Golf

Unusual penalty helps Watson win

Bubba Watson won the Zurich Classic on Sunday for his second PGA Tour victory of the year and third overall, holing a 3-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Webb Simpson in Avondale, La.

After his 329-yard drive narrowly stayed out of the water and landed in a fairway bunker, Watson hit his second shot 210 yards to the green on the 568-yard, par-5 18th.

Simpson’s second shot landed in a bunker short of the green, and he blasted out to 12 feet. After Simpson narrowly missed his birdie putt, Watson holed out for the victory.

Simpson, winless on the PGA Tour, was left to wonder what might have been if not for an unusual one-stroke penalty on No. 15 when his ball moved as he was addressing it on the green.

“I better limit my comments on that rule, because I think it’s such a bad rule,” said Simpson, who seemed to think windy conditions, combined with relatively dry, hard greens, caused the ball to move. “When the wind or other natural things affect the golf ball, the player shouldn’t be penalized. It was just unfortunate, but Bubba deserves a win, and I’m pretty happy for him.”

Watson, also the winner at Torrey Pines in late January, matched Simpson with a 3-under 69 to finish at 15-under 273 at TPC Louisiana. Both players birdied the 18th on the first extra hole.

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Top-ranked Lee Westwood rallied to win the Ballantine’s Championship for his second consecutive victory, shooting a 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Miguel Angel Jimenez in Seoul, South Korea. Westwood, who won the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters last week to regain the No. 1 spot in the world, finished at 12-under 276. Maria Hjorth took advantage of Alexis Thompson’s collapse in a failed bid to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner, rallying to win the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala. Hjorth shot her second consecutive 5-under 67 to finish at 10-under 278, two strokes ahead of Song-Hee Kim (71). The 16-year-old Thompson, tied for the lead with Kim entering the round, had a 78 to drop into a tie for 19th at 1 under. Monday qualifier Ted Potter Jr. won the South Georgia Classic for his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Mathew Goggin in Valdosta, Ga.

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