Stats & Info: Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson does it again

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13

David Cannon/Getty ImagesBubba Watson was in command of his swing all weekend.
Two out of three wasn’t bad for Bubba Watson, who won the Masters on Sunday, edging out Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt.

Watson is the ninth player in Masters history to win twice in a three-year span. He became the third player since 2000 to win two Masters in a three-year stretch, joining Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Watson is the third player in the last five years to win multiple majors, along with Mickelson and Rory McIlroy

Watson and Mickelson are the only left-handed golfers to win multiple major championships.

This was Watson’s sixth start in a Masters, tying him with Jimmy Demaret and Arnold Palmer for the second-fewest needed for multiple Masters wins. Only Horton Smith (three starts) needed fewer.

Watson shot a final-round 69. Both times Watson broke par in the final round at the Masters, he won the tournament. Twenty-two of the past 23 champions have broken par in the final round, all except Trevor Immelman in 2008.

How Watson won
Watson fared the same on par-5s at this Masters as he did when he won two years ago -- eight shots under par, which also happened to be his winning score this year.

Watson also limited his bogeys. His nine this year matched his 2012 total.

After needing 33 putts in Saturday's third round (he shot 74), Watson needed only 25 putts on Sunday (69) and didn't have a three-putt.

His 25 putts were tied for third-fewest in the field on Sunday.

The runners-up
Spieth came up three shots short in his bid to become the youngest Masters winner, though he is the youngest in Masters history to finish runner-up or tied for second. Spieth played the last 11 holes on Sunday at 3-over.

Blixt became the first golfer to play under par in each of his first four career rounds at the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller did so in his 1979 victory. Blixt joined Jesper Parnevik, Henrik Stenson and Niclas Fasth as Swedish golfers to finish as runners-up in majors.
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesBubba Watson will try to become the rare repeat Masters winner.
With three wins this year, Tiger Woods has regained the No. 1 ranking in the world and dominated the headlines entering the Masters. But 18 majors have been played since Woods last won one, so let’s examine the “Front Nine” and key storylines surrounding other players with a chance to put on the Green Jacket Sunday afternoon.

Don’t Expect Bubba Watson to Repeat
Only three players have repeated as Masters champion and the list reads of golf royalty – Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus.

In fact, each of the last six Masters champions has finished outside the Top 15 each the following year. Considering Watson has just three Top 10s in 20 majors, don’t be surprised to see this trend continue.

The fall – and rise? – of McIlroy
Following a highly publicized equipment switch this season, McIlroy’s game was a work in progress to being the season.

In 2012, McIlroy had five Top-3 finishes and a scoring average of 68.3 entering the Masters. Over his first five events, he did not post a Top-3 finish and his scoring average was nearly three strokes worse than 2012. That was until a runner-up finish in the Valero Texas Open where McIlroy led the field in greens-in-regulation and shot a final round 66.

While McIlroy's game appears to be rounding into form, McIlroy too has had his problems on the weekend at Augusta, putting up Saturday-Sunday scores of 150 and 153 the last two years.

Phil Mickelson looks to equal Arnie and Tiger
Phil Mickelson has his own chase with history going. Mickelson is looking for his fourth Masters title, which is the same number Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have.

Since 2001, Mickelson has three wins and nine Top-5 finishes at Augusta, which is the same number of wins and one more Top-5 finish than Woods has in that span.

Mickelson’s biggest problem lately? Getting off to a good start.

In his last 11 majors, Mickelson has been over par after the first round in nine of them. His average position on the leaderboard after Round One—62nd.

Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker
The two are linked by near misses both at Augusta and last year at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

Snedeker led after 36 holes, while Scott led by four on the back nine before his historic collapse. But their time is coming.

Scott made the cut in all four majors last year and had the best cumulative score of those players which did. He’s been in the Top 15 in six of the last eight majors and leads the TOUR in par 5 birdie-or-better percentage, an all important stat at Augusta.

If Snedeker is healthy, he also could capture his first major. In his last 16 events, Snedeker has a better scoring average and the same number of Top-5 finishes than Tiger Woods does in that stretch.

