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Bubba’s second Masters win establishes him as a major force

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It was shaping up to be a potentially all-time-special Masters Sunday.

The 54-hole leaderboard had a bit of everything: 15 players within five shots of the lead of all ages and experience levels. The final pairing of 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and 35-year old Bubba Watson would reflect the diverse leaderboard that also included 7th-ranked player Matt Kuchar paired with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt in the penultimate pairing a shot back and 25-year old Rickie Fowler playing alongside 50-year old Miguel Angel Jimenez, just two shots back. Oh, and don’t forget Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, for whom the Masters seems to be a one-week-a-year appointment with the Fountain of Youth.

In the end, the Green Jacket went to Watson, who fired a final-round 69 to win by three shots over Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt. With the victory, Watson, the 2012 champ, becomes the ninth player to win Masters two years apart. This year’s triumph saw him take control early and play steady golf over Augusta National’s famously volatile closing stretch to earn the victory.

The hard-hitting lefty’s second major championship win confirms the legitimacy of his first, especially in light of what had at times appeared mediocre and disinterested play between April 2012 and February 2014, when he seemed to find a spark. He followed a runner-up finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a victory at the Northern Trust Open, his first since the 2012 Masters.

Sunday’s performance was decisive, but not without drama. Watson opened with two pars, but his driver off the No. 3 tee put him out of position for his second shot and led to a bogey. True to form, though, he followed with a brilliant tee shot on the 243-yard par-3 fourth and rebounded with only the fourth birdie of the day on the hole after watching Jordan Spieth hole out from the front bunker. Few players have the ability to recover from such a mistake, but Watson proved his 2012 Masters victory was no fluke with the way he played after his early bogey.

The day’s main momentum swing came at the par-5 8th when Watson unleashed a 328-yard tee shot, leaving him within long iron range in two. While Watson made birdie, Spieth three-putted for bogey and both player were tied with 10 holes to play. Watson then birdied No. 9 while Spieth bogeyed to complete a four-shot swing in two holes, putting Watson in the lead for good.

Given the slightest cushion over Spieth and the rest of the field, Watson was able to bend the key parts of Augusta National Golf Club to his will. After his 328-yard bomb off the 8th tee, leading to a birdie, his hit a 366-yard drive that, in baseball terms, would be described as a “tape-measure shot.” A gap wedge from 144 yards remained and Watson two-putted for birdie to open up a three-shot lead that he would never relinquish. Two holes later, though, Watson had viewers and Masters patrons alike shaking their heads when, instead of laying up on the par-5 15th, he punched his second shot through a stand of pines left of the fairway to the collection area over the green, en route to a par. A bad break or poor execution would have brought a number of players back into the tournament, but Watson’s swashbuckling nature — termed “BubbaGolf” — would not be denied.

Early in the round, Spieth seemed poised to become only the second player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the Masters on his first attempt, but a number of errant shots kept him from challenging Watson over the closing holes. His tee shot at the par-3 12th came up short in Rae’s Creek and even though he was able to drop and get up and down for bogey, his struggles gave Watson the cushion he needed. In a year when final-round leaders have seldom been steady, 2014’s first major played out more or less by the book. The leader didn’t squander shots over the closing stretch; he conserved them and coasted to an impressive win.

The challengers never gained enough momentum to mount a back-nine charge, leaving the final pairing as the sole main contenders. Matt Kuchar will have to wait another couple months to pursue his first major championship. His chances were scuttled by an overabundance of shots missed to the left all day, as well as a four-putt double-bogey on the par-3 fourth. These were just a few unforced errors that will leave him majorless at least a bit longer.

Jonas Blixt showed off his famously excellent touch on and around the greens throughout the day but a number of errant full shots kept him from having enough birdie chances to contend. In the end, though, General Lee owner Bubba Watson would ride again over the prim, proper hills of Augusta National.

Onward goes the tour to Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage next weekend, with one eye on the Village of Pinehurst until Father’s Day Weekend and the next chapter in 2014’s major championship story.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jake

    May 29, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Bubba is a great player! If I could change one part of his game, it would have to be his finish, however, you have to have respect for a guy without lessons

  2. chris franklin

    Apr 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Bubba is a refreshing change in the monotonous world of professional golf but to label him as a ‘major force’ is an extravagant piece of journalistic nonsense.
    He has won the same tournament over the same course twice,a tournament that hardly justifies calling itself a ‘major’but nevertheless a splendid achievement.
    His record in the Open,the US Open and PGA is not good and until such time as he wins one or more of those your label is a misnomer.

