Bubba Watson roars back to claim victory
Masters champion Bubba Watson roared back to beat Tim Clark in a playoff after seemingly blowing his chances down the back nine of the WGC-HSBC Champions on a super Sunday in Shanghai. Watson punched the air after holing an outrageous 20-yard bunker shot for eagle at the 18th to get into a playoff with South Africa’s Clark at 11-under.
The left-hander then rolled in a lightning quick 20-foot putt down the hill on the same hole for the winning birdie, sparking wild celebrations for his first world golf championships event win and his first victory of any kind outside of US. Leading at 12-under par with three holes to play, Watson had seemingly imploded with a bogey followed by a double-bogey at the 16th and 17th to fall to nine under. At that point five players were a shot ahead of him, until his magic from the sand saw him finish 11-under for the tournament. Clark, playing alongside Watson, holed out for birdie from six feet at 18 to also get to 11 under as Rickie Fowler’s chance disappeared into the greenside water. The final group of overnight leader Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata then all failed to get the birdie they needed to join the extra-holes shootout.
Watson turned up the heat in the front nine with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth to lead at the turn by one from McDowell and Kaymer. Watson put his drive into the water at 13 and dropped a shot to slip back alongside McDowell, one ahead now of Kaymer who dropped a shot at the 11th after finding sand twice.
Watson then birdied the par-five 14th from 15 feet to put himself alone in froant. Iwata, who was hanging on grimly after a two-over par outward half, finally nailed his first birdie at 11th and clawed his way back into contention with a fine back nine before Watson’s stunning finish.