If you have won, forget about winning. And if you win, forget about winning
Each of the last six Masters winners did not have a win prior to the Masters the year they won the event. And for the last five Masters champions, it has been a struggle since.

The last five Masters champions have combined for three wins (all by Phil Mickelson) in 327 events since their Masters win.

The last Masters winner not named Mickelson to have a win since capturing the Green Jacket? 2007 winner Zach Johnson.

English Lesson
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are among the top players in the world, but each is seeking his first major victory. And they couldn’t be any more opposite in their pursuit and shortcoming.

Donald has been a very poor starter in majors, as just five of his last 44 rounds on Thursday and Friday have been under par (31 have been over par). As a result, not surprisingly, Donald has missed the cut or finished outside the Top 20 in 26 of his 38 majors.

Westwood on the other hand has 7 Top 3 finishes in majors since 2008, which is the most by any player in history without a major title. Westwood led the Masters after the first round last year, but given he is 115th in strokes gained putting this year, his putter again could be his undoing.

Greens, Greens and more Greens
If there is one stat which has been the biggest harbinger of Masters success lately, it has been greens in regulation.

Ten of the last 13 Masters champions have been in the Top 4 in GIR for the tournament. And the three which were not – Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera and Mike Weir – were each in the Top 12 in putting.

Some notable names atop the GIR ranking this year include 2012 winner Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker.

Someone new again?
The last 17 majors have been won by 16 different players – only Rory McIlroy has two in that span. And nine of the last eleven major winners were first-time major winners.

Also interesting, since 2009, three players ranked inside the Top 10 have won a major and three players outside the Top 100 have won a major.

Runner-up Need Not Apply
Like Louis Oosthuizen’s chances after losing in a playoff last year?

After reading this, your hopes may be tempered some.

Just once in the last 40 years has someone won the Masters the year after finishing second. That was Ben Crenshaw in 1984. Before that? Jack Nicklaus in 1972.

So while Oosthuizen’s game stamps him as a contender. History says otherwise.

Woods rolls, Mickelson and Watson falter

June, 14, 2012

Harry How/Getty ImagesWoods broke par in the 1st Round at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2002.
The premier group of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson certainly provided varied results in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club. While Mickelson and Masters champion Watson struggled mightily, Woods cruised to a 1-under 69.

In 17 U.S. Open events, Woods has now finished under par four times in the 1st Round, but Thursday marked the first time since 2002 that he has accomplished that feat. Woods has never finished worse than third in the previous three occasions, and what's more, has gone on to win twice.

Woods is a 3-time U.S. Open champion, and with his next win will tie Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson for the most U.S. Open wins.

It was a completely different story for Watson, however, as he carded eight holes of bogey or worse en route to a 78. That nearly matches the worst 1st Round at a U.S. Open by the reigning Masters champion, which is held by Ben Crenshaw (80 in 1984).

It wasn't a huge surprise, as Watson had never faired well in the 1st Round in five previous U.S. Open appearances. Entering today, he had never had a 1st Round under par and was +11 overall.

As for Mickelson, his 1st Round was not much better. He tied his career worst 1st Round at the U.S. Open by carding a 76, and began a major with three scores worse than par for the first time as a professional.

Mickelson and Watson may want to play with someone different Friday. In his last two competitive rounds, Woods has watched playing partner Rickie Fowler shoot 84 (+12) in the Final Round of the Memorial Tournament and now Watson and Mickelson combine to shoot +14 today.

Woods and Mickelson all square together

June, 12, 2012

Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesTiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been very even in their history when paired together.
Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Masters champion Bubba Watson will play together in the 1st and 2nd rounds of this week’s U.S. Open (ESPN), and will certainly be the pairing to watch in the early stages. The trio will tee off at 10:33 ET Thursday and 4:18 ET Friday, the ninth time Woods and Mickelson will play together in a major. The last time the two played the 1st and 2nd rounds together in a major was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which was won by Woods.

