Watson cruises to WGC – Dell Match Play victory
Austin, Texas, March 26: Bubba Watson claimed a thumping 7 and 6 victory over Kevin Kisner to win a second World Golf Championships title at the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play.
Kisner had beaten Alex Noren in a high-quality semi-final and the championship match looked set to be a tight affair but Watson won the first five holes to storm into a lead he never looked like relinquishing.
The difference was six at the turn and while Kisner got the biggest cheer of the day as he won the 11th with a lengthy putt, Watson birdied the next to complete a comprehensive victory.
Noren finished third with a 5 and 3 win over Justin Thomas, whose loss to Watson in the last four prevented him from moving to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.
The Swede now moves to fifth in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, behind leader Shubhanker Sharma, who held on to the Number One spot despite exiting the WGC – Dell Match Play at the group stage.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat moved to second place after reaching the quarter-finals in Austin, while Tyrell Hatton is in third after reaching the last 16. Tommy Fleetwood completes the top five after moving to the fourth spot.
In adding this victory to his 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions title, two-time Masters champion Watson becomes just the fifth player after Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win multiple Major Championships and WGCs.
Bubba Watson, said: “This is unbelievable. A dream come true. Obviously ending on the 12th hole makes it a lot easier than try to battle and go extra holes like he did this morning. At the beginning of the week, you don’t know what’s going to happen because golf is very difficult. So for me to stay focused, stay committed to my shots, there’s probably about four shots for the whole week that I wasn’t committed to. That’s pretty good for me.
“I know that we’re supposed to make a big deal out of Augusta and everything, but it’s a golf tournament. Everybody here, the top 64, well, top 71 or whatever they were in the world. So all those guys have a chance to win any week. I’m confident, obviously, having two wins. So if I miss the cut, I still have two wins to fall back on so far. But, yeah, when I get there, I’m going to look forward to it and hopefully I can get this focus and my putter rolling like it is.”
Alex Noren: “I’m very pleased with the way I played. It’s been a long week. There’s a lot of pressure. I feel the pressure. So I’m happy. I was very, very sad after this morning’s loss. I thought I had it. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s been a good week. I was very angry this morning after the loss because I really thought I had some great opportunities on the back nine to take the lead. But it didn’t happen. And then he rolled some good putts. I was devastated after that loss. It was one of the hardest losses probably ever for me.
“And then coming out this afternoon, it feels just kind of weird that there’s a lot to play for and I’m happy with the way I played. If somebody said at the start of the week I would be third, it would have been nice to take that. But, yeah, Justin’s a great player and I played steady today. It’s great to play against the best, especially when you beat them.
“It’s going to be nice to head to the Masters in really good form. It’s perfect for me. I gained a lot of confidence from this week. Match play is tough because you’re trying your hardest on every shot and that’s a good warm-up for a Major.
“It feels good to have a week off now and recharge my batteries and kind of see my coaches and fine tune what wasn’t going so well this week, and then work on what’s going well. I’m looking forward to the Masters.