Watson rallies to win at Torrey Pines

By Doug FergusonJanuary 31, 2011, 4:47 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Bubba Watson made vital putts on the last two holes Sunday, including a 12-foot birdie at the 18th, for a 5-under 67 to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in a finish that was dramatic for peculiar reasons.

Phil Mickelson – that other left-hander and the tournament favorite – was one shot behind when he chose to lay up from the rough on the 18th before Watson attempted his birdie putt.

Then came a loud cheer as Watson sank his putt for a two-shot lead, meaning Mickelson would have to hole out a wedge from 72 yards for eagle to force a playoff. He has his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay tend the flag – rare for a full shot from the fairway – and gallery gasped when the ball landed just behind the hole and started to spin back toward the cup.

But it never had a chance.

Mickelson had said the secret to him playing the revamped South Course was to play it safe, and he followed that strategy all the way to a runner-up finish. Mickelson closed with a 69 to finish one shot behind.

Mickelson said the grass was into his ball, and that a hybrid would not have been enough to clear the water. To hit 3-wood would have gone well over the green, which he saw as a difficult shot. He figured his best chance at eagle was from the fairway, using the bank behind the hole to feed it toward the cup.

“I’m disappointed,” Mickelson said. “I wanted to start the year off with a win. On the other hand, I played really good golf.”

Watson finished at 16-under 272 for his second victory, although this one came against a much stronger field than his playoff win at the Travelers Championship last summer.

“It showed I can do it,” he said. “I’ve done it twice now. I’m only 50 behind Phil and about 80 behind Tiger. So they better watch out.”

Watson held off Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Jhonattan Vegas, the Venezuela rookie coming off a win at the Bob Hope Classic last week. Vegas tied Watson for the lead on the 10th hole and stayed in range throughout the back nine until his 5-iron from the first cut of rough on the 18th came up well short and into the water.

Vegas made bogey for a 68 and tied for third with Johnson, who shot 66.

Tiger Woods also was in the field, although no one noticed during the final two hours. Woods, who started the final round eight shots behind, closed with a 75 to end his five-tournament winning streak at Torrey Pines. He had never finished out of the top 10 at Torrey Pines, but wound up 15 shots back in a tie for 44th.

It was his worst season debut since his first full season on the PGA Tour in 1997.

“I have some work to do,” Woods said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Watson had a one-shot lead over Vegas when he flew the 17th green from a fairway bunker, leaving him a downhill chip that went some 10 feet past the hole. He made that for par to keep the lead. On the final hole, with the tees moved so far up that it played only 522 yards, Watson went long into a tough spot in the bunker, again with the green running away from him.

He played out safely to 12 feet, and pumped his fist once when it dropped into the center of the cup.

Mickelson made his own charge. Belting a driver on the 17th, he played a perfect wedge that caught the slope and stopped 3 feet away for birdie that pulled him to within one shot. But he popped up his tee shot to the left, and while it appeared as though he had a good enough lie to reach the green, he quickly pulled out wedge and hit back toward the fairway.

Watson, who couldn’t hold back tears when he won for the first time last summer as his father was dying, cried again. His father passed away from cancer late last year.

Bill Haas, who shared the lead with Mickelson going into the final round, bogeyed the first hole and never caught up. He birdied the last hole for a 75 and tied for ninth.

Anthony Kim (72) and newlywed Hunter Mahan (73) were both within one or two shots of the lead on the front nine, but they couldn’t keep up and tied for sixth with Nick Watney, who shot 63 to match the best round on the South Course since Rees Jones revamped it after 2001 to prepare for a U.S. Open.

Watson earned $1.044 million and most likely will crack the top 20 in the world for the first time in his career.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: