European Tour

Bubba pips Clark in Shanghai

2014-11-09 11:10
Bubba Watson (AFP)

Shanghai - Masters winner Bubba Watson has roared back to beat Tim Clark in a playoff on Sunday after seemingly blowing his chances down the back nine of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Watson punched the air after holing an outrageous 20-yard bunker shot for eagle at the 18th to get into a playoff with South Africa's Clark at 11-under.

The left-hander then rolled in a lightning quick 25-foot putt down a slope on the same hole for the winning birdie, sparking wild celebrations for his first World Golf Championships event win and his first victory of any kind outside the United States.

Leading at 12-under par with three holes to play, Watson had seemingly imploded with a bogey followed by a double-bogey at the 16th and 17th to fall to nine under.

At that point five players were a shot ahead of him, until his magic from the sand saw him finish 11-under for the tournament.

"I told my caddie walking into the bunker on 18, 'It's been a miserable couple holes here. But this will change everything if this goes in'," Watson told reporters after.

"He says, 'This is how legends are made.' And it actually went in. And I didn't know what to do. So I just yelled."

Clark, playing alongside Watson, then holed out for birdie from six feet at 18 to also get to 11 under as Rickie Fowler's chance disappeared into the greenside water.

The final group, comprising overnight leader Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Japan's Hiroshi Iwata, then all failed to get the birdie they needed to join the shootout.

Watson had started the day two shots behind long-time leader McDowell at nine-under and got off to a shaky start with a bogey five at the first.

He repaired the damage with two birdies in the next three holes but dropped another at the fifth.

McDowell's putter had been slick all week but his touch deserted him early on Sunday with missed birdie chances at the second and third holes.

It never came back for the Northern Irishman as he finished with a one-over 73, his worst round of the week for a share of third.

"The putter that was so hot early in the week kind of cooled off this weekend," McDowell told AFP. "Of course I would have loved to have been going out in that playoff. Disappointed."

Watson turned up the heat in the front nine with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth to lead at the turn by one from McDowell and Kaymer.

Watson put his drive into the water at 13 and dropped a shot to slip back alongside McDowell, one ahead now of Kaymer who dropped a shot at the 11th after finding sand twice.

Fowler joined the German on 10-under moments later but both then dropped shots on their next holes to fall back.

Watson birdied the par-five 14th from 15 feet to put himself alone in front. Iwata, who was hanging on grimly after a two-over par outward half, finally nailed his first birdie at the 11th and clawed his way back into contention with a fine back nine before Watson's stunning finish.

"I had already lost my voice after the bunker shot so when the putt went in, I just kind of cheered without making a lot of noise," said Watson.

Leading scores Sunday after the final round of the $8.5 million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai (par 72):

277 - *Bubba Watson (USA) 71-67-69-70, Tim Clark (RSA) 69-70-69-69
*Watson won at first playoff hole

278 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 67-67-71-73, Hiroshi Iwata (JPN) 73-65-68-72, Rickie Fowler (USA) 69-70-69-70
280 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 69-72-66-73, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 72-68-69-71, Ian Poulter (ENG) 70-67-72-71
281 - Marc Leishman (AUS) 72-71-69-69
282 - Jason Dufner (USA) 72-70-72-68, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 69-74-69-70
283 - George Coetzee (RSA) 72-73-69-69, Adam Scott (AUS) 70-72-71-70
284 - Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 75-72-69-68, Jonas Blixt (SWE) 71-68-71-74, Chris Kirk (USA) 69-74-69-72, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-70-72-72, Wu Ashun (CHN) 74-70-69-71, Alexander Levy (FRA) 74-68-71-71
285 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 70-73-69-73, Kevin Na (USA) 71-68-79-67


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