American Bubba Watson produced two sheer moments of brilliance on the 18th hole to seal victory as he savoured a play-off triumph over South Africa’s Tim Clark at the US$8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday.
Watson looked to be heading out in disappointment at the Sheshan International Golf Club after he bogeyed 16 followed by a double-bogey five on 17.
The Major winner however holed a spectacular bunker shot for eagle to force a tie with Clark, who had finished regulation play on 11-under-par 277 total.
“Walking to 18 after making double bogey, I knew that I still had a chance. Then it was one of those 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,” said Watson.
Watson then produced another master class on his return to 18 by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt to win his first title outside the United States after Clark had left his birdie attempt short.
“It means a lot to me to win outside the U.S as that’s one of my goals for my career. To win a World Golf Championships, one of our premiere events, and again outside the U.S. is very special,” said Watson.
Clark looked in pole position to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in regulation play when he hit his third shot to four feet at the par-five 18th before closing with a three-under-par 69.
However, Watson’s amazing recovery followed by another heroic moment during the play-off meant the South African had to settle for second best.
“I never expected to be in this position at the start of the week. I fought hard and I knew I needed to birdie that playoff. I just needed to play the playoff hole better and obviously I’m disappointed to be that close,” said Clark.
Asia was meanwhile left to wait longer for another WGC-HSBC Champions champion as Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata could only finished tied for third with American Rickie Fowler and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.
“It’s still a little hard for me to swallow this as it was a tough way to finish a tournament. I had a good feeling about my game as I really had a good chance to win
“I’m upset at myself I couldn’t make the playoff. It will take some time for this to sink in but I think I can learn a lot from this,” said Iwata.
The WGC-HSBC Champions is one of four World Golf Championships sanctioned and organised by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include the WGC- Match Play, WGC-Cadillac Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Leading Scores after round 4 of the WGC – HSBC Champions being played at the par 72, 7261 Yards Sheshan International Golf Club course (am – denotes amateur):
277 – Bubba WATSON (USA) 71-67-69-70, Tim CLARK (RSA) 69-70-69-69.
(Watson defeated Clark in the first play-off hole)
278 – Rickie FOWLER (USA) 69-70-69-70, Hiroshi IWATA (JPN) 73-65-68-72, Graeme MCDOWELL (NIR) 67-67-71-73.
280 – Ian POULTER (ENG) 70-67-72-71, Thorbjorn OLESEN (DEN) 72-68-69-71, Martin KAYMER (GER) 69-72-66-73.
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, Alexander LEVY (FRA) 74-68-71-71, WU Ashun (CHN) 74-70-69-71, Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) 70-70-72-72, Chris KIRK (USA) 69-74-69-72, Jonas BLIXT (SWE) 71-68-71-74.
288 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 74-70-74-70
291 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-76-75-69