Watson holds off Simpson to win Zurich playoff
AVONDALE, La. — Bubba Watson won the Zurich Classic on Sunday for his second PGA Tour victory of the year and third overall, holing a 3-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Webb Simpson.
After his 329-yard drive narrowly stayed out of the water and landed in a fairway bunker, Watson hit his second shot 210 yards to the green on the 568-yard, par-5 18th. Simpson’s second shot landed in a bunker short of the green, and he blasted out to 12 feet.
After Simpson narrowly missed his birdie putt, Watson holed out for the victory.
Watson, also the winner at Torrey Pines in late January, matched Simpson with a 3-under 69 to finish at 15-under 273 at TPC Louisiana. Both players birdied the 18th on the first extra hole.
Watson earned $1,152,000 and jumped from No. 16 to No. 10 in the world.
Here are five other things you need to know after a wild final round in New Orleans.
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1. Tangled Webb: Webb Simpson keeps inching closer to his first Tour title. A runner-up for the second time this season – he also fell one stroke shy of tying Gary Woodland at the Transitions – Simpson made bogey on the 15th hole after calling a one-stroke penalty on himself when his ball oscillated on the green. He was leading by one stroke at the time.
“You get greens like this that are burned out, balls are going to move all over the place,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Simpson made birdie on the first playoff hole, after putting his second shot on the par-5 finishing hole over the green. On the second extra hole, he couldn’t get up-and-down out of a greenside bunker and settled for par.
Afterward, however, the talk focused on the ruling on 15 green.
“You have to call it on yourself in that situation,” he said. “But it stinks that the tournament might have been decided by a rule that’s borderline a good rule. I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll learn from it and hopefully have another chance next week.”
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2. Dialed-in Donald: With a birdie on No. 18, Luke Donald earned his sixth consecutive top-10 finish, with his past four results at 10 under or better. Coming into the week, Donald was first in putting average at 1.690, ninth in birdie average at 4.33 per round, first in scoring average at 68.97 and second in the FedEx Cup standings. Donald is also first on par-5 birdies at 60.34 percent. Surprisingly, Donald sits at 3 over on par 4s for the season, but his 31 under par on par 5s has kept him at the top of the leaderboard.
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3. Oh, Choi! K.J. Choi seems ready to break through with a victory after recording his third consecutive top 10 of the season and fourth of the season. Choi finished T-6 at Bay H ill and T-8 at the Masters. His short game is the key to his recent success, ranking 11th in scrambling from within 30 yards, as well as fourth in sand saves at 66.04 percent. Choi has also been carrying three to four hybrids in his bag and has surged to 14th on Tour on shots from 125-150 yards and 15th on shots from 50-125 yards.
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4. Gainey ground: Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey picked up his fourth top 10 of the season, after only one in the previous four years on Tour (a runner-up at the Children’s Miracle Classic in 2008). It was his second consecutive top 10, with a third-place finish last week at The Heritage. Gainey is in the top 40 of only three major statistical categories:
• 19th in driving distance (294.9 yards)
• 33rd in greens in regulation (67.92 percent)
• 39th in scoring average (70.64).
Gainey is accustomed to success, with two victories on the Nationwide Tour in 2010, and is one of four players to eclipse $400,000 in 2010 earnings.
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5. Late charge: Jason Dufner made a big move with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to propel himself into the top 10. Dufner has had a solid season to date, losing in a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February and a T-14 at the Heritage last week in South Carolina. Dufner has made the cut in nine of his 10 events.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.