Bubba Watson wins WGC-HSBC Champions in style

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Masters champions holes 20ft birdie putt to claim play-off win

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American Bubba Watson produced a magical finish to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and hopes his performance can inspire youngsters across China to take up the game.

Watson looked out of contention after he double bogeyed the par three 17th, but he holed a bunker shot for eagle on the last to sign for a two under par 70 and an 11 under total. South African Tim Clark matched that with a birdie at the 18th, but on the first hole of a play-off the two-time Masters Champion holed a birdie putt from 20 feet to win his first WGC title.

It’s always been one of my goals to win outside the US, so this means a lot" – Bubba Watson Graeme McDowell led after each of the first three rounds at Sheshan International in Shanghai, but he endured a difficult day, and his one over par 73 left him one shy of the play-off in a share of third place, alongside American Rickie Fowler (70) and Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata (72).

The Northern Irishman had a chance to birdie the last, but his putt from 18 feet narrowly missed. Kaymer, the 2011 champion here, also needed to pick up a shot on the par five 18th, but from the middle of the fairway he hit his approach into the water beyond the green, and a double bogey seven dropped him down to joint sixth, along with Thobjørn Olesen and Ian Poulter, who both shot 71.

Watson admitted he has now ticked off one of his career aims with a win on foreign soil and hopes it excited the Chinese crowds
 
“The shots that I hit, holing out of the bunker, me getting excited, the crowd getting excited; I think if a junior golfer is watching that here in China or around the world, that might inspire them.  You want to do that.  It’s kind of like basketball, you kind of want to hit that last game‑winning shot.

“And then to make the putt‑‑ I lost my voice so I didn’t yell on the putt.  I just kind of, you know, went crazy.  I think for a kid watching that, not knowing if it’s Bubba Watson or Clark winning, I think that they will see the excitement that the crowd had, the drama that it created and then they will be inspired that way. 

“But for my own gratification, yes, it was great for me, though, to win outside the U.S. It’s a big win for me to win outside the U.S.  I’ve always dreamed about winning at least one outside the U.S. 

“The Chinese know how to run a golf tournament.  This is a special place. HSBC, they put their stamp on it, they have run a great golf tournament and are a great sponsor for golf.”

McDowell claimed he was still proud of his efforts despite a tough final round.

“To be brutally honest, I didn’t have my A-game all week,” he said. 

“And to be in the situation I was in, leading all week, going into the last day, the golf course just got so difficult this weekend. The pins were evil at times and you really had to be on your iron play to have a chance to access them, and I didn’t play well enough. 

“The putter that was so hot early in the week kind of cooled off this weekend. But to finish tied third in this type of field, not playing my best, I have to count myself fairly fortunate. Of course I’d love to have made the play-off. I had a decent putt at the last but over‑read it a bit.  I’m disappointed but I’ll look back on it as a solid week.”

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