(Reuters) – Bubba Watson is back in time for a tilt at a third green jacket.
He won the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas on Sunday and stamped his name emphatically on the list of players capable of winning the U.S. Masters in two weeks’ time.
Watson ended a long week ironically with his easiest match, a lop-sided 7&6 victory over fellow American Kevin Kisner at Austin Country Club.
The result was not in doubt after Watson won six of the first seven holes against a weary Kisner en route to his second victory of the season, the 11th of his PGA Tour career
Watson, the 35th seed, said mental focus, not always his strong point, had been the key to his victory.
“To win you have to stay focused and stay committed to what you’re doing, keep battling and keep battling until they say you’re done and you won,” he said at the trophy presentation.
“I got off to a hot start and just focused on golf, committing to the shots.
“(There were) about four or five shots for the week where I wasn’t committed, where I blanked out. That’s pretty good over a hundred and something holes.”
Kisner, the 32nd seed, ran out of steam after going 19 holes in his morning semi-final against Alex Noren of Sweden.
“It was just one of those deals,” said Kisner. “I guess I need to figure out what happened this afternoon and work on that.”
Watson had time for a leisurely lunch after beating American second seed Justin Thomas 3&2 in the other morning semi-final.
After playing brilliantly for much of the week, Thomas was slightly off his game, hitting a series of shots that were surprisingly poor by his own high standards.
The result cost Thomas the world number one ranking, which compatriot Dustin Johnson continues to hold.
Noren beat Thomas 5&3 in the match for third place.
Watson, despite his victory at the Los Angeles tour stop at Riviera in February, remained out of the limelight over the ensuing month as the focus turned to the comeback of Tiger Woods, and victories by Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
But Watson will not be able to slip under the radar now as he gears up for Augusta, his game and mind back in gear after last year’s loss of form.
“Last year was a really low point in my life mentally, physically, and a couple of wins later it cheers you up and makes you feel a lot better,” he said.
“I happen to be 39 now but I’m just a kid playing golf and having fun with it.
“Somehow I keep getting trophies and I don’t know how. It’s just a dream.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris)