Six strokes behind to start the final round at the Travelers Championship, Bubba Watson knew he needed something spectacular to win. Watson himself said that he thought he would need a 60, a score that has not been shot on Tour this season.
He shot a 63, but that was still enough.
Watson scored his third victory of the season by winning at TPC River Highlands for the third time, shooting 7-under par to win by three strokes over J.B. Holmes, Beau Hossler, and 54-hole leader Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship.
The site of Watson’s 12th career win was the same as his first win, which occured in 2010. Despite TPC River Highlands being a shorter course, Bubba, one of the Tour’s more well-known bombers has a clear affinity for it. A tournament that has been held since 1952, only Hall of Famer Billy Casper (4) has won the event more than Watson’s three times.
His third win in 15 events this season, he now leads the PGA Tour in that most desired of statistics.
FINAL TOP 10
1. Bubba Watson -17
2. Stewart Cink -14
2. Beau Hossler -14
2. J.B. Holmes -14
2. Paul Casey -14
6. Kevin Tway -13
6. Brian Harman -13
6. Russell Henley -13
9. Bryson DeChambeau -12
9. Anirban Lahiri -12
9. Chase Seiffert -12
12. Jason Day -11
12. Rory McIlroy -11
15. Patrick Cantlay -10
15. Charley Hoffman -10
19. Brooks Koepka -9
19. Zach Johnson -9
26. Si Woo Kim -8
42. Jordan Spieth -4
47. Keegan Bradley -3
56. Justin Thomas -2
67. Daniel Berger E
74. Padraig Harrington +4
1. Zach Johnson -7 (63)
1. Jordan Spieth -7 (63)
3. Peter Malnati -6 (64)
3. Brian Harman -6 (64)
77. Bubba Watson E (70)
1. Brian Harman -10 (64-66)
1. Matt Jones -9 (65-66)
3. Russell Henley -9 (66-65)
3. Zach Johnson -9 (63-68)
8. Bubba Watson -7 (70-63)
1. Paul Casey -16 (65-67-62)
2. Russell Henley -12 (66-65-67)
3. Brian Harman -11 (64-66-69)
3. J.B. Holmes -11 (66-68-65)
3. Anirban Lahiri -11 (67-67-65)
6. Bubba Watson -10 (70-63-67)
1. Rory McIlroy – 334.9 yards (T12)
2. Kevin Tway – 321 yards (T6)
3. Justin Thomas – 318.2 yards (T56)
7. Bubba Watson – 311.7 (1st)
1. Russell Henley – 47/56, 83.9% (T6)
1. Kyle Stanley – 47/56, 83.9% (T15)
3. Emiliano Grillo – 46/56, 82.1% (T19)
3. Richy Werenski – 46/56, 82.1% (T26)
70. Bubba Watson – 29/56, 51.8% (1st)
1. Russell Henley – 62/72, 86.1% (T6)
2. Sam Ryder – 60/72, 83.3% (T26)
3. Emiliano Grillo – 59/72, 81.9% (T19)
7. Bubba Watson – 55/72, 77.8% (1st)
1. Jason Day – 1.574 (T6)
2. Stewart Cink – 1.630 (T26)
3. Billy Hurley III – 1.634 (T19)
5. Bubba Watson – 1.643 (1st)
HOW BUBBA WATSON WON
After a third-round 62, Paul Casey, who came into the week 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings, held a four-stroke lead that looked very likely to hold.
The 40-year-old Englishman has struggled to close out late leads in the past, but after a win at March’s Valspar Championship, Casey’s first PGA Tour triumph since 2009, the monkey was believed to be off his back.
An opening-hole birdie extended his lead further, but surprisingly, it would be his only birdie of a final round that saw a plethora of red scores.
In fact, Casey’s 2-over 72 was the only over-par score among the top 37 players on the final leaderboard.
Watson carded pars on his first four holes of the day, making a Sunday comeback look even more unlikely. He then landed his tee shot on the par-3 fifth hole just five feet from the hole, and that birdie would lead to two others by the turn. Casey made the turn in even-par, but still held a considerable lead.
Watson kept the heat on the back nine, adding birdies on 10, 12, 13, and 15, and suddenly, it appeared that Casey’s lead might not be as safe as it had first appeared.
Casey parred the first six holes on the back nine, and Watson caught him after a birdie on the 15th. A beautiful approach shot on 18, a shot that his caddy called one of the best of his career, gave Bubba a short birdie putt to close with his second 63 of the week, which he would convert.
Casey three-putted the par-3 16th hole to lose his lead for the first time, and then, needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, he sent his tee shot on 17 into the water, more or less handing Watson the victory. Casey ended up in a three-way tie for second place.
