Others in awe as Bubba Golf wins second Masters

By Rex HoggardApril 14, 2014, 9:09 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – “Freak show.”

That’s how Bubba Watson’s caddie, Ted Scott, described Bubba Golf, the two-time Masters champion’s unique way of playing the game, on Sunday at Augusta National.

The bending drives, the low-sweeping recovery shots, the utter distain for everything conventional. In the often-vanilla world of professional golf, Bubba is rocky road topped with syrup and a jalapeno.

Less than 24 hours after Watson’s Masters masterpiece, his contemporaries, gathered at Harbour Town Golf Links for this week’s RBC Heritage, were still marveling at his ability to make the unorthodox look so extraordinary.

What is Bubba Golf?

“Entertaining,” John Peterson said. “Man, his drive on (No.) 13 yesterday. I played the Masters last year, and I had like 210 (yards) into the green for my best yardage. What did he have, 144? I’m sitting on my couch going, ‘Oh my God.’”

As electrifying as Watson is for the average player to watch, it is a testament to how truly gifted – or maybe “different” would be a more apt description – he is that his Tour frat brothers are just as blown away.

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For example, Watson’s drive on No. 13 that Peterson found so entertaining is the status quo in the world of Bubba Golf.

“We don't do yardage on that hole,” Scott said on Sunday. “If it's into the wind, he slices it. If it's not, he hammers it. It's Bubba Golf. He doesn't need me on that hole. I just spectate like you. Carry the bag like you and just stand there, yes, sir, and move on.”

Carl Pettersson, who has played numerous rounds with Watson, was equally impressed with Watson’s bomb on No. 13. “I don’t think anyone else can do that. When he drives it good he can destroy a golf course,” he said.

It won’t go down in Bubba lore as a seminal moment – that honor belongs to Watson’s gap wedge approach on the second playoff hole in 2012 that had more movement than a Justin Verlander curveball – but his second shot at the par-5 15th was just as entertaining.

After his drive found the first cut left of the 15th fairway, Watson weaved a “punch” 6-iron through the pines that flew the water hazard in front of the green and rolled through the putting surface.

“That was so nasty,” Peterson said of Watson’s second at No. 15. “For a guy with a three-stroke lead to go for that green from that spot. He had to be feeling awesome at that time.”

But Bubba Golf goes well beyond the prodigious distances Watson is able to hit the golf ball. It is a philosophy, a way of life that permeates into everything he does.

“He plays the way we all want to play. Not from the length standpoint. Obviously, I’d like to hit it 360 (yards),” Paul Goydos said. “To me it looks like he plays with as much freedom as any player on Tour. He doesn’t look overly concerned. Like he’s actually having fun and hitting the shots he wants to hit.”

If Watson is a once-in-a-generation ball-striker, there are parallels to another multiple Masters champion who eschewed the path well-traveled and blazed his own trail, be it through pine trees or down fairways.

“Bubba Golf is the new age Arnold Palmer,” Jason Bohn said. “He’s very aggressive and visual. I never played with Arnold Palmer, but that’s what I heard about him – aggressive, visual, could hit all kinds of golf shots. Bubba works his golf ball more than anyone out here, and you have to be a very visual player to do that.”

Like Palmer, Watson’s swing is unorthodox in all the right ways. No one would teach someone to swing like him, but then not even the most accomplished swing gurus would consider changing Watson’s whirlwind action.

“It’s controlled chaos,” said Mike Taylor, the Sea Island (Ga.) based swing coach whose players include Harris English and Kyle Stanley. “He may be the only person who can hit it like that. For him to attempt those shots, he has to have great feel for what the club is doing.”

In a contrived way, Watson’s unique brand of caveman golf – see ball, hit ball – is the ideal blueprint for how to play the game if not in style than at least in substance.

“That is the way everyone should strive to play because he looks like a child. He looks like he did when he was 10 and having fun out there,” Goydos said. “He just kept being Bubba.”

And he kept playing Bubba Golf.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

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It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.