTHING interesting on the back.

The tournament committee has to think about this. There were just three eagles on No. 13 (none by contenders), zero eagles on No. 15, only a couple of balls in the water on No. 12 and then nothing too exciting at the usually thrilling holes like 11 or 16. It was just blah all the way around — Blixt would say, simply, “I didn’t feel like I got it close enough to the pins in order to make that many birdies.” There have been so many changes at Augusta the last few years, many of them necessary with the evolving equipment and talent of golfers. But I think they made it too hard this week. The thrill was gone. – Joe Posnanski

Bubba Golf, in all its unique quirkiness, is better than the sum of its parts. Say what you will about the two-time Masters champion, his victory lap on Sunday at Augusta National was textbook. For the week, Watson finished first in driving distance (shocking, right?), 13th in greens in regulation and 12th in putts per green in regulation. His high-flying game has already produced two victories in 2014, as well as two runner-up showings, and virtually assured him a spot on this year’s Ryder Cup team. He may not be the most orthodox player, either in form or fashion, but the days of doubting his resolve are over. – Rex Hoggard

We’re going to find out a lot more about Jordan Spieth during the next three major championships. Prior to a runner-up finish in his first Masters appearance, the 20-year-old was saddled only with his own expectations, not those of everyone else. Now the hype machine is going to be set to full power. All eyes will be on Spieth at Pinehurst and Hoylake and Valhalla, because in a game that desperately yearns for a youthful new superstar, he fits the bill. Indications are that he can handle the pressure - this is a kid who’s been immune to any bravado. The intensity of the spotlight will only shine brighter going forward, though. He’s handled everything in his career with an unusually mature attitude so far, but it’s only going to get more difficult from here. – Jason Sobel

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.