Driving: 311.7 yards (7th)
Fairways: 29/56, 51.8% (70th)
Greens: 55/72, 77.8% (7th)
Putts Per GIR: 90 putts/1.643 (5th)
Scoring: 1 Eagle, 22 Birdies, 42 Pars, 7 Bogeys
Par-3 Scoring: +1 (2 Birdies, 11 Pars, 3 Bogeys)
Par-4 Scoring: -11 (15 Birdies, 29 Pars, 4 Bogeys)
Par-5 Scoring: -7 (1 Eagle, 5 Birdies, 2 Pars)
WHAT IT MEANS FOR BUBBA WATSON
A winless and severely underwhelming 2017 season left many wondering how much success the 39-year-old Watson had left in him, but now with three victories in 2018, it is apparent that the two-time Masters champion is nowhere close to finished.
The victory vaults Bubba into the third position on the FedExCup standings, an enormous improvement on a 2017 where he finished the season 113th and did not qualify for the final two playoff events.
With wins at the Genesis Open and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Watson becomes the first three-time winner on Tour this season, and clinches his first career season with at least three victories. His $5 million in season earnings is more than he accumulated in the past two seasons combined, and dwarfs the $1.2 million he made in 22 starts last season.
Declining play in the latter half of 2016 left Watson off the last American Ryder Cup team, but with this year’s edition taking off in Paris in three months, Watson will not have to rely on Jim Furyk granting him one of his Captain’s selection.
Wins: 1st (3)
Money: 4th ($5,000,485)
FedExCup: 3rd (1,802 pts)
Ryder Cup: 5th (5,388.024)
World Ranking: 13th (5.578 avg)
World Ranking (U.S.): 7th (5.578 avg)
Beginning the final day of the Travelers Championship outside the top 20, Stewart Cink got his Sunday off to about as well of a start as possible, carding birdies on six of his first seven holes.
The 45-year-old would add four more birdies on the back nine to shoot a low-round 8-under 62 and finish in the runner-up position; Cink’s best result since winning the 2009 Open Championship.
The T2 is Cink’s second top-10 of the year, with the previous coming in his last start. His ten final-round birdies gave him 23 for the week, which co-lead the field.
Tying Cink as a tournament runner-up was young standout Beau Hossler, who shot a 4-under 66 to capture the second runner-up of his first full-time PGA Tour season. The 23-year-old University of Texas star was quiet for much of the day, but exploded up the leaderboard after four birdies in his final six holes.
Hossler had been nowhere near the first page of a leaderboard since his playoff loss at the Houston Open on the first of April, but he appears motivated to begin a new surge.
Chase Seiffert was a Monday qualifier with no status on any Tour, but a 6-under 64 led to a T9 result in just his fourth career PGA Tour start.
The 26-year-old from Florida played his front nine 5-under, far and away the best stretch of his professional career. Seiffert carded just one bogey over his final two rounds and finished third in the field in strokes gained: around-the-green.
Paul Casey’s 72 tied for the worst score in the Sunday field among the final 55 on the leaderboard, but the 2-over effort was not the only disappointing round four score.
Round-one leader Zach Johnson needed birdies on his final two holes, and three over his final four, to post a 1-under 69, leading to a disappointing T19 result.
Johnson’s usually-sharp iron game went missing on Sunday.
Former PGA Tour star Hunter Mahan was in line for his best finish since the Fall series, but after opening the week with three straight 2-under 68s, a 4-over 74 caused him to plummet a field-high 34 spots down the final leaderboard, finishing in a tie for 56th place.
Mahan needed three late birdies just to post the round he did, and continues a puzzling fall from grace for the six-time Tour winner.
Justin Thomas is currently second in both the FedExCup standings and the world rankings, but did not look anything like it in the final round.
The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year could not get anything going Sunday, shooting a dismal 3-over 73 that dropped him 24 spots down the leaderboard. A T56 finish was 31 spots worse than his previous worst finish of the season in individual events.
Thomas will try to reset his game overseas at the HNA Open De France, the first of three-straight Rolex Series events leading up to the 147th British Open at Carnoustie. It will be Thomas’ first European Tour start since an appearance at the Alfred Dunhills Links Championship in 2013 when he was fresh out of school and held a world ranking of 1025.
A SECOND HOME
“It’s absolutely amazing! It’s hard to put into words, but it’s a second home. The fans here, the sponsor here, everyone treats me so good. To do this in front of this huge crowd, pretty special. To hit some of those shots, especially that shot on 18 down when it was really difficult, but somehow pulled it off, and that’s what we all try to do on Sundays is pull off the amazing shot.”
FINAL SCORES, MONEY: TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
TPC River Highlands | Cromwell, CT | June 24, 2018