Bubba Watson came through a playoff against Scott Verplank and US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin to win his first PGA Tour title at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
The long hitter from Florida began the final round six shots adrift of leader Justin Rose. But, after opening rounds of 64, 62 and 68, the Englishman faltered on Sunday. He dropped a shot on the front nine and retained the lead at the turn. But the 29-year-old went into meltdown over the closing holes. He found the water on the short par-4 15th and made double bogey before missing a two-foot par putt on the 16th. He closed with a 75 and finished in a tie for ninth.
“It was obviously my tournament to lose,” Rose said. “I could have shot one-over-par today and won the golf tournament. It’s disappointing. It wasn’t overly difficult today.”
Watson carded a closing round of 66 to match the score of Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank who, earlier, had completed a fantastic 64. The trio headed back to the 18th tee to settle the tournament over extra holes.
From the tee, Pavin only managed to advance the ball 219 yards, 101 yards less than Watson. It left the veteran a long shot in to the green and he was unable to find the putting surface, coming up short in a greenside bunker. Verplank played a good iron shot that ended eight feet from the cup. Watson then nearly won it with a two when his sand-wedge approach ended just an inch from the hole.
Pavin pitched expertly from the sand but par wasn’t enough so he was eliminated. Verplank courageously made his putt for three meaning he and Watson went on to the par-3 16th.
Verplank missed the green and failed to get up and down, leaving Watson with a short putt for the title. He duly knocked it in, received a hug from his wife and began to cry.
“I’m a very emotional guy, I cry all the time,” he said.
In securing his first PGA Tour title, Watson has climbed to eighth on the FedEx Cup standings, 45th on the Official World Golf Ranking and to 13th on the Ryder Cup points list.
TPC River Highlands, Connecticut
June 24-27, purse $6,000,000, par 70
1 Bubba Watson (USA) 65 68 67 66 266 $1,080,000
T2 Corey Pavin (USA) 65 66 69 66 266 $528,000
T2 Scott Verplank (USA) 67 69 66 64 266 $528,000
4 Chris Riley (USA) 68 65 69 65 267 $288,000
T5 Ricky Barnes (USA) 69 67 64 68 268 $210,750
T5 Chad Campbell (USA) 67 70 65 66 268 $210,750
T5 Retief Goosen (RSA) 68 69 64 67 268 $210,750
T5 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 64 71 69 64 268 $210,750
T9 Kris Blanks (USA) 68 67 67 67 269 $156,000
T9 Brendon de Jonge (RSA) 70 63 67 69 269 $156,000
T9 Justin Rose (Eng) 64 62 68 75 269 $156,000
T9 Vaughn Taylor (USA) 67 65 67 70 269 $156,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only