  3. Jack

    Apr 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    No offense, but If your a contributing writer for a golf only site, you’d think you would know the majors by now. Why it is so hard to take any gear reviews on this site serious, never know the capabilities of the actual reviewer.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Apr 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Jack,

      You should know that our reviews are a team effort at GolfWRX. While we generally send clubs to a single reviewer for testing, nothing is published without me consulting at least one member of our panel of elite custom fitters to verify our tester’s findings and the performance of the club(s).

      In the coming months, we’ll do a better job of explaining what actually goes into our reviews so that readers like yourself can better understand what’s happening behind the scenes.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. c masty

    Apr 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Only 1 jacket is ever given, even to multi-year winners.

    • Ponjo

      Apr 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      Wrong c nasty. Every time they win they get a jacket to hang in their locker

  5. cole

    Apr 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    That seems to be becoming his course!

  6. Boo

    Apr 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Congrats Bubba! Bubba golf loves some Augusta National!

  7. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Isn’t the Players Championship a major?

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Bettinardi BB1 Wide putter review – Club Junkie Reviews

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Bettinardi has long been known as one of the best putter manufacturers in golf. The BB line is considered the company’s flagship. This year, Bettinardi took more input from the tour in order to optimize CG placements and refine the feel in the lineup. To optimize the CG and ensure that the sweet sport is in the correct location, Bettinardi engineers reshaped the shoulders and bumpers on the back of the head for better weight placement. The face also features a brand new Perpetual Flymill milling that enhances feel and feedback as well as gets the ball rolling more consistently. You can check out all of the details on the 2024 Bettinardi BB line of putters in our launch report. For a full review check out the Club Junkie podcast on all platforms or on YouTube below.

I have been using a Bettinardi BB8 Wide for the past two years, both previous generations, and really loved those putters. They were the first blade putters I have actually gamed in well over 10 years, so you know I was excited to see the 2024 BB lineup.

The BB1 Wide jumped out to me immediately, because it is similar to the BB8 Wide, just a little softer and with more rounded edges. Out of the box, the BB1 Wide looks great, and I think the new Black Pearl PVD finish has a slight shine to it that looks a little nicer and more high quality than the matte grey from the last generation. The gloss black stepless shaft and bright blue Lamkin grip are solid editions to the whole package and give the putter a little glitz that doesn’t distract. Finally, Bettinardi updated the BB covers to magnetic closure, and I am way too happy about that!

Out on the green, the BB1 Wide frames the ball well and you can easily see that it has a shorter heel-to-toe measurement than the BB8 Wide. From face to back the putter is wide, but I think the stubbiness of the head makes it look a touch wider than it really is. The look from address also greets you with a softer and more rounded look from the bumpers and overall shape of the head. As you would expect the flange is longer and includes a single site line for alignment. I like this setup as a single, longer, site line tends to be what I line up the best. A thicker topline is slightly rolled for a softer and thinner look that blends in well with the profile of this putter head. If you like the larger mallets that have been trending lately then I think you will enjoy looking down at the BB1 Wide.

On the course and the putting green, the Bettinardi BB1 Wide offers a great soft feel at impact, softer to me than last year’s BB8 Wide. Bettinardi’s Perpetual Fly Mill face has deeper grooves that provide this softer feel while still putting a nice roll on the ball. The greens up here in the north are still long and bumpy, but the BB1 Wide provided as smooth of a roll as it could under the conditions. Some playing partners were dealing with big hops and jumps in the first foot of their putts, but I never had that problem with the BB1 Wide. The initial roll limited the hop and skip more than I expected, and I felt like it started the ball on line very well. Aiming the putter was simple and easy as I had the same single site line on my previous putter.

The sole of the BB1 Wide is a little unique as it has a sound slot that runs the length of the cavity from heel to toe. We don’t see a lot of sound slots on retail putters but they are used to fine-tune the sound of a putter at impact. The use of the sound slot on the BB1 Wide definitely increases the audible sound at impact and gives it a slightly more metallic sound. I was a little worried that the sound would have too much “ting” to it or be offensively loud, but I was impressed that it was much more dialed down. Feel off the face was soft, definitely softer than the previous BB line. Now while that softer face is great, it does reduce a little of the feedback on where you struck the shot. You can tell the misses are there but they are a little softer than you would expect from a fully milled putter.

Forgivness with this putter is pretty good, and it will allow you to get away with less-than-perfect strokes. The amount of mass out on the toe and heel make the putter much more stable than a lot of blades. While it isn’t high mallet MOI stable the putter will show you that shots off the toe or heel will stay online well and come to rest right next to the hole. Distance control is precise and you won’t be stunned by a ball that jumps off the face with too much speed or the opposite. Putts on the putting green from the same spot just consistently toll to the same finish line, if they don’t drop into the cup.

