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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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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 John Deere Classic

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GolfWRX was on site at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, this week — and we have the WITBs and photos from the range and putting green to prove it!

We have seven general galleries for you to “mow” through as well as 13 WITB galleries — including Jason Day and Sahith Theegala.

Fire up your tractor and check out links to all our photos below and see what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

 

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Tour Rundown: Third major for Chun | Xander | Harrington

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As the golf season truncates, major events are played nearly every week. As greater support and visibility are offered across all genders and ages, the golfing public is compelled to keep its level of excitement at a fever pitch. This week, Merion; next week, Brookline. The following week, Congressional. And in July, the Old Course at St. Andrews. It simply doesn’t end. How fortunate are we who are able to follow these exciting pathways!

This week, the PGA Championship for women was held at Congressional Country Club, near the capital of the USA. The PGA Tour traveled across New England, from Brookline to Hartford. The DP World Tour celebrated an event in Germany, while the Korn Ferry Tour relocated to Maine. As for the USGA, it moved its staff from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, to run the USGA Senior Open for men. The highways and byways were busy with travelers, but we are still able to run down the best of five tours. Please, join us!

USGA/LPGA: PGA Championship is Chun’s third major title

How much of a lead does one golfer have to establish, to post 75-75 on the weekend and still win the tournament? For In Gee Chun, the answer was somewhere around seven or eight strokes. The Korean champion surged ahead of her peers through 36 holes, then fell behind a surging Lexi Thompson. The finish was one for the ages, for good and bad reasons.

Thompson has been a hard-luck competitor over the years. She has surged in many a major, only to fall back and come oh-so-close. Sunday in June of 2022 was a replay of those crushing defeats. Thompson began the day with two birdies in three holes, to make a move as Chun faltered. Meanwhile, In Gee stood plus-four on the day through nine holes, and had fallen off the pace. Even when Thompson faltered with bogey at the seventh, she still held a lead as they turned for home.

It was then that Chun steadied herself. She played the inward half under par, which is what champions do. Thompson came home with the unsteady gate of a newborn pony. She posted four bogeys against two birdies, and finished one excruciating stroke behind Chun, in a tie for second with US Open champion Minjee Lee. The win was her third major, after previous triumphs at the Evian and the US Open.

USGA/PGA Tour Champions: USGA Senior Open nearly escapes Harrington

Padraig Harrington knows what it’s like to have a major title handed to him by an unfortunage opponent. On Sunday, he nearly bequeathed a similar gift to Steve Stricker. Harrington carried a sizable lead into round four at Saucon Valley, only to blow his advantage by the 11th green. Steve Stricker gathered six birdies from the 8th hole on, to reach nine under par with the day’s low round of 65. Just when all seemed lost, Harrington secured a birdie at the par-four 15th, then parred his way in for a one-shot margin of victory.

Harrington stood at eleven-under par through three rounds, and seemed in total control of the Senior Open. His game on Sunday was all about holding on and trusting that things would work out. With nothing to lose, Stricker played wth the opposite mentality. His putter was hot and his scorecard turned red with birdies. Unfortunately for the Wisconsin native and the 2019 champion of this event, his recovery would end one shot shy of a playoff. Harrington would convert a few clutch putts down the stretch, to earn a first USGA title.

PGA Tour: Travelers Championship to Schauffele

Eyes were on the final pairing of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay as round four commenced near Hartford. By day’s end, a Massachusetts amateur nearly stole the show and the title. The pair who were invincible as a team at the most recent Ryder Cup, played mundane golf on Sunday at River Highlands. While Schaufele stumbled to a one-over front nine, Cantlay was erratic beyond words. Four bogeys, a double, and two birdies saw him to 39 and what would ultimately be an 11-spot drop, to 13th place.

As the cards were dealt, J.T. Poston and Sahith Seegala emerged as Schauffele’s challengers. Each would finish at 17-under par on the day. Would it be enough to catch the Olympic gold medalist? Also ringing bells was New England amateur Michael Thorbjornsen. The former US Junior champion parlayed four birdies and an eagle into a challenge of his own. Bogeys at 12 and 13 ended his charge, but the Stanford student and golfer would awaken memories of Francis Ouimet in his attempt at winning against the professionals.

In the end, it was Schauffele for a sixth PGA Tour win, at 19-under par. Is a major title in the offing? It’s the next step for the recently-married golfer who has nearly everything else. Thorbjornson’s fourth-place finish was also noteworthy, and the tour prepared to head to the middle of the continent, for the John Deere Classic.

 

DP World Tour: BMW International is Haotong’s third

On Sunday in Germany, Haotong Li fought against the reality of a first win in four years. He also fought against the memory of nearly giving up professional golf in 2021. Each time he had a run of birdies, a pair of bogeys would pedal him backward. Ryan Fox was the first to take a run at the leader, but fell a pair of shots shy at -20. Fox was three-under on the day through nine, but needed four-under on the back.

Next came Thomas Pieters. After trading two birdies and two bogeys over the first six holes, Pieters caught fire with five birdies over the next twelve holes, and reachedd 22-deep. Haotong Li fell two off Pieters’ pace, but rallied with birdies at 15 and 16 to catch Pieters. The two reached the par-five 18th in three during a brief playoff. Haotong buried a massive birdie effort, and Pieters was unable to match. The win was Hatotong’s first since the 2018 Dubai Desert Classic.

Korn Ferry Tour: Live and Work in Maine Open is work for Coody

Pierceson Coody was paired in the final round with home-state amateur Cole Anderson. More shades of Francis Ouimet; could a local, non-profesional win here? After the front nine finished on day four, who would win wasn’t the question. Instead, it was by how much, and could Coody shoot 59.

The recent NCAA team champion from UTexas caught fire in his third professional start, and posted five birdies and one eagle for 28 on the outward half. With the sub-60 watch in full form, Coody proceeded to make bogey at holes 10 and 11. Away went the notion of the record round, and out trotted concern for whether Coody would give back all of his fine work. Coody steadied, and posted seven consecutive pars for 66 and a 20-under par total. A slew of Korn Ferry Tour veterans had joined the chase, but one of them would need a 28 of his own on the back nine, to have a chance.

Jacob Bergeron matched Coody’s 66, and reached 15-below. Nelson Ledesma, Will Gordon, and Fabián Gómez finished one back of Bergeron in third. As for Anderson, birdies at 9 and 10 got him to red figures on the day, but late-round ups and downs brought him to plus-one on the day and his own spot in the third-place tie. Enviable work, but not what he had wanted at sun’s rise.

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Winning Footwear: Xander Schauffele’s Adidas Tour360 22 golf shoes at the Travelers Championship

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Xander Schauffele capitalized on Sahith Theegala’s 72nd-hole misfortune at the 2022 Travelers Championship. X cozied a wedge approach next to the pin and rolled in a 3-footer for a two-stroke victory.

On his feet at TPC River Highlands: Adidas Tour360 22 golf shoes.

The most recent incarnation of the Three Stripes’ flagship tour shoe is available in seven colorways. Schauffele looked to be sporting the Cloud White/Cloud White/Silver Metallic in Connecticut.

An upper made in part with recycled materials is joined with Adidas’ Boost midsole for energy return and enhanced comfort. The compay also touts its 360Wrap design for support, which works in tandem with the Insite sockliner for comfort and balance. A very spike intensive Spikemore traction system sees six twist-in spike on the TPU sole of the shoe in a bid for maximum traction.

Adidas Tour360 golf shoes retail for $210.

See Xander Schauffele’s winning WITB from the Travelers here.

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