Rose holds off Watson's late charge at Doral

March, 11, 2012
DORAL, Fla. -- On Sunday, Justin Rose didn't play spectacular golf in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He had four birdies and two bogeys for a 2-under-par 70 and 16-under total. But it was good enough for a 1-shot win over Bubba Watson.

At the Blue Monster, the 18th hole always finds its way into the storyline in the final round. Playing in the second-to-last pairing and after blocking his drive right into the rough -- safely away from a watery grave on the left -- Rose hit his approach behind the green. He could have made double-bogey and fallen into a tie with Watson, but he managed to escape with a bogey.

Watson, who had played with Rose in their first three rounds at Doral, did his best to catch him. After bailing out right with his drive at the 18th hole, the former Georgia star hit a high cut through the trees to 9 feet. But he couldn't make the putt to send the tournament into a playoff. Watson finished with a 2-over-par 74.

With the victory, the 31-year-old Rose earned his fourth career PGA Tour title.

Bubba's up-and-down day
The 33-year-old three-time tour winner finally succumbed to his demons Sunday. Although he was able to birdie the easy par-5 1st hole, his errant tee shot there foretold a day of struggles. At the third hole, he hit his approach from the left rough into the pond, but made a 24-foot bogey putt to fall back to 17-under par. Then after bogeying the fourth hole, he fell into a tie with Rose.

Watson's struggles continued on the fifth hole, where he blocked his drive into a narrow creek that runs adjacent to the fairway. From there, Watson made his third straight bogey. He would miss his first seven fairways.

Through the first three rounds, Watson had been 10-under par on the front nine, but on Sunday he would shoot a 3-over 39. Watson got back into a tie for the lead with Rose with a birdie at the 12th hole. But then Watson made his fifth bogey of the day at the par-3 13th to fall out of the lead for good.

Watson is a work in progress. He had been honest all week about his dislike of the Blue Monster. It didn't fit his eye. But his magical shot at the 72nd hole proves that he might be the best shot-maker in the game.

Keegan Bradley's run
Playing alongside Watson with his aunt, LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, in the gallery, the 2011 PGA Championship winner had an eagle at the first hole and took the outright lead after No. 5. With a birdie at the seventh hole, Bradley took a 2-shot lead. But bogeys at Nos. 8 and 10, both par-5s, put a dent in his chances of winning the tournament.

Bogeys at Nos. 15 and 17 and a double at the 18th pushed him further down the leaderboard with a closing 75 and a tie for eighth.

Still, the 25-year-old Woodstock, Vt., native proved why he should be a favorite at the Masters and a lock to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Tiger pains
After hitting his drive on the 12th hole Sunday, Tiger Woods withdrew, citing tightness in his left Achilles.

This incident eerily resembled his withdrawal last May from the Players Championship after nine holes in the first round. Witnesses had noticed Tiger favoring his left leg midway through his first nine, and after a 321-yard drive down the middle of the fairway on No. 12, he grimaced in pain.

Woods said later through a representative that in the past he would have continued but decided not to put more stress on the sore Achilles. He will have his leg evaluated this week. His future playing schedule is up in the air. He is currently in the field in two weeks at Bay Hill.

Would he have continued if he'd been 5 under instead of 3 over? It's difficult to say. But on Sunday, he was in no mood to fight through the pain.

A No. 1-ranked effort
Rory McIlroy knew coming into Sunday that one of two things had to happen for him to overcome an 8-shot gap between him and overnight leader Watson: He had to race out and post a really low number or hope the leader came back to the field. In the end, he was fortunate to get both results. By 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, McIlroy was 1 shot off the lead held by Rose.

Teeing off 30 minutes ahead of the leaders, McIlroy ran out of holes and chances to catch the eventual winner. In the end, shooting 65-67 on the weekend wasn't enough. But he'll probably look back with regret at the two bogeys he had on the weekend on the 14th hole.

Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at





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