More Than Bubba Wins at Farmers Insurance Open

Bubba Watson secured his 2nd PGA Tour win at the Farmers Insurance Open / (File Photo: Andy Lyons - Getty)
Bubba Watson secured his 2nd PGA Tour win at the Farmers Insurance Open / (File Photo: Andy Lyons - Getty)

Bubba Watson (71-65-69-67-272) may have earned his way on to the trophy at the Farmer’s Insurance Open on Sunday but it was the PGA Tour, and golf in general, that was the biggest beneficiary of the tournament.

With Tiger Woods’ on-course struggles following on the heels of his fall from grace the future of the sport that he had driven to unprecedented levels was easily in question.  Sunday showed that there is enough material for the PGA Tour to work with even if the greatest player of an era is not part of the real drama.  Watson’s victory almost immediately sent him into the top ten trending topics on Twitter, where he has found a loyal fan base and added a personal touch to how 70,000 golf aficionados interact with their hero.

Hyped early in the week as the season debut of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, only half of that pair was part of the story as the final holes played out at Torrey Pines, and even Phil only served up a sliver of the excitement.

Bubba Watson jarred a final birdie of the week to win his second PGA Tour title and his curling downhiller simply capped a series of events that likely kept most golf fans right to the very end.  That hole out proved necessary as Phil Mickelson charged with a birdie on the 17th hole and then failed to hole out a grinding attempt to hole out a 72-yard shot for a tie on the 18th.  Phil, in his usual style, did add some flair to the attempt though with a walk-up to check out the shot, caddy Jim McKay tending the pin and a strike that landed just beyond the hole but failed to spin back closer than four feet.  His conversion of that putt did secure him second place and likely put him back into the top 5 of the World Rankings.

Additional flair to the compelling tale was added by rookie Jhonnatan Vegas who rinsed his approach on the last in his attempt to reach the surface in two.  An eagle would have tied him with Watson but he had to settle for a share of third place with Dustin Johnson who also contended to the end.  The Watson, Mickelson, Vegas, and Johnson line-up made it one of the best four-way battles that did not include Tiger that has been seen for years.  It’s something that has to make Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem very happy as they look to take the weight of the PGA Tour marketing off the shoulders of a certain star that is still grinding to regain not only his game, but also his appeal to the sports’ followers.

Of course, having an extrovert with as much talent and flashy appeal as Bubba Watson come out on top never hurts.  Watson has never apologized for being an emotional player who takes on the game in his own way and that shone through in La Jolla.

Few would criticize the tears he shed after closing out the victory nor the emotional first pump that punctuated the fall of his last putt with Mickelson close on his heels.

“It means a lot,” Watson said of the win when interviewed immediately after Mickelson finished up one back to make the win official.  “Every win is special because you don’t know if you are going to have them,” he said through a waterfall of emotion.

Watson said Saturday he has worked hard on staying patient this year and that seemed to pay off on Sunday.  Even with his errant attempt to reach the final green in two landing in the bunker, he settled down and worked hard on getting up and down.  He had little choice, especially with a star-studded group nipping at his heels.

“It’s hard every time you look at it,” he said of winning on the PGA Tour with so many good players in contention.  “Any bad step and they can catch you.  I just put my head day all day and just played my game.”

With so much sizzle this week it is hard to imagine what awaits next at the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale; but with all the top players from this week in the field its sure to be another home run for the PGA Tour.

It’s a streak they’d like to continue all year long.  That might be an impossible task but with every successful week in the books the future of the Tour looks more promising than it has in a long time.

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