Shanghai: Masters champion Bubba Watson hailed the "one-in-a-lifetime" shot and a brilliant putt he pulled off on the 18th hole to seal a dramatic play-off triumph over Tim Clark at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday.
USA's Bubba Watson with his WGC-HSBC Champions trophy in Shanghai yesterday. Pic/AFP
Watson looked to have blown his chances at Sheshan International Golf Club with a bogey at 16 followed by a double-bogey on 17. The American sank a spectacular bunker shot for eagle at the last to tie with Clark, who had also finished on 11-under-par. "Walking to 18 after making double bogey, I knew that I still had a chance," said Watson.
"It was one of those shots, a one-in-a-lifetime kind of shot. I didn't know how to react and so I just kind of screamed and I lost my voice a little bit.' Watson found the same bunker with an almost identical shot in the playoff then produced a second memorable moment by sinking a slippery 25-foot downhill birdie putt to win his first title outside the United States.
"It means a lot to me to win outside the US as that's one of my goals for my career," he said. "To win a World Golf Championships, one of our premiere events, and again outside the US is very special," said Watson. Clark was left to rue what might have been after a superb closing round of four-under 69.
"I never expected to be in this position at the start of the week," he said. "I just needed to play the playoff hole better and obviously I'm disappointed to be that close," Clark added. Graeme McDowell had led for the first three days but struggled to a one-over 73 Sunday to share third place with, Japan Tour player Hiroshi Iwata and US star Rickie Fowler.
"This is a golf course I know I can win around," said the disappointed Northern Irishman who was also third a year ago. McDowell said his swing had deserted him on the final day. "Today was kind of ugly," he said. "I was battling on my swing, but still in with a shout.
"To finish third in the style I did, I'm disappointed. To finish third playing the way I did, I'm pretty happy." Watson often cuts a divisive figure with media and fans. He was relieved he didn't upset anyone this week and was delighted to have won overseas at last.
"That's really what this week was about, was hanging in there, not pouting, not getting too emotional," he said. "And today, I bogeyed the first hole but then came back with a couple of birdies. "And then I bogeyed a hole, doubled a hole and then eagled a hole and then birdied in a playoff. It's one of those things you always dream about."