Overall these two have been very even when playing together. Woods and Mickelson have been paired together 30 times in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, and their scoring averages have been nearly identical (Mickelson at 69.97, Woods at 69.53). Woods has posted the better score in 13 of 30 rounds, the same total as Mickelson (same score in four of 30 rounds).

Lately, however, Woods has not faired well when paired with Mickelson. Since 2007, Woods and Mickelson have played 12 rounds together, and Mickelson has had a better score in eight of the 12. In that span, his scoring average is 69.08, while Woods' is 70.16. In fact, Woods has not broken 70 in any of the last six rounds.

The last time Woods and Mickelson played together was the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Woods shot a 3-over 75, while Mickelson shot a near-flawless 64 and won the tournament. Woods lost 4.41 strokes on the green that day, missing seven putts under 10 feet, while Mickelson gained 4.56 strokes, making all 14 putts of 10 feet or less.

As for Watson, 15 different players have won both the U.S. Open and Masters in their career, but no player has done it in the same season since Woods in 2002. Before that, the last player to accomplish the feat was Jack Nicklaus back in 1972. The good news for Watson is that seven of the last 10 Masters champions have finished among the top 10 in the U.S. Open that same year.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

Bubba Watson
1. BUBBA WATSON IS MASTERFUL: Bubba Watson defeats Louis Oosthuizen in the second playoff hole to win the Masters Tournament and his first major championship. It was the first time since 2009 and the 15th time overall that a playoff decided the Masters. Watson becomes the 14th different winner in the last 14 majors and the second straight American winner. He moves into fourth in the new Official World Golf Ranking. Watson won the tournament despite not being in the final pairing. It’s the second-straight year that the winner did not come from the final pairing. Prior to last year, the winner came from the final pairing in 19 of 20 years.

2. MELO IS CLUTCH: Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 43 points, making the game-tying three-point FG in regulation and the game-winning three-point FG in OT as the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 100-99. FROM ELIAS: He is the fifth player in the last five seasons, and the first since Dirk Nowitzki in 2009 to make a game-tying shot in the last 15 seconds in regulation, then make the game-winning shot in the last 15 seconds in OT. Anthony has gone 24-52 from the field in game-tying or go-ahead situations in the last 15 seconds of fourth quarter/OT over the last 10 seasons. Among players that have taken at least 20 field goal attempts over that span, Anthony ranks first in field goal percentage (46.2). His 24 field goals are second to Kobe Bryant who has 26 (26-86, 30.2 FG pct for Bryant).

3. TIGERS USE RARE COMEBACK TO SWEEP RED SOX: Miguel Cabrera hit a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning and Alex Avila hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 11th inning to give the Detroit Tigers a 13-12 win over the Boston Red Sox to complete the three-game sweep. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time that the Red Sox have ever lost a game in which they held multiple-run leads twice in the ninth inning or later and it's the second time that the Tigers have won a game in this fashion, the first since September 28, 1929 against the Chicago White Sox.

4. YANKEES & RED SOX IN UNFAMILIAR PLACE: Jeremy Hellickson pitched 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 3-0. The Yankees join the Red Sox with an 0-3 start. It’s the second time that they’ve both started a season 0-3. The other instance was in 1966 when the Red Sox started 0-5 and the Yankees started 0-3. That season, the Red Sox finished 72-90 while the Yankees finished 70-89.

5. MUCH ANTICIPATED MLB DEBUT: Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish will make his MLB Regular Season Debut Monday. Darvish will face the Seattle Mariners and likely face fellow Japanese superstar Ichiro in the first inning. Darvish was 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in 7 seasons in Japan.
AP Photo/David J. PhillipBubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen to win his first major championship.
Bubba Watson shot four-under par in the fourth round before beating Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole to win his first major championship.

This was the 15th playoff in Masters history, and the ninth that was decided by sudden death. Angel Cabrera beat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in the most recent playoff in 2009.

Watson is the 14th different champion in the last 14 majors. The last eight of those winners, and 11 of the last 12, have been first-time major winners. Phil Mickelson's win at the 2010 Masters was the lone exception.

Before 2003, no left-handed golfer had won the Masters. With Watson’s win, southpaws have won five of the last 10 Masters. Mike Weir won in 2003, and Mickelson has put on the green jacket three times.

