Bubba (67) staging a late playoff push

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AKRON, Ohio – Bubba Watson is quietly using a busy stretch to turn his season around, and it just might be enough to earn a spot in the playoffs.

The two-time Masters champ has struggled for large chunks of the year, failing to register a top-25 finish in a full-field, stroke-play event until a T-6 finish at the Memorial Tournament in June. After taking a week off, Watson began a run of eight starts in a nine-week stretch that began with the U.S. Open and ends next week at the PGA Championship.

While he got off to a rough start with missed cuts at Erin Hills and TPC River Highlands, Watson has made each of the last four cuts. That includes a T-27 finish at The Open, where he factored through 36 holes, and a T-42 finish last week in Canada, where he shot an opening-round 66.


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That trend continued Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where Watson carded a 3-under 67 to sit two shots off the lead on a course on which he finished second in 2015.

“We’re golfers, we always think we’re good,” Watson said. “I felt like it was coming around, so I wanted to keep playing and get more reps in, reps on the range. Anybody can hit it in a big field. So I wanted to play and improve that way.”

The rally comes just in time to preserve Watson’s shot at making the playoffs. He was outside the top-125 bubble for parts of the summer and even now sits at No. 117 on the points list – hardly a lock to make the field at The Northern Trust later this month.

Watson’s card is not in danger, as his multiple wins grant him an exemption on Tour through the 2020-21 season. But his drive to compete for some lucrative prize money, not to mention hardware, is helping to push him through a busy yet critical portion of the schedule.

“I still want to challenge myself,” Watson said. “All you’ve got to do is what, top-5 in one of the playoff events and you make it to the finals, which is sad but true. That’s what we’re looking for. Just one good week, get the confidence.”