With Justin Rose dominating The Travelers Championship in the early goings it looked like the 2010 edition of the event would be a runaway. In the end it turned out to be a more compelling story than anyone could have imagined.
Deep into the fourth round Sunday Justin Rose began a downward spiral from which he would not recover, eventually shooting a 75 to share 9th place. Joining him on the descent was Ben Curtis, his fellow frontrunner on the day – at least for the front nine.
By the time Justin’s golf ball found a watery grave on the 14th three other characters in the script were coming to the forefront, ultimately setting the stage for an encore performance beyond regulation.
It was an unlikely trio – 50 year-old Corey Pavin, 20+ year Tour veteran Scott Verplank, and the much-beloved but non-winner on Tour, Bubba Watson all earning a spot in a playoff after each posting 14 under par.
In seemed implausible that Bubba would even be in the playoff. Starting the day six strokes back, his final round was a mix of play. A double bogey on the 17th hole looked to keep him out of reach of his 1st PGA Tour win but an incredible birdie on the 18th, where a cart path helped him to a near 400 yard drive, paved the way for his spot in the ultimate showdown. He recorded five birdies on his back nine Sunday and added another from just inches on the 1st playoff hole.
Verplank matched Bubba to force a 2nd extra hole while Pavin was dispatched to sit on the sidelines and consider a couple more options for his Ryder Cup Team this Fall.
Ultimately Watson would need just a par, completed with a three-foot putt, to win the playoff and once he did the emotions of his first PGA victory came to the surface as he embraced his wife Angie on the side of the green in a tearful celebration.
It is a popular victory among many circles and one a lot of people expected much sooner. The self-taught Watson, now 31, is not only known for his prodigious length but an ability to play just about every type of shot.
Largely self-taught, Watson adheres to no swing philosophy and credits his father with starting him in the game. It was his father he dedicated his win to today, mentioning his struggle with Cancer on the post-round interview with CBS. “Without my parents I wouldn’t be anything,” said Bubba who is deeply religious and has never been afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.
As his 16,000+ followers on Twitter know – he is an open book and that endears him to anybody he is in contact with. In fact he actually sent out a Tweet just before the playoff began. Who else on the PGA Tour has started their own online campaign to get themselves on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and succeeded? Bubba Watson is no cookie cutter pro and a lot of people like that flavor.
With his win the lanky Watson now jumps past the $1 million in earning mark for the 5th straight year, each year he has been on the PGA Tour, but more importantly he gets that elusive first win.
Now that he has cracked that egg, who knows how many more wins he can achieve.
And the possibility of making the Ryder Cup Team this fall? You know Corey Pavin has to be drooling at the possibility of having a man of Watson’s length and creativity available in match play format.
It’s safe to say Bubba Watson winning The Travelers Championship made a lot of people smile today.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)