Bubba Watson almost didn’t enter the Zurich Classic because he said TPC Louisiana didn’t fit his eye, but his mom pushed him to play. Mom knows best, right? Right. Bubba beat Webb Simpson on the second extra hole, the par-5 18th (which they played three times on Sunday), for his second victory of the season. Interestingly enough, Bubba captured his first win on the PGA Tour ten months ago at the Travelers Championship, and in February he won the Farmers Insurance Open. Is it safe to assume he’s fully insured?
“I’m still trying to get over the first win,” said Bubba. “I’m trying to get over the first one. Somehow I won the first one and somehow now I’ve got three. A year ago I was a good player who never won, and now I’ve got three under my belt. So it’s crazy.
“It’s something that I could never dream of. For me to get one was unbelievable. My career was complete. I’ve done it. Then for me to get another one just adds to my career. It’s something I’ve dreamed about doing.”
Watson and Simpson shared the 54-hole lead and shot a pair of 69s on Sunday to force a playoff. On the first extra hole Bubba rolled in a 12-footer to match Simpson’s birdie. Back to the 18th tee…again. Bubba, who admittedly doesn’t like that shot, found the fairway bunker, while Webb was safely in the short grass. Webb’s second landed in the bunker, short of the green, near the lip. He blasted it out to about 12 feet and missed the birdie putt to extend the playoff.
Bubba hit a beautiful 7-iron to about 50 feet, setting himself up for a two-putt birdie and the win.
“It was just nerve racking,” said Bubba of the 18th tee shot. “I knew in my mind do not pull it. We’ve got to make sure we slice it and hit it to the left. So I did that both times. The last time I said I don’t want to go to the par 3 17, so I’m just going to try to man up and hit one dead straight, and it went dead straight and went in the bunker.
“But I’ve hit that bunker shot before over the year that’s we’ve played here…Those tee shots are scary.”
After nine holes, it appeared as if Simpson would run away with the title, holding a three-shot advantage at one point, but he encountered some bad luck on the 15th. He stepped up to putt a one-footer for par when the wind caused the ball to move after he’d already addressed the ball and grounded his putter. Under the Rules of Golf, Simpson, who is still winless on the PGA Tour, incurred a one-shot penalty, which turned out to make all the difference.
With this win, Bubba moves from No. 16 to No. 10 in the world rankings, and the second player, along with Mark Wilson, to notch multiple titles in 2011.
“My goals don’t change,” said Bubba. “The media’s going to say I’m a better player. The media’s going to say I’m higher ranked. I should be playing great in this tournament or that tournament. But if I play the way Bubba should play, the way I know I can play, then I know I should be somewhere around at least the cut. That’s the way I see it.”
That’s exactly what we’re going to do! I’ll save it. But what do you all think? — is Bubba the best American player at the moment?
(AP Photo/Bill Haber)