Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Bubba Watson has never been at his best
when playing outside the United States. He has struggled with his emotions,
while battling his own game, clicking cameras and boisterous fans.
Watson finally earned his first international victory in China on Sunday. He
holed out for eagle at 18 to force a playoff, then birdied the first extra
hole to beat Tim Clark for the World Golf Championship – HSBC Champions title.
The left-hander has had his issues outside the United States in the past.
Watson did not endear himself to French fans when he couldn’t remember the
names of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Watson missed the cut that
week at the French Open.
His follies didn’t end there.
Watson has missed the cut in three of his six Open Championship starts, and
has broken par in only four of 18 rounds at that championship.
The two-time Masters champion has gone 1-7 in two Ryder Cups played in Europe.
He did go 3-2 in his one Presidents Cup outside the United States, but that
was in Australia.
Maybe his victory in Shanghai will change all of that.
“It’s a global game. I was watching when I was growing up, watching the greats
of the game win outside the U.S. I’m from the U.S., so obviously winning in
the U.S. is big for me. But being able to win outside the U.S., I just want to
be able to travel and get through the jet lag, get through all the things and
still perform at a high level,” said Watson. “So for me to win out here, this
is very big, this is very special for me.”
The satisfaction was there for Watson, but there also seemed to be a hint of
He finally picked up his first victory outside of the States, but battling the
distractions was still an issue. Watson had to back away from his bunker shot
at the 18th more than once.
Was there noise from the corporate boxes? Could he not get comfortable with
the shot? Did a cameraman snap a picture as Watson setup for his shot? Or was
it a combination of things?
Whatever it was, Watson still managed to gather himself and hole the shot.
That might not have been the case in the past.
Maybe Watson, who celebrated his 36th birthday earlier in the week, is finally
maturing right before our eyes.
Watson needed three years on the Nationwide Tour, now Web.com Tour, before he
earned his PGA Tour card. Once on the PGA, it took into his fifth season on
tour before he won for the first time. Two years after that victory, Watson
earned his first major championship crown.
He won his second Masters title in April, and became the 14th golfer to win a
major and a World Golf Championship with this victory.
The maturing part came at the 18th in regulation. Not only did he back off his
bunker shot, but Watson needed to hole it to force a playoff since he had
faltered to a double-bogey on the 17th.
Talk about a bounceback.
“I never gave up. I just put my head down and kept grinding it out … and
it’s not just about grinding out a win. It’s about grinding out a higher
finish,” Watson said about his comeback.
In the past, the distractions might have flustered Watson. Instead, he
gathered himself and executed a perfect shot.
The maturation process for Watson has taken a while. Now a two-time major
champion and a World Golf Championship winner, some would say it’s about time.
REED FALLS INTO TIGER’S TRAP
Patrick Reed let his emotions get the best of him on Friday as he muttered an
expletive and gay slur after 3-putting for bogey. He apologized via twitter
later that day, then again in his post-round interview on Saturday.
Reed fell into a trap that has caught Tiger Woods many times. There are
microphones on every tee and every green at PGA Tour events, as well as near
players that are being followed by television cameras.
The slightest slip of the tongue could be caught at anytime, and all of a
sudden it becomes a story. Clearly, what Reed said was wrong and he admitted
Reed will obviously get fined, but any other punishment will never be known as
the PGA Tour does not discuss player sanctions. There were calls for the tour
to reverse that policy in light of this incident.
But that could cause further backlash. Say Reed gets fined $5,000, is that
enough? If he were to get fined $50,000, is that too much? The tour won’t
announce the penalty regardless, and I’m fine with that.
All announcing the penalty does is extend the life of the story for a few more
days. Reed, and surely the tour, want it out of the news as quickly as
Plenty of golfers get on themselves for bad shots. They need to be more
cognizant that there are microphones everywhere so whatever they are saying to
themselves better be inside their own heads and not aloud.
– Rory McIlroy, who skipped the first three finals series events, is still in
line to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia
and Marcel Siem could pass McIlroy for the top prize, but they would have to
win both remaining tournaments in Turkey this week and in Dubai next week.
– George O’Grady announced last week that he is stepping down as the chief
executive of the European Tour. R&A head Peter Dawson, who announced his
retirement in April, and PGA of America president Ted Bishop, who was ousted
less than two months before the end of his tenure for insensitive gender-based
statements, join O’Grady in leaving their positions. Replacing these three
leaders will be a tough task.