Watson did all of his damage on the last six holes. In his four rounds, he was 10-under on holes 13 through 18 and even par on the rest of the course.

Oosthuizen had the most dramatic shot of the day, a double-eagle on the second hole. It was the fourth albatross in Masters history. With Oosthuizen’s playoff loss, Gene Sarazen is the only player with a double-eagle to win the same year.

Mickelson was unable to pick up his fourth green jacket, but he did finish in the top-3 for the eighth time. That moves him into a tie with Sam Snead for the second-most top-3 finishes in Masters history, trailing just Jack Nicklaus with 12.

The biggest mover on Sunday was Bo Van Pelt, who shot a 64 to finish at one-under par. Van Pelt shot an ace on the 16th hole on his way to recording the sixth final-round 64 at the Masters.

Van Pelt wasn’t the only player with a hole in one on Sunday. Ten groups later, Adam Scott also recorded an ace on the 16th.

Pre-tournament favorites Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggled over the weekend and finished in a tie for 40th at five-over par.

McIlroy followed up a 77 on Saturday with a 76 in the final round. In 14 career rounds at the Masters, he has finished four-over par or worse four times. That compares to only three rounds in the 60s.

Woods’ finish was his worst as a professional in 16 Masters appearances. He finished at five-over and tied for 41st as an amateur in 1995, but his worst previous 72-hole score as a professional was three-over par. That was good for a second-place tie in 2007, as Zach Johnson won shooting one-over for the tournament.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty ImagesPeter Hanson finds himself in an usual position heading into the final round of the Masters, leading a major after 54 holes for the first time.
Moving day at the Masters saw plenty of shuffling on the leaderboard, as the best rounds were shot by those outside the final three pairings.

Seven players entered the third round within one stroke of the lead. Of that group, only two golfers broke par on Saturday. Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson shot 3-under par and will be paired together in the second to last group on Sunday.

The eventual Masters champion has come out of the final Sunday pairing 19 out of the last 21 years, but both exceptions came in the last five events. Last year’s champion Charl Schwartzel was tied for second but played in the penultimate group, and Zach Johnson was tied for fourth in 2007.

Only one Masters champion has come from outside the top-10 on the leaderboard after 54 holes. Art Wall Jr. was six strokes back and tied for 13th heading into the final round before winning the title in 1959.

This year’s PGA TOUR has seen several large comebacks on Sunday. Four different golfers have come from at least six shots down in the final round to win a title.

The last 13 majors have been won by 13 different players. Also in that span, the last seven and 10 of the last 11 champions have been first-time major winners. Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters was the only exception.

Sunday’s final pairing
The final pairing on Sunday will be Peter Hanson and Mickelson.

Before finishing with the third-round lead, Hanson had never been within five shots of the lead entering the final round of a major. In the first three rounds, he leads the field with 18 birdies.

Hanson recorded the ninth score of 65 of better in the Masters third round over the last 40 years. Only two of the previous eight instances led to a title. Tiger Woods won at Augusta in 1997 and 2005 after shooting seven-under in the third round.

After shooting nine straight pars to start the round, Mickelson was six-under on the back nine. His 66 on Saturday was his first career round of six-under or better on the weekend in a major.

With a win, Mickelson can match Woods and Arnold Palmer with his fourth green jacket. Only Jack Nicklaus, with six, would have more.

Mickelson and Woods have been identical statistically this week, with one major exception. Woods has needed 10 more putts to complete his rounds.

Chip shots
Louis Oosthuizen: looking to become the sixth player to win the Masters and Open Championship at St. Andrew’s

Matt Kuchar: within five shots of the lead entering the final round of a major for the first time

Sergio Garcia: after shooting a 75 on Saturday, hasn’t broken par in the third round of the Masters since 2002

Rory McIlroy: his 77 on Saturday was the third time in 13 career rounds at the Masters that he shot five-over or worse

Tiger Woods: failed to birdie a par-5 the last two rounds after only failing to birdie twice in his first 61 rounds at the Masters as a professional