It's 90 holes of birdie-filled fun, and the Bob Hope Classic is always giving us a ton o' red numbers to enjoy. This year didn't disappoint, and we hope the late Monday edition of rips and shanks doesn't either.
The Haas Boys: Twenty-two years after father Jay Haas claimed victory at the Bob Hope, son Bill closed with a final round 64 to outlast the rest of his field en route to his first career PGA Tour victory. Haas had 206-yards on the par-5 18th, and drew in a 3-iron to 30-feet, two-putting for the win that nobody else in the field could muster.
Bubba Watson's reaction after his tee shot on 11: Standing on the tee of the par-5 11th, a hole that, even I can admit is pretty much a par 4.5, you had to imagine, with it setting up for a lefty-cut, Watson was licking his chops. He came out of it early, sliced it at least 25 yards left of the fairway, and was already going for another ball. It turned out the ball was in play, to which Bubba joked, "If that ball is still in play, this hole is too wide." A definitive reaction to exactly who Bubba is.
The Champions Tour: Sure, it wasn't the PGA Tour, but the Champions provided some fine Tour-style memories nonetheless. Want the perfect recipe for a solid week on the Champions Tour? Hawaii + a Tom Watson victory + Fred Couples debut + a final round 64 + a Hale Irwin sighting + names we love to see = perfection. The battle between Watson and Couples was fantastic, and gave everyone a reason to be excited for 50-year-olds golfing again.
Monday Finishes during NFL Championship Week: Most of us might consider ourselves golf fans by trade, but we all started off sports fans. With the incredible Saints-Vikings game wrapping up last night, it was nice to have the final round a day after, giving anyone who works from home (smiles gingerly) a really great treat after a day of gridiron football.
Tim Clark's Decisions and Nerves: Matt Kuchar made a par on the 18th, and could probably be ridiculed a little, but he hit a momentum-carrying second shot long over the green, and had a tricky two-putt he failed to convert.
Clark, on the other hand, played not to lose, but lose he did. In the fairway on 18, Clark decided not to go for the green, laid up and settled for a third shot to eight feet. The always-shaky Clark missed another easy birdie putt to give himself a chance at victory (another right-to-left curler) and will be questioned throughout the week for his decision to lay-up instead of go after the simple 18th in two.
Bubba Watson's lay-up on 14: He's the longest hitter in the field, and his "happy go lucky" mentality is what makes him so likable. But when the going got tough, Bubba strayed away from his regular game. This was crystal-clear on the par-5 14th, when Watson smoked a drive down the middle, and had 231 yards to the front. Earlier in the week, Bubba hit a 2-iron 260, so it wasn't like he didn't have enough club in the bag. What did Bubba do? He laid up, failed to get that up and down, and had to settle for a disappointing, disappointing par on a hole he had to birdie.
Mike Weir's tee shot on 13: At one point, The Golf Channel put up a spot-on graphic for how little experience was at the top of the leaderboard. Kuchar was one of two people with victories on the PGA Tour. The other? Weir, who won eight times. That didn't stop the '03 Hope champion from quacking a hook into the water on 13, leading to a double and virtually zero chance of coming back to win.
Par: Make one of these, at any point in the 90-hole marathon that is the Bob Hope Classic, and expect to lose some ground to the field. The cut was 9-under, and like years past, the player's mentality was, "look at flag, hit at flag."
Next week: The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where Phil Mickelson will be making his 2010 debut.