Two tournaments to review this week on the PGA Tour. One featuring a classy field at a difficult Shanghai course, and the other, a rather boring field at a relatively unnoticed second tier event where a 17-year-old (Camden Backel) commanded the biggest gallery.
WGC HSBC Championship
A par five eighteenth makes for a gripping conclusion to golf tournament. That’s the conclusion from the recently concluded WGC event in Shanghai. Oh, and Bubba Watson is crazy; we also concluded that.
The 18th was the theatre of an epic ending to a tournament for the most part of the week seemed to be heading the way of Graham McDowell. However, the leader in all of the first three rounds succumbed to some breathtaking shotmanship from the unorthodox Bubba Watson who made eagle down the 72nd and then birdied the first playoff hole to beat South Africa’s Tim Clark.
In fact Bubba’s last five holes included an eagle, a birdie, a par, a bogey and a double bogey as he did his best to butcher the two shot lead he held on 16. To avert disaster Watson needed something special. A 60 yard downhill bunker shot for eagle was exactly the tonic. The eagle helped him tie Tim Clark, and when Martin Kaymer (73); Rickie Fowler (70); and Hiroshi Iwata (72) all failed to make an equalling birdie the field became two.
Watson birdied again after Clark had left his 25ft birdie putt short to win his seventh PGA Tour title. In doing so he became the 14th player to win a major and a WGC event. The winnings also included 500 FedEx Cup points and $1.4 million. The Watson win means he becomes the highest ranked American golfer.
Watson joked with his caddie before holing the final bunker shot; his caddie is quoted as saying “It’s been a miserable couple holes here, but this will change everything if it goes in,” an approach that is likely to be adopted by amateur hacks in their weekend games.
Sanderson Farms Championship
The regular PGA Tour event was far more sedate. A quiet two shot victory to Canadian Nick Taylor failed to match the golfing pyrotechnics that the best in the World were putting on in Asia.
However, for web.com graduate Taylor, the manner of the victory won’t matter in the slightest. His low final round was the catalyst for a three shot lead heading down the 18th. He would make bogey, sign on a 66, and win his first PGA Tour event. Taylor’s putting was the star of the show on Sunday; his birdie putts either dropped or burned the cup, and was in stark contrast to the efforts from pre-round favourites John Rollins (73) and William McGirt (72).
FedEx Cup leader Robert Streb had a decent week too. He finished eight to solid his position at the top of the
Of our predictions over both events, none came through for the win but we did have a top five from Rickie Fowler. Of the other picks William McGirt looked good throughout but faltered, finishing 7th. Danny Lee was T51 , and Nicholas Thompson T35. At the WGC HSBC, we chose Rickie Fowler (T3), Jordan Speith (T35), and Thorbjorn Olesen (T6).
Check back in later in the week for the PGA Tour Preview focusing on the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.
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