Almost two years ago, Bubba Watson was on top of the PGA Tour, having just won the Masters in dramatic fashion. Little could any of us know that it would be his last victory, at least until this weekend.
Certainly at times in recent weeks, it seemed like the winless streak was going to end, but at every turn something broke in the wrong direction that cost the long-bombing fan favorite another trip to the winner’s circle. Just two weeks ago, Watson looked to be in control at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but when a five-foot par putt just missed on the 72nd hole, Kevin Stadler snatched up the opportunity, and Watson was left wondering what he had to do.
Of course, that answer was clear. As good as Watson had played, bogeys crept up when his hot putting started to cool off. Instead of being deterred, he came to Riviera Country Club even more prepared, and would not let that happen again.
Watson actually just made the cut at the Northern Trust Open at -1, but what happened after that was pure magic. After making three double bogeys in the first two rounds, Watson went bogey-free through the weekend, shooting back-to-back rounds of 64 to win for the fifth time in his career.
This win goes to show how Watson continues to develop his game all around. He made his name as a power driver, and he still has that in spades. He hit the third-most greens in regulation this week, and his 22 birdies that followed were tops as well. Time after time, he made smart decisions approaching holes down the stretch, and when he found himself in trouble, his bunker play was outstanding. “Bubba Golf” is a lot of fun, but smart iron play and solid putting are to thank for this win.
Through five official events, Watson now has three top-ten finishes, and he’s been steadily improving each week. His aggressive style of play is still going to lead to some blowup rounds and some tough weeks, but if he continues to grow, nobody should be surprised to see him holding another trophy or two by year’s end. Who knows, maybe he’ll even have some more of that Augusta magic in store.