Bubba Watson wins Travelers Championship for third PGA Tour victory of the year

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Bubba Watson shot 63 in the final round to claim the Travelers Championship.

Bubba Watson shot a final round of 63 to win the Travelers Championship by three strokes.

The American Ryder Cup hopeful and two-time Masters Champion carded eight birdies and only one bogey to finish clear of a group of four players, including overnight leader Paul Casey.

The Englishman went into Sunday with a four-shot lead and an opening birdie strengthened his position further, but that was as good as it got as three bogeys saw him finish in a share of second with Americans Stewart Cink, JB Holmes and Beau Hossler.

Watson told Sky Sports Golf: “It was a fun round of golf and I got lucky that he (Casey) didn’t have his best stuff today.”

The left-hander’s third win of 2018 confirms his impressive form ahead of next month’s Open at Carnoustie and he also took the opportunity to send a message to his country’s Ryder Cup captain.

“I’m looking forward to (the Open) and I’m hoping Jim Furyk’s going to text and says, ‘You’re guaranteed for the Ryder Cup’ – still waiting on that text!” he said.

“It’s one of those years where you want it to keep going, you just don’t want it to end.”

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Paul Casey takes four-stroke lead at Travelers Championship with lowest career round on PGA Tour

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Paul Casey dazzled in the third round of the Travelers Championship.

England’s Paul Casey holds a four-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Travelers Championship after shooting a brilliant 62, his lowest career round on the PGA Tour.

The highlight of the 40-year-old’s round was an eagle after driving the 273-yard par-four 15th at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, but a further six birdies took him to 16 under, well clear of second-placed American Russell Henley.

“That’s something I rarely see from me, 18 greens in regulation, so whatever he (swing coach Peter Kostis) told me worked,” said Casey in his post-round interview.

Casey, who won the Valspar Championship in March, has world number nine Jason Day and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson six shots behind.

“I put a little bit more pressure on my short game to step up,” Day said. “It has been a pretty good week with the short game. I’m chipping really nice.”

He added: “If you get away 2-under on the front side tomorrow and can get something going from 11 on, 13, 15 and one out of the last three, that’s where you can start pushing. You can put a lot of pressure on the guys in front.”

Casey’s potential Ryder Cup team-mate, Rory McIlroy, appears too far back to challenge.

A second successive 69 for the Northern Irishman was well off the pace, with most of his rivals scoring in the mid to low 60s, and at eight under the four-time major champion has probably left himself too much to do.

He too eagled the 15th, chipping in from the front of the green, but a bogey at the last – his third of the day after two earlier birdies – was a disappointing way to end.

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Phil Mickelson tries to move on from putting controversy at US Open

Phil Casey 17/06/2018
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Phil Mickelson shot 69 in the final round at the US Open.

A day after telling his critics to “toughen up”, Phil Mickelson was far less forthcoming about the controversy surrounding his two-shot penalty in the third round of the US Open.

After completing a final round of 69 at Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson declined to speak at any length to reporters afterwards, signing autographs for around 40 minutes before heading to the locker room.

Asked while he walked if he had any regrets about the incident on Saturday, he replied: “I think the real question is what am I going to do next. I don’t know.”

During a third round which saw firm, fast conditions and some questionable pin positions send scores soaring, Mickelson admitted he deliberately hit a moving ball to gain an advantage.

The five-time major winner, who was already four over par for the day on his 48th birthday, badly overhit a putt on the 13th green which was set to roll off the putting surface.

However, he prevented that happening by running after the ball and hitting it while it was still rolling, a breach of rule 14-5 which incurs a two-shot penalty.

A number of fellow professionals felt Mickelson should have been disqualified or withdrawn himself, but he took his place in the field for the final round and covered the front nine in three under par before dropping a shot on the 11th.

Returning to the scene of the ‘crime’, Mickelson made par on the 13th for a six-shot improvement from round three before raising his arms in mock triumph.

His many fans lapped it up but it will not have gone down well with his critics, with former US PGA champion Steve Elkington among those calling for Mickelson to be disqualified and accusing him of “trying to embarrass the USGA”.

David Fay said on Fox Sports he would have “lobbied for disqualification” if a similar incident had occurred while he was executive director of the USGA, adding: “I think the current language of [rule] 14-5 is too friendly.”

Asked why Rule 1-2, which covers a ball being “influenced or deflected” and can lead to disqualification for a “serious breach” was not invoked instead, John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, said: “Phil didn’t purposely deflect or stop the ball, which is talked about in the reference under Rule 14-5. He played a moving ball.”

USGA chief executive Mike Davis later revealed that Mickelson had telephoned him to clarify whether or not he should have been disqualified.

Davis said: “Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates because he didn’t want to… frankly, as he said to me, he goes, ‘Mike, I don’t want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified’.

“That’s where we clarified that, ‘Phil, you actually made a stroke at a moving ball, and so we have to apply that rule (14-5)’.

“That’s different than if he had deliberately just stopped the ball or whacked it in another direction or something like that. So it’s just, it’s us applying the rules.”

Rule 33-7 also gives a tournament committee the right to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette, but Davis added: “It was really put in there to give the committee some ability when you have an outright, egregious situation. It tends not to be applied when a player just reacts with some quick intent.

“For instance, under that rule if somebody damages the course out of temper, typically what a committee would do is say, you do it again, and we’re going to remove you from the competition, but you typically wouldn’t do that the first time unless it was so egregious.

“So it’s there, but 33-7 is rarely used. Wouldn’t be appropriate in this case.”

Rickie Fowler, who played alongside Mickelson in the final round, felt Mickelson had not been guilty of a breach of etiquette, adding: “It just shows you how borderline that pin [on 13] could be.”

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