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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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GolfWRX Insider: Interview with RSM Classic winner Robert Streb

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This week at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Robert Streb won in clutch fashion on the second playoff hole with a pitching wedge to within inches from 160 yards. It not only set up his second PGA Tour victory but also his second victory at Sea Island with his first also coming in a playoff against Brendon de Jonge in 2015.

After the win, we had the chance to speak with Robert about that final shot on 18 as well as his clubs, how he goes about testing new equipment, and the most common mistakes he sees from amateur golfers.

RB: To start, I have to ask you about the shot you hit on the second playoff hole to set up the win. It was a pitching wedge from the rough from 160 yards. How were you able to judge the distance so well?

RS: As soon as my caddie and I saw the lie we had a really good feeling it was going to jump a bit, and that’s why I hit my pitching wedge instead of my 9-iron. We don’t always judge it as right as we did on that shot, but the big key was to make a confident swing and trust that we made the right decision— it obviously worked out for the best.

RB: If we take a deeper look at the club you hit for that shot in the playoff, you use a pitching wedge that matches your wedges rather than one that matches your irons (Vokey Design SM8 46 degree) is there a specific reason you choose to use that club vs a set matching pitching wedge?

RS: For a long time I used the pitching wedge from my iron set, but for me being a self-described feel player I like using the Vokey 46 degree because I feel I have a bit more control on half shots because of the groove technology and the overall profile of the club. When the SM8’s hit the tour I asked Dill (Titleist wedge tech Aaron Dill) about getting set up with that, and it pretty much went right into the bag. I also really like using it around the green.

RB: Sticking to new equipment, you also recently put the Titleist TSi2 driver into play. What do you like about that club versus your previous driver, and what was your process for putting that club into play?

RS: I know I mentioned this already, but I really am a feel player when it comes to my clubs, and everything has to fit my eye. The TSi2 is really appealing since I’m a guy that plays a draw and the shape of the toe is extremely appealing at address behind the ball. I did a lot of hitting it on the range before ever getting on Trackman, because I want to know that I really love it before dialing it in.

The other thing I really like is the ability to hit it a bit higher and see a flight that I really like without having it ever feel out of control. Since I like to play a draw, I like that it helps my misses stay in the air longer and go straighter—like any golfer, I like knowing that my misses are going to be better when I switch to something new.

RB: We’ve talked wedges, and we’ve talked the driver, so now let’s talk everything in between and how you like to gap your set. You previously used a 2-iron as the next club after your 3-wood and now you go from a 3-wood to a 21-degree  hybrid and then a 4-iron. What are your main goals when gapping your set?”

RS: Over time I realized that I would make more birdies and save more shots using a gap wedge over a 2-iron, so I finally made the decision to take that out of the bag and play a full four-wedge setup (46/52/56/60) and use the hybrid. I used to have to work really hard at managing my distance gapping since there was almost a 20-yard gap in the short end of my bag, but now I don’t ever have to worry about that.

At the top end of my bag, the hybrid is really versatile and I always find I get more control with a shorter club with a bit more loft vs a 5-wood, so I’ve stuck with it since I really like the iron feel I get out of that club.

From there, my 4-iron (Titleist TMB) really plays like a 3 1/2 iron—I feel confident getting a few extra yards out of it when needed because it’s hollow, while still offering the ability to hit softer shots with it, which is whys its a club I don’t mess around with.

RB: Being a player at your level, you understand how to get around a golf course and minimize mistakes. If there was one piece of advice you could offer to golfers trying to break their next scoring barrier what would it be?

RS: The biggest mistakes I see golfers make is not playing within themselves and hitting shots they aren’t truly comfortable with. This could mean a shot around the green and trying to get too aggressive, or not pulling the right club on approach shots. When I play in pro-ams, the vast majority of golfers miss short and don’t take enough club—they hit the club they think should get there rather than the one that will, and over the course of a round of golf those missed shots add up.

Being able to take your medicine when you put yourself in a bad spot can be the difference between a bogey and a triple and a hole like that can mean the difference between making a cut, or in the case of many golfers, not getting to that next scoring barrier.

Check out Streb’s full WITB: Robert Streb’s RSM Classic winning WITB

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The DailyWRX (11/23/2020): Do not enter if…

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Don’t do it….

 

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My God…..

 

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“Bad Little 9″……..

 

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It’s an honest question…

True Legend spotted in the wild…

DM @johnny_wunder

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Morning 9: Streb gets 2nd win…at same course as first | World #1 picks up where she left off | Lynch: “Giving thanks in a lousy year”

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 23, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. A bit of housekeeping for this Thanksgiving week: Morning 9 will be expressing gratitude and ingesting holiday fare from Wednesday through Friday.

