Even with 3 wins, Bubba Watson says not his best year yet
POTOMAC, Md. (AP) — Even after winning for the third time in his last nine starts, Bubba Watson wasn’t willing to say it’s his best year in golf.
And he’s right.
Watson got the year wrong, though his memory was clear after closing with a 63 to win the Travelers Championship. It was in 2014 that he won at Riviera, held off Jordan Spieth to win the Masters and then closed out the year with a wild finish in Shanghai, where he made double bogey on the 17th hole, holed out a bunker shot for eagle on the 18th hole and won the HSBC Champions in a playoff.
“The birth of our child was two days later,” he said. “Angie was in the hospital with the birth mom. I was in China at that time celebrating a victory, but celebrating a beautiful child that nobody knew about at that moment.”
The three victories in 2014 included a green jacket from Augusta National, so that raises the stakes.
But there’s more.
Watson also had three runner-up finishes in 2014 at the Phoenix Open, Cadillac Championship at Doral and the BMW Championship. He wound up second on the money list to Rory McIlroy.
That’s why there’s still work left this year, thought he won’t complain about the start.
Watson has lacked the consistency this year. Aside from his three victories, he has only two other top 10s — a tie for fifth at the Masters and a tie for ninth in the Mexico Championship.
Dustin Johnson has two victories, along with three finishes in the top three, four more in the top 10 and he has yet to miss the cut.
Watson, though, is in a good spot.
Along with taking home another trophy, he immediately gave back to the Travelers Championship. Watson donated $200,000 to support “The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp,” the primary beneficiary of the tournament. Founded by Paul Newman in 1988, it provides a camp experience for children facing serious illnesses.
“Bubba is a tremendous person with a huge heart, and this unbelievable gesture is a demonstration of how much he cares about others,” said Andy Bessette, the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Travelers.
The British Open added six more players to the field for Carnoustie from the PGA Tour and European Tour based on standings in their season points race.
Patton Kizzire, Chesson Hadley and Luke List each earned a spot by being among the leading five players not already eligible from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup through the Travelers Championship. Matt Wallace won in Germany and joined Alexander Bjork and Jorge Campillo, who earned their places by being among the top 20 in the Race to Dubai through the BMW International Open.
Three spots are available to the leading three players from the top 10 and ties at the French Open, provided they aren’t already eligible.
An even better chance exists at the Quicken Loans National, where the leading four players from the top 12 will get to Carnoustie. The National has a 120-man field this week, and 105 of those players are not currently exempt for the British Open.
Jon Rahm doesn’t want to be throwing clubs. He doesn’t want to hide his emotions, either.
Rahm was caught on video going through a tirade at the U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills. He tried to keep his emotions in check at Shinnecock Hills, and he’s not sure that brings out his best golf.
“Because of what happened last year in the U.S. Open, I went with the mindset of I’m going to try to behave perfectly, which means having a smile on my face the whole time,” Rahm said Tuesday from the French Open. “And it’s hard to go against who you are, to be honest. What I mean to play better is just letting myself feel my emotions, letting the emotions flow through me rather than trying to hold myself.
“I was more focused on trying to control myself rather than playing golf.”
Rahm is renowned for his passion, which comes across as a nasty temper at times. He burns inwardly at mistakes, though at times he has harnessed those emotions into making birdies.
“It is the last time I’m ever going to make the mistake of trying to be somebody who I’m not,” he said.
Three tours in Europe are coming together for a new tournament next year in which men and women will compete on the same course for one prize.
The Jordan Mixed Masters is scheduled for April 4-6 at Ayla Golf Club and will feature 40 players each from the European Challenge Tour, the Ladies European Tour and the Staysure Tour (seniors). There also will be one leading amateur among men, women and seniors.
All three tours will co-sanction the event.
Members from the three tours will play from different yardages on the same course while competing in a single event. The field will be cut to 60 for the final round.
“There seems to be an appetite in golf for mixed events right now, and this is another opportunity to deliver another entertaining, yet credible, format,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.
The PGA Tour began its anti-doping program 10 years ago this week at the National. It started with random urine samples, and recently added blood testing. In 10 years, only five players have been suspended under the program — Doug Barron, Bhavik Patel, Mark Hensby, Scott Stallings and Brad Fritsch. ... U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is off until the British Open, which is not to suggest he’ll be fully rested. Koepka was headed to Boston this week with a group of 11 close friends, and then planned to return to Florida before heading to his best friend’s bachelor party. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen,” Koepka said. ... PGA Tour rookie Lanto Griffin would love to play well enough to build up some name recognition and start a foundation so he can give back to golf. For now, he’s donating what he can. Griffin won a closest-to-the-hole event on Tuesday of the Traveler’s Championship and donated the $10,000 prize to the charity of his choice — the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame Scholarship. “That was special — $10,000 can go a long way for a kid going to college,” Griffin said.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jordan Spieth has not finished closer than 12 shots of the winner since the Masters.
“It’s never that far away.” — Rory McIlroy on the state of his game.