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Bubba shows he can grind out a victory

By Tom Layman
Published on
Bubba shows he can grind out a victory

CROMWELL, Conn. -- He came. He saw. He Bubba'd.

It took a couple of tries at the 18th hole, but nonetheless Bubba Watson captured his second career victory at the Travelers Championship with a win over Paul Casey on the second sudden-death playoff hole at TPC River Highlands yesterday.

Watson squandered a 3-shot lead with three holes to go in the final round, then he knocked in an 8-footer for birdie as Casey made a mess of the second playoff hole to close out his second win this year on the PGA Tour.

This was also the place where Watson got off the schneid in 2010. This is a place of so many memories -- good and bad -- as following that first PGA win he made public his father's battle with cancer.

This time, the memories will be all about golf, as he walks away with a $1.152 million purse and the eighth PGA Tour victory of his career.

"I don't cry as much from my wins now because you know my dad passed away in 2010, so there's more to life than just having a bunch of trophies that are going to rot away at one point," said Watson, who vaulted into third in the FedEx Cup standings, behind Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. "There's a lot more important things in life, so it's a different drive."

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Casey had the best round of the day at 5-under 65 and finished in a tie with Watson at 16-under for the tournament's regulation 72 holes. Brian Harman, who was the 54-hole leader, finished a shot out of the playoff at 15-under after a 1-under final round of 69. Graham DeLaet took fourth by himself at 14-under for the week.

This thing looked closed up after Watson broke up a string of 11 pars with an eagle at the par-5, 13th hole. Watson took a 3-shot lead at 17-under when his ball dived into the hole.

Playing one group ahead, Casey canned a birdie putt to get to 15-under, just 2 strokes behind Watson.

Watson made a mess of the 17th hole with his only bogey of the day, losing a shot off his lead. Meanwhile, Casey finished birdie-birdie-par to reach 16-under and tie Watson. Two-time Masters champion Watson couldn't get up and down on the 72nd hole, which forced the playoff.

"Coming down the stretch I didn't execute," Watson said. "I didn't make the shots I needed to make. Paul Casey made the shots he needed to make."

It happens so many times that it can only be expected when one golfer has a hiccup, the other takes quick advantage when the event essentially turns into match play.

Watson is usually the one coming out on top when it goes to sudden death, as he improved to five wins in six tries in such scenarios, including the 2010 win at this venue over Scott Verplank, also in two extra holes. His only miscue in a playoff scenario was when he lost to Martin Kaymer in the 2010 PGA Championship.

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After matching with pars on the first bonus crack at No. 18, Watson drew blood when Casey missed the fairway to the right, ending up in a fairway bunker.

Casey went bunker to bunker and got a lie in the greenside bunker that he called too up. He skied the green.

That made life a lot easier for Watson, who was sitting 8 feet away for birdie.

"The one time you want something sitting down a little bit that you can kind of have a litte margin for error," Casey said. "But I'm not complaining. It's done and I could find a shot somewhere else in 72 holes."

Watson didn't need to sit around and let it last any longer as the midst dribbled down on a rainy day when he buried the birdie putt for the victory.

"I proved to myself in 2010 that I can win under pressure and in a playoff," Watson said. "I proved to myself that I could mess up 17 and still have a chance to win. So I knew that if I just kept my head down...I just kept grinding it out." 

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