Weekend Wrap up - Ws for Wallace & Watson
This weekend was one for the ‘W’s’ as Matt Wallace and Bubba Watson picked up wins on the European and PGA Tours respectively. Wallace saw off the challenge of two time major champion, Martin Kaymer and others, to take home the trophy at the BMW International Open in Germany, whilst Watson put in a brilliant final round to finish three-shots clear and pick up his third Travelers Championship.
There would have been few better Sundays for the 28-year-old Englishman to claim his third European Tour title, as his success tied in nicely with those of the English football and cricket teams and the legendary, Lewis Hamilton. Wallace’s victory is no less important than any of those other, particularly in the context of the Race to Dubai and in his quest to become a top 50 player in the Official World Golf Ranking stats.
Going into the final round, Wallace sat on three under par, two shots behind a six-way tie for the lead, which included fellow Englishmen Aaron Rai and Chris Paisley as well as 2017 Portugal Masters Champion Lucas Bjerregaard. However, not put off by those ahead of him, nor the shots he would have to make up to be in with a chance, he shot a wonderful seven under par to surpass all other contenders and end on a winning score of 10-under par.
It was imperative that Wallace went low if he was to stand any chance of picking up the €333,330 winners cheque after Thorbjorn Olesen shot a course record 61 in his final round. After seemingly being completely out of it going into Sunday with a score of two over par from his first three rounds, Olesen found an eagle and nine birdies to pitch a low score to the late starters, who now had it all to do. The finish also moved the Dane up to number 66 in the world rankings, one ahead of Wallace, so it was a more than satisfactory Sunday for the recent Italian Open Champion.
Martin Kaymer saw his chances of a first victory in four years slip away on the 17th hole, when he overshot the green with a short chip and found some heavy rough. Failing to make par, meant that he had left himself just too much to do on the 18th, where he did in fact hole a nice putt for a birdie and a share of second place. Making up the three-way tie for second alongside Olesen and Kaymer was Mikko Korhonen, who has been in great form in recent weeks. The recent Shot Clock Masters Champion consistently improved over the four days, shooting his best scores over the weekend. A 69 on Saturday and 67 on Sunday put the Finnish ace in contention, but on reflection, he will surely believe that he left a few shots out there in his first two round of 71 and 72.
Bubba Watson, once again mastered TPC River Highlands to claim his third victory since 2010 at the Travelers Championship. Identically to Wallace, he shot a final round score of seven under par, to surpass those above him on the leader board including Paul Casey and JB Holmes.
The Lefty, along with the rest of the field were chasing down Casey who went into Sunday four shots clear, seemingly playing consistent golf which could well have led to a simple victory. However, in typical Watson fashion, his back nine was flawless and his approach to 18 to leave a simple birdie putt, summed up just how well he was playing. With eight birdies on the card, the American only took the outright lead for the first time after holing out on the 18th, and this piled the pressure on Casey, which in the end seemed too much to handle.
Having shot 62 on Saturday to get into such a strong position, the Englishman was unable to replicate his performance and only managed to get round in a two over par 72. It all went wrong for Casey from the 16th hole when he missed what looked like a simple par putt. Following this, he sliced his tee shot on 17 straight into the water hazard and with that went his chance of lifting the trophy.
One other interesting story from the final day was that of Stewart Cink. The well-known American went one better than Bubba in his last 18, and his eight under par round helped him jump twenty places up the leader board, into a tie for second, where he would finish the tournament. For golf fans all over, it was brilliant to see Cink’s name back near to the top of the board on Sunday.
Watson’s third win of the season has seen him move further up the Official World Golf Rankings table and he now occupies the number 12 spot, whilst he has jumped seven spots, to third in the FedEx Cup Standings. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see much more of Watson lifting trophies, this year.
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