It only took slightly under five hours — with the last two holes taking nearly an hour — but Bubba Watson staged an impressive comeback to beat J.B. Holmes on the 19th hole. Bubba was five down through 10 holes before Holmes started spraying shots into the desert. It was painful to watch Holmes go through his pre-shot routine (not to mention the plumb-bobbing — no joke, I took a shower and barely missed a shot), but what ensued made for amusing and entertaining television.
JB got a few great breaks and the rules played to his advantage, like on the 18th — his ball was against a bush, but there was also a sprinkler head in his way, blocking his shot. Basically, JB hypothetically could have attempted to punch out left-handed, so he was given relief. Another sprinkler was in his line after he dropped, so he received relief again, giving him a clear shot to the green.
When JB found trouble in the desert on the first extra hole — the 10th — and had to take an unplayable, Bubba yelled over at him, “Shoot me a text.”
Bubba got involved to make sure JB was dropping on the line. There was a lot at stake, after all. Usually, competitors are more aloof when players take drops, but in matchplay, it’s a different story. JB hit a good shot over the desert just short of the green, but the penalty cost him a stroke and he made bogey. Bubba rolled in a three-footer for par to win the match.
With the match receiving plenty of air time, it was blatantly obvious Holmes has an excruciatingly long pre-shot routine. I understand rulings can take a while and it’s important to get them right when so much is on the line, so I’m not referring to that. Someone needs to pull JB over and have a little chat with him. I feel bad calling him out because he’s one of the nicest and well-mannered guys (off the course), but he’s slowing down the rest of the field in stroke play events.
Afterward, Holmes said if he could take one shot back, it would have been his tee shot on the extra hole.
“I hit it in the bunker there, and the wind was not enough to carry it,” he said. “I hadn’t hit a knockdown driver all day. And my knockdown went left, and it put me in a difficult spot.”
Holmes didn’t know he was in the field until Tuesday after Tim Clark withdrew, so he can take away some positives from the week.
“It happens,” Holmes told NBC’s Mark Rolfing about blowing a big lead. “It happens every year to somebody. It hurts a little bit, but I’ll get over it.”
Bubba is playing against Martin Kaymer in the semis — the two faced each other in a playoff during the PGA Championship last August. Kaymer beat Bubba to capture his first major. Rematch!
Oh, by the way, I pick Kaymer. I kinda like his scarf. I mean, snood.
(AP Photos/Matt York)