Ultimately, a new finish, face milling, and design keep things fresh and high-performance but in a very classic package. Bettinardi did a great job mixing those things to keep the traditionalist and the gear junkies both happy. While the lineup doesn’t feature a massive amount of head shapes, it nails some core designs and should be a big hit for Bettinardi.

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Morning 9: Scheffler starts strong | Nelly stays in touch | Houston Open photos

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Friday morning, golf fans, as day two of the Houston Open gets underway.

1. Scheffler starts strong in Houston

AP report…” Scottie Scheffler had his 28th consecutive round under par to start the year, a 5-under 65 on Thursday that left him 1 shot behind Taylor Moore and Wilson Furr in the Houston Open.”

  • “Scheffler also extended his streak to 49 holes without a bogey dating to the third round of the Players Championship two weeks ago, where he became the first back-to-back winner in the 50 years of the PGA Tour’s flagship event.”
  • “The streak that matters is his bid for a third straight PGA Tour victory, a feat last accomplished seven years ago by Dustin Johnson.”
  • “That also was the last thing on Scheffler’s mind at Memorial Park, his final tournament before he heads to the Masters as a strong favorite.”
  • “I don’t ever really put expectations on myself,” Scheffler said. “I try to be committed to my shots. I try to stay patient out there. At the beginning of the week, I’m not looking forward toward Sunday. I’m just focused on today.”
Full piece.

2. Nelly stays in touch at Ford Championship

AP report…” Nelly Korda fought through brutal conditions to win in Southern California last week.”

  • “A solid opening round on a soft course in perfect weather has the world’s No. 1 player in position to win her third straight start.”
  • “Korda shot a 6-under 66 in the first round of the Ford Championship on Thursday, leaving her three shots back in a bid to become the first LPGA Tour player to win three straight starts in eight years.”
  • “Completely different today compared to last weekend,” Korda said. “The greens are quite soft. I know Arizona has been getting a good bit of rain throughout the winter. I knew there would be low scores out there, so needed to be aggressive.”
Full piece.

3. Why Malnati thinks his win resonated

Via Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Maybe they’re so good at winning that they just – it’s normal for them, and they’re right back in their normal routine the next day,” Malnati said Wednesday in Houston, where he’s in the field for the Texas Children’s Houston Open. “It certainly isn’t the case for me yet. So, there was definitely the thought on Sunday night and Monday morning like, oh, my goodness, I could use a week to just wrap my head around this like new reality that I have.”

  • “Malnati added: “I would not say I’m entirely focused yet on playing and working again, I still am enjoying it a little bit, but starting to get back into that mode of like wanting to do my job and keep building from here.”
Full piece.

4. Martin Trainer’s interesting putter backstory

Trainer talking to our Andrew Tursky…

  • You have the Internet going crazy over your bag setup, and your putter. Where’d you pick the Bobby Grace-Greg Chalmers putter up? How long have you had it?
  • MT: This was from when Bobby Grace came to my course in California: Cal Club. And for whatever reason, they just started having them in the shop. So then I took my buddy’s, started using it, and made, like, a million putts in a row, which is how every putter story begins, I guess.
  • And then, I bought a couple of my own, used it for years, got to the Tour with it, won on Tour with it (the 2019 Puerto Rico Open). Then, about a year later, started using another putter, did that for a couple years, but now it’s back in the bag.
  • When did it come back in the bag?
  • MT: December of this past year. So a few months ago.
  • What year would you say was the first time you threw that in the bag, or, like, when you bought it?
  • MT: God…Probably, 2016, maybe? 2018?
  • Do you remember how much you paid for it?
  • MT: I don’t know, actually. Maybe $100-150 bucks or something. I think that’s the only golf club I’ve bought between high school and now. Well, two, since I bought two of them.
Full piece.

5. Finau on driver shaft change

Our Brian Knudson…”Tony Finau has always been known as one of the longest players on the PGA Tour, but he has recently been working on adding a little more distance. Last year, Finau averaged 118.3 mph club head speed and 178.08 mph ball speed, all while playing a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX driver shaft. This year, he has increased his club head speed to 123.93 mph and his ball speed to 183.32 mph.”

  • “However, Finau’s overall distance has decreased by two yards in that time. From a fitting perspective, something was amiss. We asked Tony about the shaft change at the Texas Children’s Hospital Open.”
  • “[I’m seeing] better numbers with the spin. My driver’s been a little high spin for me over the last month or so, and so I just figured it was time to probably check out the equipment,” Finau said. “And it definitely showed me that I was using a shaft that’s maybe a little too tip-stiff for me, the way I load the club now. [I’m seeing] better numbers with the spin.”
Full piece.

