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Golf Tidbits: Watson’s closing woes

After an opening birdie, Watson faltered to three straight bogeys from the
third hole and was promptly out of the lead. Not only was he no longer atop
the leaderboard, but also looked defeated.

A quick look back suggests a lot. Before the round, when Watson gave a
television interview, he seemed resigned to the fact that he would lose his
lead. He said whatever happened didn’t matter as it was all about Jarrod Lyle.

The sentiment was touching as Lyle’s wife gave birth to couple’s first child
the day before and Lyle himself was preparing to start chemotherapy treatments
for a recurrence of leukemia.

While Watson’s heart was in the right place, his head may not have been. In
fairness to him, he did right the ship and get back into contention, but he
didn’t seal the deal when given the chance.

Despite a bogey at 13, Watson was still within reach of eventual winner Justin
Rose. The Englishman tripped to a bogey at the last hole to give Watson an
opening.

However, Watson failed to come through. He knocked his approach shot on the
final hole to nine feet. If that birdie effort fell, there would have been a
playoff.

Watson missed and finished second for the sixth time in his tour career. The
miss cost him his fourth tour title.

This wasn’t the first time Watson had coughed up the 54-hole lead. In fact,
the loss marked the third time in four tries that he failed to win when
entering the final round with the lead.

Two of the three times, Watson was one of the co-leaders entering the last
round. The first such situation was at the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Watson ended six back that day, and that was an indication of things to come.
His other two 54-hole leads that he failed to hold were in 2009 at Quail
Hollow and last weekend.

Though he has trouble keeping the lead, Watson has no problem rallying to win.
In his three wins, Watson has carded rounds of 69, 67 and 66. His rounds of 69
and 66 got Watson into playoffs, where he won.

The statistics in his wins and losses show you where Watson’s struggles lie.
In his three victories, his scoring average is 67.33 in the final round.
Meanwhile, he averages 71.67 in his losses.

Four shots in the final round can mean the difference between winning and
finishing outside the top 20 some weeks.

Those numbers aren’t too dissimilar from his overall scoring numbers. Watson’s
scoring average this season stands at 69.55, which puts him in a tie for 12th
on tour. However, his final round scoring average is 71.00, which leaves him
tied for 85th.

Maybe Watson should trick his mind to think that the final round is really the
second round, where he averages 68.20 strokes per round, his best average of
any round.

Whatever Watson is doing in the final round when leading isn’t working. He
needs to try something different to try to hold those 54-hole leads.

WELCOME BACK LPGA

Not only did the LPGA return to action this week after a two-week break, the
tour is in the United States for the first time this season.

And it is a special event for the tour. The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
celebrates the 13 women who united to help form the tour.

Last year, in a special nod to those legends, the players played for free.
Sure, in their bios, you will see money they earned at this tournament, but
that money was donated to charity, so all of the played who played all three
rounds didn’t earn a penny.

For those who haven’t been paying attention this year, Jessica Korda won the
season opener in Australia, then women’s world No. 1 Yani Tseng won in
Thailand and Angela Stanford claimed the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

The tour is in action each of the next three weeks, and that run ends with the
season’s first major championship – the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The LPGA will be in action seven of the next 11 weeks before moving into the
heart of its schedule in June.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Get-well wishes obviously go out to Lyle in his battle with leukemia. He has
beaten it once; here’s hoping he can do so again.

* More get-well wishes go out to Paul Goydos, who recently underwent surgery
on his left wrist to remove a large bone spur.

* Despite being squeezed between the second World Golf Championships event and
the Arnold Palmer Invitational, this week’s Transitions Championship has
attracted 22 of the top-50 players in the world.

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