Sunday, June 27, 2010

Watson takes Travelers Championship with steely playoff performance

Bubba Watson hit a solid tee shot on the first hole of a playoff at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. The left-hander hit his first shot 321 yards down the right side of the fairway that hugged the rough and bunker but stayed out of trouble. He rode the impressive tee-shot to his first career tour victory.

The first shot of the playoff hole put Watson in good position to overtake Scott Verplank and Corey Pavin, who all finished the fourth round of the weekend tournament at -14.

Verplank put the pressure on Watson with his second shot that landed within six feet of the cup. But Watson answered with a great sand wedge that nearly went in the hole and came to a rest an inch from the cup. He tapped in for a birdie on the par-4 18th.

Verplank sank a birdie putt to keep the playoff going, however.

Pavin had a tougher go on the fisrt playoff hole. He shot out of the bunker with his third shot and fell a stroke behind to be eliminated.

On the second playoff hole Verplank missed the green, but avoided the bunker on the par-3 16th. Watson, on the other hand, hit a nine iron for his first shot on the 158-yard hole and found the green, but landed a good distance from the pin.

Despite being on the green, Watson was further from the cup and took his second shot before Verplank. His putt came up well shy of the hole.

Verplank tried a less-orthodox approach when he putted onto the green from the fairway. The ball bounced sharply to the left, but he may have avoided some headache versus trying a precise chip. Verplank missed his third shot wide to the left and gave Watson an opportunity to win his first tour victory.

Watson stared down the putt, found the center of the cup and gave his wife a tearful embrace as he celebrated the long-overdue championship.

Verplank deserves credit for even making the playoff. The right-handed linkster put his bunker shot in the hole for eagle on the 15th. The two strokes ended up being the two needed to tie Watson and Pavin.

Watson and Pavin shot -4 during the final 18 holes, while Verplank charged from behind with a -6. Regardless of Verplank’s gutty performance today, the tournament and the spotlight rightfully went to Watson, who kept his composure and outlasted his counterparts.

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