6. A 71 with nine birdies

7. Photos from the Houston Open

  • Check out all of our photos from this week’s event!
Full piece.
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Morning 9: Wyndham Clark on back injury | DiMarco’s bold Champions Tour take | Houston Open photos

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the Houston Open gets underway.

1. Wyndham Clark hurts back…still hopes to play

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…”Reigning U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark injured his back while working out at home Monday, but he hopes to play in this week’s Texas Children’s Houston Open, which starts Thursday at Memorial Park Golf Course.”

  • “Clark, the fourth-ranked golfer in the world, said he was lifting weights and “got caught in an awkward spot doing a lift and [his] back went.”
  • “It’s not something that happens regularly, but it happened and you live and you learn,” Clark said. “I’m trending in the right direction. I’m hitting it or feeling stronger and more mobile every day. I’m going to give it my best effort tomorrow and hopefully I can play and compete. If not, I’ve got to get ready for tournaments to come after this.”
Full piece.

2. DiMarco’s bold Champions Tour take

Our Matt Vincenzi…”While speaking on the Subpar podcast, former PGA Tour winner and current PGA Tour Champions player Chris DiMarco said he hopes LIV buys the Champions Tour.”

  • “We’re kind of hoping that LIV buys the Champions Tour,” he said.
  • “Let’s play for a little real money out here. I mean this is kind of a joke when we’re getting $2 million. There were like seven guys last week from TPC (Sawgrass, at the $25 million PLAYERS Championship) that made more money than our purses.”
Full piece.

3. Charley Hull’s course management problem?

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Charley Hull came just short of her third LPGA Tour victory over the weekend at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship when she played her last two holes at 3 over to slip all the way to 10th on the leaderboard.”

  • “After the round, Hull was blasted by Sky Sports commentator and former LPGA Tour player Trish Johnson for her lack of golf course management.”
  • “While speaking on the Sky Sports Golf podcast, Johnson spoke harshly of Hull.”
  • “I’m probably her harshest critic, because I know how good she is. She doesn’t win anywhere near enough for her talent, and she doesn’t get involved enough, in all honestly.
  • “The thing with Charley is that you’re never going to change her. I read something the other day that said how much she loves the game and it’s her love of the game [that costs her]. She’s never going to change and she’s just going to go for every pin.
  • “In theory that’s great, but it won’t win you golf tournaments, it just won’t because she’s not that much better than anybody else.
Full piece.

4. Sahith’s interesting idea

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Which brings Theegala to his big idea: “There’s got to be something, like a fan challenge or – I think it would be awesome to see a scratch handicap go out and play like the Monday after a tournament, keep the same conditions and see what they would shoot just to put it into perspective how hard a PGA Tour golf course is.”

  • “Theegala loves the thought so much that he’d even come out and watch.”
  • “Shoot, I’d commentate on it,” Theegala added before continuing, “I have a pet peeve, sometimes when I watch golf on TV, a great example is hole 8 at Valspar last week. It’s a 230-yard par 3, the green’s 12 yards wide and someone will hit the middle of the green and, you know, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, really smart shot there.’ I’m like, ‘Well, no, he’s absolutely laced this 4-iron in the middle of the green, that’s right where he’s looking and to hit a 4-iron that straight is really, really hard.’ … Even like chipping, a lot of the stuff just looks flat on TV, but then when you get over the chip, like, oh, great, I have to land it over a mound on a downslope down grain?”
Full piece.

5. Top am Rachel Heck not going pro

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”As Rachel Heck nears the end of her college golf career, she has decided that the LPGA isn’t for her.’

  • “Heck, the 22-year-old Stanford senior who won an NCAA individual title as a freshman and has climbed as high as second in the world amateur rankings, penned a first-person essay for No Laying Up in which she explained her reasoning for remaining amateur after graduation this summer and starting an internship not in professional golf but rather private equity. Heck, a political science major, also will be pinned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.”

Read her piece on No Laying Up: https://nolayingup.com/blog/why-im-remaining-an-amateur

Full piece.

6. DJ’s new LIV signing

Golf Monthly’s Elliott Heath…”Dustin Johnson‘s LIV Golf team 4Aces GC has announced former TravisMathew CEO Chris Rosaasen as the side’s new General Manager.”

  • “Rosaasen, who is a long-time friend of Johnson, is also the founder of the team’s apparel sponsor Extracurricular and has been CEO of the Omniverse Group for the past four years.
  • “He joins with more than 20 years of “brand-building, marketing, and business leadership” according to LIV Golf, which says his “record of innovation in the golf industry will strengthen and accelerate the growth of the 4Aces GC brand.”
Full piece.

7. Photos from the Houston Open

  • Check out all of our photos from this week’s event!
Full piece.
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