Bubba Watson has pulled off seemingly impossible shots throughout his career (e.g., 2011 Masters) — it’s his MO. Watson wowed and impressed once again, but this time in Shanghai at Sheshan International Golf Club in the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
After Watson snagged the solo lead on the back nine, he ran into trouble on nos. 16 and 17 with a bogey and double-bogey, respectively. And just like that, he had dropped three shots. Heading into the 18th with a two-shot deficit to Tim Clark, who was safely in the clubhouse, Watson needed an eagle on the par-5 final hole to force a playoff.
His second shot into the green found the greenside bunker. This, of course, meant that Watson now needed a near miracle and hole out from the sandy lie. Watson’s caddie Ted Scott, turned to his boss and said, “This is how legends are made.” Indeed. And what happened? Watson holed out from the bunker for eagle, naturally.
On the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, Watson found the same greenside bunker with his second shot. This time he knocked his attempt out to about 20 feet. After Clark missed his birdie putt, Watson drained his to capture his first career victory in a World Golf Championship event and his seventh career win.
This was also Watson’s first title outside of the United States.
“Holing out of the bunker, me getting excited, the crowd getting excited; I think if a junior golfer is watching that here in China or around the world that might inspire them,” Watson said. “They want to do that. It’s kind of like basketball, you want to hit that last game-winning shot.
“In terms of my own gratification, it was great to win outside the US. That is a big thing for me. I have always dreamed of winning at least one outside the US. Another goal of mine has always been to get 10 wins. Now I have seven.”
Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell held the 18, 36, and 54 hole leads, despite not having his best — relying heavily on the flatstick in the first three rounds. McDowell’s form caught up with him on Sunday, but he was still pleased with a tie for third result.
“I didn’t play well this week,” McDowell conceded. “I have to be brutally honest about that. To finish third in the style I did, I am disappointed. To finish third playing the way I did, I am pretty happy.
“The pins were evil at times, so you really had to be on with your iron play to access them. I didn’t play well enough, simple as that. To tie third in this type of field, not playing my best, I have to count myself fairly fortunate.”