Wednesday 25 April 2018

Family ties draw Watson back to Travelers

Bubba Watson is set to represent the United States in the Rio Olympics Photo: Reuters
Bubba Watson is set to represent the United States in the Rio Olympics Photo: Reuters Newsdesk Newsdesk

Defending champion Bubba Watson's emotional ties to the Travelers Championship mean he was never going to skip this week to give himself a break before the Olympics.

The big-hitting left-hander is due to represent the United States in Brazil next week as golf returns to the summer Games.

But it was not just the thought of defending his title, which he won for a second time last year, which brought him back to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

"Winning the Travelers Championship for me is very important because of my dad," he said. "In 2010 my dad passed away three months after the event so it's the only win he got to see me. Travelers has been a big supporter of my family and helped over the years. When my dad passed away they were the first people there to help me and support me and see how my mom needed help so Travelers means a lot to me not just because of the golf and because the cheques clear but because of the other stuff, too."

Watson sits just outside the automatic qualification places for the US Ryder Cup team but he hopes a good week at the Travelers followed by a decent showing at the Olympics will boost his chances.

"I don't want to go off a pick. I'll take a pick all day long but it's better to set yourself on that team than rely on a pick," he added.

"I figure a gold medal will help, though. Even though it doesn't count (towards Ryder Cup points), it'll still count."

Patrick Reed is one place behind Watson in the race to be part of Davis Love's team. He is also part of the four-man American team heading to Rio after the tournament and he feels he is coming into form as he searches for his first win since January 2015.

Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington's PGA performance last weekend (finishing tied 13th) gives him good form ahead of the Connecticut tournament that Shane Lowry will also compete in.

Saltire Paul Lawrie Match Play,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 12.30/4.0pm

Travelers Championship, Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.0pm

Irish Independent

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