1. Second for Streb (finally)

PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Robert Streb thought the wins would keep on coming after his first victory at The RSM Classic. He had to wait six years for the next one, though.”
  • “Streb won The RSM Classic again Sunday, becoming the first two-time winner of this decade-old event at Sea Island Resort. He knocked a wedge within inches of the hole to beat Kevin Kisner on the second hole of their sudden-death playoff.”

 

  • “With the win, Streb became the first player since Dave Eichelberger in the 1970s to earn his first two titles at the same event but at least six seasons apart. Eichelberger won the 1971 and 1977 Greater Milwaukee Opens.”

2. Sei Young Kim wins Pelican Women’s Championship

AP report…”Sei Young Kim won the Pelican Women’s Championship on Sunday for her second straight victory, closing with an even-par 70 for a 3-stroke victory over Ally McDonald.”
  • “The KPMG Women’s PGA winner on Oct. 11 in her last start, the second-ranked Kim won for the 12th time on the LPGA Tour to break a tie for third on the South Korean victory list with Jiyai Shin, behind only Inbee Park (20) and Se Ri Pak (25).”

3. Hansen seals maiden victory in Johannesburg

EuropeanTour.com report…”He graduated from the European Challenge Tour in 2012 and 2015 but had a breakout year in 2018, claiming two Challenge Tour victories en route to becoming the first Dane to top the Rankings since Thomas Bjørn 23 years earlier.
  • “The 30-year-old had his best year to date on the Race to Dubai in 2019 as he finished in the top 50 on the Rankings presented by Rolex and, after securing an impressive top ten in the Rolex Series at the BMW PGA Championship last month, he is now a winner, making it a Danish hat-trick in 2020 after Rasmus Højgaard’s brace of victories.”

4. Lynch: Giving thanks in a lousy year—to Bryson, Brooks and the ‘stick to golf’ brigade

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch “…the grim realities of the pandemic and the attendant economic hangover suggest that at least part of ’21 won’t be much better, so perhaps its more important than ever amid our shared gloominess to spare a moment to recognize the things we are thankful for.”
  • “For Bryson DeChambeau, who single-handedly filled the long, dark days of summer with antics sufficient to fuel social media for an age. Blessed be his talent, his success, his work ethic and his stupendous absence of self-awareness. The PGA Tour and its fans are richer for all of the above.”
  • “For Brooks Koepka, whose most noteworthy shot during this truncated major season came at the PGA Championship, when he grazed his ex-pal Dustin Johnson in a Saturday night drive-by press conference. He also freely admitted that he wouldn’t share a protein shake with DeChambeau and that he’s not out to make friends on Tour, solidifying his reputation as a straight-shooter unafraid to flavor golf’s vanilla-centric menu.”

5. Doomed by distance

John Huggan for Golf Digest…”Three days after hitting the drive that echoed around the world of golf—a 439-yard bomb off the tee at the 597-yard par-5 fourth hole on the Randpark course during the opening round of the European Tour event—Wilco Nienaber arrived on the penultimate tee tied for the lead with Joachim B. Hansen. Unfortunately for Nienaber, a 20-year-old South African, that was as good as things would get. His tee shot on the 223-yard par-3 17th finished inches from the water that runs behind and left of the putting surface. A bogey, his first of the day, was the almost inevitable result from the awkward spot, the dropped shot putting Hansen one shot clear.
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6. Maria Fassi added to U.S. Women’s Open field.

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“It wasn’t that long ago, Fassi said, that she was 14th on the alternate list. But, as players begin to drop out, like Shanshan Feng for example, Fassi zipped up the list. The U.S. Women’s Open will take place Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.  “I was pretty sad honestly,” said Fassi of potentially missing out on the year’s final major. “For me, the U.S. Open is the one that I look forward to the most.”

7. A return to his trusty tools: Kisner back to Callaway Apex ‘14 irons

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For those who were really paying attention, they might have also recognized his familiar irons.”
  • “Kisner put into play this week the irons he won the ’14 event with. It was an attempt to find some consistency and control his ball flight in what were demanding conditions.”
  • “I was struggling with my distance control the last few weeks, couldn’t figure out if it was the change in the weather or if it was me or if it was the irons,” Kisner said. “I knew they were familiar and had some good history with them here, so they seemed to work.”

8. Niemann donates RSM paycheck to ailing cousin

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Joaquin Niemann missed the Masters last week after testing positive for COVID-19. It sounds like a horrible twist of fate until you consider that the 22-year-old Chilean is dealing with graver medical concerns.”
  • “Niemann’s one-month-old cousin, Rafita Calderon, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease that affects about one in every 10,000 babies born every year. Calderon is battling for his life, desperately needing a one-time injection of Zolgensma, a drug which according to Niemann costs $2.1 million.”

9. Streb’s winning WITB

Driver: Titleist TSi2 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow RipTide 60 6.5
3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 80 TX
Hybrid: Titleist TS3 (21 degrees, B2 Surefit)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Hy 95X
Irons: Titleist TMB (4), Titleist 620CB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M, 60-04L)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Prototype
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
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