Even in the midst of a meltdown, Bubba Watson never lost hope Sunday in the HSBC Champions.
He stood on the 16th tee with a two-shot lead. He trudged off the 17th green facing a one-shot deficit behind five players suddenly tied for the lead. And right when it looked as though Watson had blown it, he delivered a finish that not even the creator of “Bubba golf” could have imagined.
From some 60 yards away in a bunker left of the green on the par-5 18th hole, Watson blasted out of the sand and watched his ball roll 25 feet before it dropped for eagle. Watson was so stunned that his eyes widened and he screamed. He didn’t know what else to do.
Moments later, he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th in a playoff to beat Tim Clark and capture his first World Golf Championship.
“You never know what he’s going to do,” said Rickie Fowler, who watched it all unfold at Sheshan International.
Watson closed with a 2-under 70, a score that doesn’t even begin to describe his wild ride — an eagle, birdie, par, bogey and double bogey filled his scorecard over the last five holes.
The two-time Masters champion looked like a lost cause when he stood in the bunker on the 18th in regulation, waiting his turn to play. That’s when he turned to his caddie and told him, “It’s been a miserable couple holes here, but this will change everything if it goes in.”
Talk about a Shanghai surprise.
“You always joke about holing it,” Watson said. “And then it actually went in. I didn’t know how to react and so I just kind of screamed, and I lost my voice a little bit. It was one of those shots, a one-in-a-lifetime kind of shot. And so it was pretty neat.”