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Bubba Almost 'Fixes' a Comeback Sunday
Bubba Watson knew that his golf game was leaking oil in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. After starting Sunday with a three-shot lead over the elite, 74-man field that featured the top-50 players in the world, the 33-year-old Floridian fell behind eventual winner Justin Rose with a series of misplays and errant shots that led to five bogeys.
But despite his travails, Watson kept his cool and, after pushing his tee shot into the rough of the brutal par-4 closing hole at TPC Blue Monster at Doral in Miami, he executed a beautiful 4-iron from 191 yards that stopped 10 feet short of the cup to set up a potential birdie that would have forced a sudden-death playoff with Rose.
Unfortunately, he missed the putt to drain all of the drama out of the tournament, giving Rose the title and a $1.4 million payday. But Watson noted later that he was proud of how he adjusted coming in to give himself a chance on the 72nd hole. "Knowing that I was struggling, that's the worst I've hit the ball all year," he said. "But still had a chance in the end, so I was proud of myself for fighting, not giving up, keep grinding it out, and never got down today.
"Never got mad at myself. Just tried to figure it out," he added. "I'm trying to learn the game. In a bad situation like this, I'm trying to figure out, how to correct it. Tiger (Woods) talks about fixing it on the course, back when he was dominating; he just talked about fixing it on the course, so that's what I was doing. I was just trying to talk to myself and figure it out and knowing that I came into a stretch where a birdie putt, just over nine feet to go in a playoff; so I felt good. So over the putt, all I thought about was my line and I hit my line, and we just didn't read it right."
Here's what else the long-hitting lefty and maturing player had to tell reporters Sunday evening.
MODERATOR: Bubba Watson, thanks for joining us, runner up at this year's Cadillac Championship for the World Golf Championships. Great week for you, you came up a little short, but certainly exciting especially that shot on 18. Your thoughts on the day overall.
BUBBA WATSON: Today I felt really good waking up. I felt no meshes. I was ready to go. Pulled my first tee shot, still made birdie, almost made eagle and then pulled the next shot off the tee and sliced the next one. The ball position was a little off: I was a little too close to it, too far from it. Takes a few holes to figure it out and then I had some chances on the back nine. I really fought hard and had some chances on the back nine and just didn't make some putts. But then on 18, I had 191 out of the rough, no grass behind the ball so I could make solid contact with it and hit a pure 4 iron, a low bullet 4 iron and just misread the putt. We just didn't give enough. We thought it was not going to break as much and it broke about three inches too much.
Q. Obviously the putt to tie on 18, what was going through your mind as you're standing over the putt, if you can take us through the last few minutes?
BUBBA WATSON: I was thinking that it didn't matter - it didn't matter what I did on the first few holes. This could overcome all that. Knowing that I was struggling, that's the worst I've hit the ball all year. But still had a chance in the end, so I was proud of myself for fighting, not giving up, keep grinding it out, and never got down today. Never got mad at myself. Just tried to figure it out. I'm trying to learn the game. In a bad situation like this, I'm trying to figure out, how to correct it.
Tiger talks about fixing it on the course, back when he was dominating; he just talked about fixing it on the course, so that's what I was doing. I was just trying to talk to myself and figure it out and knowing that I came into a stretch where a birdie putt, just over nine feet to go in a playoff; so I felt good. So over the putt, all I thought about was my line and I hit my line, and we just didn't read it right.
Q. What hurt more, the putt on 18, or the putt on 14, you had about 10 feet for a birdie, that could have tied things up at that point.
BUBBA WATSON: The putt on 18, because that was my last chance. I hit a great shot in there and that would have been huge for me to have a chance to be able to win. So 14, you don't think about it at the time. But you know, I had a putt on 15, 16, 17, so I played solid down the stretch. Just didn't get any putts to go in.
Q. The problem in front is ball position?
BUBBA WATSON: My thing is when I get off, or what I consider off, is always ball position, too close from it, too far from it, too far forward, too far back. I like to move the ball a lot so my ball position changes about every 30 seconds. So for me I was trying to find it in my driver. First hole I pulled it but a little bit, but not bad, made birdie. Hit 3 iron off the second tee, I pulled it a little bit. And then I sliced it on 3; sliced it on 5. And I found it a little bit on - I started finding it on 6. That's where I hit quality shots from pretty much then on.
Q. You started the day three up and then you walk off the seventh green 2 down. Just run through what you're thinking at that point?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm thinking I'm not playing very good. You know, you don't really think about - I'm not thinking about numbers. I'm not thinking about winning or losing. I'm just thinking about playing better golf. I was 2 over I think. I parred the last few holes on the front and then I three putted 9. 9 really hurt me, because I thought I hit a quality golf shot, but it went 20 yards too far. Tough two-putt and I three-putted. But no, I never thought about how many back I was. I just thought if I just make some birdies, nobody is going to go too far. If I can get it back to 17 under, I would be even par for the day and I knew that would be a good number, and obviously it would be a great number.
Q. At what point did you find out exactly where your ball position needed to be, and what was the adjustment?
BUBBA WATSON: I was too close, first couple holes. Then on No. 3, I was too far away, so I blocked it. Kind of the same thing I did on 4 when I hit it in the bunker. 5, the same thing, and then 6, you know, I changed - I scooted up a little bit closer. Hit the second shot good on 6. Got too close again on 7 and pulled it off that tee. 8, still just really close there, and then 9, I hit a really good shot. When I saw that I was still in it, nobody was running away from it, because I hit a good iron shot into 8 and then I hit a great shot into 9. The 3 putt on 9 was probably the one that hurt me the most all day.
MODERATOR: Bubba Watson thank you very much for your time.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.