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.

Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

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.

Getty Images

Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 4:00 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play the winner of the Kiradech Aphibarnrat/Charles Howell III match in the quarterfinals.  

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play the winner of the Sergio Garcia/Kyle Stanley match in the quarterfinals.  

Getty Images

Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

Getty Images

Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

Getty Images

DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.