Watson wins Travelers, others bring recent successes to Greenbrier
Bubba Watson had won his first PGA event at the Travelers tournament in Connecticut, and when he tees off at the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs he will be coming off a playoff victory this past Sunday in another Travelers.
Watson defeated Paul Casey, also in this year’s field at the Greenbrier, in a playoff after both players had completed the 72 holes of golf in 16 under par. It was Watson’s eighth career victory.
Others who had success at the Travelers and who will be in this week’s field are Graham DeLaet, Carl Pettersson and Jon Curran. DeLaet, a Canadian, was fourth, Pettersson fifth and Curran 10th in Connecticut last week.
Watson, a long-hitting left-hander who often wears his emotions on his sleeves, brought the Cromwell, Connecticut course to its knees with a first-round 62 that had him in the lead from beginning to end. Casey once trailed Watson by three strokes late into the final round but drew even with an eagle and birdie when Bubba had a bogey on the 17th.
But then Bubba prevailed in the playoff to come to the Greenbrier Classic as the tour’s latest winner.
Watson is one of the longest hitters off the tee among current PGA players. Since many of the world’s best will be priming for the British Open at St. Andrews in mid-July, Watson’s thundering drives may be the longest this week in White Sulphur Springs.
The $6.7 million purse and $1.206 million winner’s share have brought plenty of players to this year’s field where the champion will qualify for the British Open if not already qualified.
Those in the first ranks of the FedEx Cup standings coming to entrepreneur Jim Justice’s mostly lavish tournament are Patrick Reed, Luis Oosthuizen and Brandt Snedeker.
Angel Cabrera is the defending champion, but nobody has ever repeated the next year after winning on the Old White Course.
After Thursday and Friday rounds, the field will be cut to 70 players and ties.
Expected to challenge freshly-crowned champion Watson and the others who did well in the Travelers are Kevin Na, Steve Bowditch, Ken Duke, Cameron Tringale, George McNeill, Steve Stricker and Marc Leishman.
The Old White Course does not make the players cringe in fear of its pitfalls or water hazards.
A winning score of 20 under par or lower could be predicted if there is no rain this week that would soften the course.
Justice brings in Tiger Woods and John Daley as his personal friends. Both Woods and Daly once offered Justice $1,000 for every pound he lost off his once-gigantic 450-pound frame. At 6-foot-8, Justice is down to about 350 pounds these days.
Stricker, a soft-spoken player with no ego, is another crowd favorite who doesn’t play many tournaments any more but will be honing his game for the close-at-hand John Deere Classic, where he has won numerous times.
Justice regales the players and their families with world-class entertainment and has booked Keith Urban, the Band Perry, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert for two of the nights this year.
The Greenbrier has high hurdles to overcome because it is played over the July 4 holiday and is so close to the treasured British Open in mid-July.
Bubba Watson will be there.
And he’s the latest PGA winner on the sumptuous tour.