By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- For arguably the longest player in the game, one of golf’s shortest par-4s sure seems to give Bubba Watson fits.
For 68 holes, it looked like Watson might win the Travelers Championship for a second time in three years. Then he got to the 296-yard 15th at TPC River Highlands.
Trailing leader Charley Hoffman by three shots at the time and certainly needing a birdie, Watson’s chances for a victory sank when he fanned his tee shot left and into the water guarding the reachable par 4.
“I've hit it in the water so many times and made par so many times after hitting the water, I'm used to it,” Watson said. “So I'm good.”
Just not good enough.
By the time Watson reached the 18th hole, where there’s a plaque commemorating a monster drive from his 2010 win here, Hoffman’s lead was collapsing behind him with a double-bogey on the 17th hole.
Watson had a chance to tie for the lead with a birdie on the final hole but slid his 17-footer past the cup.
“We thought [the break] was going to come off that bunker,” Watson said.
It didn’t, and Watson finished one shot short of forcing a playoff with eventual winner Marc Leishman after Hoffman bogeyed the 18th behind Watson.
“It’s a tough hole,” Watson said of No. 15. “Obviously I’d like that swing back to have a chance for birdie.”
Two years ago, Watson won here in a playoff, shooting a final-round 66 before beating Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in extra holes.
He never got that chance Sunday.
The 15th hole is an uncomfortable distance for Watson, who hit 4-wood there all week. He made just one birdie and three pars, nearly hitting it in the water in the opening round as well.
“It really doesn't go that far, maybe to the front of the green if I hit it perfect,” Watson said of his 4-wood. “It's kind of like a lay-up anyway.
“It's tough. Bad swing here, missed a putt here, things like that. If it was the other way around it would look like I made a charge late, so it just worked out that I just came up short.”