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Quick 9: Bubba Watson backlash simply unfounded

Bubba Watson, in the field this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, heard it from the crowd last week at TPC Scottsdale when he shared his opinions publicly about recent course changes. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1. Bubba talk

Bubba Watson can be his own worst enemy, as several examples over the years have shown. The latest came last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where Watson created a bit of a mess for himself by declaring he was only at TPC Scottsdale because of his sponsors.

Watson said he would not be "PC'' about it and said he didn't like the course despite never having shot a round over par and finishing tied for second in each of the previous two years.

Undoubtedly it was an odd thing to say, and Watson later apologized, saying he didn't choose the right words.

And that would be correct.

But dive into what he said to give his initial comments some context.

"I didn't see any reason to change it,'' he said of the course that architect Tom Weiskopf had made alterations to before the 2015 event. "They didn't ask me. It's just my own opinion. I didn't see any reason to change it.''

Watson then offered a few examples to make his point and said, "it just seems like all they did is just tightened up. Scores didn't change. It just makes it goofier and tougher, which is not fun for us. We came here for a reason. We came here because we want to play golf and shoot low scores. Five hundred thousand people show up here. I didn't see there is a reason to change something that's not broke.''

One might argue that nobody ever said it had to be fun or that challenging long hitters might have been part of Weiskopf's intent. But what Watson said -- when asked to clarify -- is a completely logical and acceptable opinion, for which he should get no grief.

Phil Mickelson said it has changed "from an offensive course to a defensive course."

Watson went on to acknowledge that long hitters like him have fared well. Not everyone liked the changes Weiskopf made, and player opinions on golf courses -- whether they like them or not -- should be welcomed.

But Watson, who is playing this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the first time, got ripped mostly on reputation.

2. The second-guessing game

Rickie Fowler had a two-shot lead with two holes to play at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and let slip a great chance to add a second victory in three weeks while also opening up the door to the questioning of his strategy. That he hit his tee shot into the water at the drivable par-4 17th -- while Hideki Matsuyama birdied the hole to tie him -- is at the crux of discussion.

Fowler also hit his ball in that water during a four-hole playoff and has now found that hazard nine times in his career. But the tee shot in regulation was hit pure and straight; it simply was hit too well -- and went over the green and into the water.

It is easy to say now that he should have laid up off the tee, wedged onto the green, taken his two putts and gone to the 18th -- even if that meant he would just be one stroke ahead. But the bottom line is, had he done so, he'd have won the tournament.

During the playoff, Fowler hit a 3-wood off the tee and simply hit a poor shot. That happens. He hit what appeared to be a great shot in regulation and got burned. And yet, had he played safe, water would have never been an issue.

3. Talking about slow play

Hideki Matsuyama has proved to be one of the game's excellent young players. His win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open only solidified his standing. And he's among just three players 25 or younger with multiple victories on the PGA Tour -- Jordan Spieth (8) and Patrick Reed (4) being the others. Matsuyama now has two PGA Tour wins.

But if you watched him over the weekend, it was impossible not to notice his glacial pace -- both over putts and when addressing the ball. The PGA Tour doesn't have a "monitoring policy'' like the one recently implemented by the European Tour, but if it did, Matsuyama -- and others -- would be a prime candidate for a violation.

4. Don't try this at home

Nicolas Colsaerts apparently had some fun recently -- hitting a shot through a hotel sliding glass door.

5. Rory in Dubai

The United Arab Emirates -- and Dubai in particular -- is like a second home to Rory McIlroy. He spent the better part of a month there, playing in two European Tour events, with some time to work on his game in between. He failed to defend his title at the Dubai Desert Classic but made a furious Friday rally to make the cut and then managed a top-10 finish. It is interesting to note that when play concluded after the second round, McIlroy was out of the top 10 for the first time after any round at that tournament since 2009.

Now it's back to America, where McIlroy makes his U.S. debut next week at the Northern Trust Open. It is the start of a busy stretch that will see McIlroy play five of the next six weeks before taking a week break ahead of the Masters. This week he committed to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

6. Tiger and the Hall of Fame

Tiger Woods' recent 40th birthday means he is now eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame, which will have its next induction in 2017. As GolfDigest.com pointed out, Woods would be eligible for the Hall even if just his wins in one of four states -- California, Illinois, Georgia and Florida -- were considered.

When the Hall revamped its criteria in 2014, it stated that a player must have a minimum of 15 International Federation of PGA Tours victories or a minimum of two major championship titles or two Players Championship titles to be considered.

With 14 majors and 79 wins, Woods will have no trouble getting into the Hall.

But as Golf Digest pointed out, he'd also have a fair argument based on his record taken alone in those four states. He has 14 wins in California, including two majors; he has seven wins in Georgia, including four majors. He has 16 wins in Florida, including two Players Championships; and he has seven wins in Illinois, including two majors. He's a bit short in Ohio, where he has only 13 victories, seven at the Bridgestone and five at the Memorial.

7. Bryson DeChambeau's internship

Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion, has made the most of his five professional starts, having made all his cuts and tying for 18th in Dubai. He'll play the Arnold Palmer Invitational -- a perk of his U.S. Amateur victory -- before the Masters.

8. A gem for U.S. Women's Senior Open

It was a pleasant surprise when Chicago Golf Club was named as the site for the inaugural U.S. Women's Senior Open in 2018, a new event for the United States Golf Association. The club in Wheaton, Illinois, is deemed to be the oldest 18-hole venue in the U.S. and one of the five founding clubs of the USGA. Chicago Golf Club hosted three U.S. Opens, but the last came in 1911. It has shied away from publicity and tournament golf, last hosting the 2005 Walker Cup. Also in 2018, the Old Course at St. Andrews will host the Senior Open for the first time.

9. No explanation needed