Bubba Wins as Phil’s Magic Fails
by Jeff Skinner
The Farmers Insurance Open proved to be just what we all wanted it to be. It went right down to the last hole with Phil Mickelson making the last putt. However, that last putt was just one shot too many as Phil had to settle for second place while Bubba Watson claimed his second PGA Tour win in seven months.
Bubba brought the Torrey Pines par fives to their knees as he birdied all four of them today on his way to a five under par 67. His only missed the fairway on one par five but his prodigious length off the tee allowed him to get the ball close enough to the greens to make birdies seem like a given. He had birdie putts of four feet, two feet, two inches and the most pressure packed putt of all at eighteen was a twelve footer that sealed the tournament. Watson had a simple formula for winning in Phil’s backyard. He led the tournament in driving distance and greens in regulation. If your putter is anywhere near average, and Bubba’s was better than average, that combination will put plenty of hardware in your trophy case.
Phil made an admirable charge with a key birdie at seventeen to bring him to one behind Watson. He came to eighteen realistically needing an eagle to win and hope that Watson did no better than par. When Phil’s drive sailed wide left he felt he had no shot at keeping his three wood on the green so he elected to lay up. Then Watson made an incredible up and down from the left greenside bunker for his birdie to go two up on Phil as he watched from the fairway. Phil now stood 73 yards away and needed to hole this shot for an eagle to tie. Phil wasn’t about to give up. After walking to the green to survey the situation he had Bones tend the flag. He’s a showman for sure and he was about to give his hometown crowd a little bit more theater. Bones pulled the stick as Phil’s ball flew towards the green and for a second it looked as if he may have pulled it off. He almost jarred it as the ball hit about eight inches left of the hole, pitched forward but as we waited for it to spin in the hole it stopped four feet away. Phil the magician had failed to pull off his final trick but the crowd left satisfied with a very thrilling show. Leave it to Phil for such dramatics but the truth is he almost holed his wedge for the tie. (See Phil’s near miss here.)
Bubba Watson played the best of any of the leaders on the final day. Anthony Kim, Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan had poor rounds and slipped down the leaderboard but Phil and Jhonattan Vegas gave Watson all he could handle. Playing with Watson, Vegas had a chance until he put his ball in the pond at eighteen and his hopes were drowned as his ball sank to the bottom.
Watson was emotional afterward as he spoke of his dad who he lost last year and his mom who is his biggest fan. He played championship golf and beat a championship field and the way he feels they’ll be many more championships to come.