Bubba Watson claimed a thumping 7 and 6 victory over Kevin Kisner to win a second World Golf Championships title at the WGC - Dell Technologies Match Play and immediately played down the notion that he's the favourite to win his third green jacket at the Masters next week.
"Favourites, you can't pick favourites. And no, I'm not a favourite, I'm going to definitely say that. I'm not a favourite. I don't want anybody to talk to me that week, let me just focus on what I've got to do. I'm not going to play well that week, so nobody talk to me.
"I want you to bug everybody else. A favourite, it's -- you eat the wrong food, you just wake up in the wrong way, whatever it is. So a favourite, that's for stuff that we don't care about. We want to try to go out and do our jobs. And if we do our job well, we think we're good enough to beat the other guys."
Kisner had beaten Alex Noren on the 19th in a high-quality semi-final and the championship match looked set to be a tight affair but Watson won the first five holes to storm into a lead he never looked like relinquishing.
The difference was six at the turn and while Kisner got the biggest cheer of the day as he won the 11th with a lengthy putt, Watson birdied the next to complete a comprehensive victory and join an exclusive club, becoming the fifth player with multiple major championships and multiple World Golf Championships titles, joining Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
2012 Masters Tournament
2014 Masters Tournament
2015 WGC-HSBC Champions
2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Noren finished third with a 5 and 3 win over Justin Thomas, whose loss to Watson in the last four prevented him from moving to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.
"I haven't had such a hard time not thinking about something so much," Thomas said. "And that really sucked. I couldn't stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest."
The Swede now moves to fifth in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, behind leader Shubhanker Sharma, who held on to the Number One spot despite exiting the WGC – Dell Match Play at the group stage.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat moved to second place after reaching the quarter-finals in Austin, while Tyrell Hatton is in third after reaching the last 16. Tommy Fleetwood completes the top five after moving to fourth spot.
“This is unbelievable. A dream come true. Obviously ending on the 12th hole makes it a lot easier than try to battle and go extra holes like he did this morning. At the beginning of the week you don't know what's going to happen, because golf is very difficult. So for me to stay focused, stay committed to my shots, there's probably about four shots for the whole week that I wasn't committed to. That's pretty good for me.
“I know that we're supposed to make a big deal out of Augusta and everything, but it's a golf tournament. Everybody here, the top 64, well, top 71 or whatever they were in the world. So all those guys have a chance to win any week. I'm confident, obviously, having two wins. So if I miss the cut, I still have two wins to fall back on so far. But, yeah, when I get there, I'm going to look forward to it and hopefully I can get this focus and my putter rolling like it is.”
On the Masters, which he won in 2012 and 2014, he added: "I'll take any tournament, it doesn't matter. Obviously, I want a green jacket. I never felt a coat feel so good. But, yeah, let's be honest, I'll take anything. We'll all do it. You talk to anybody. We all want to win a tournament. And the Green Jacket is -- that's the greatest golf tournament that's ever been played. A third time, I mean I don't know if I can get lucky three times."
“I'm very pleased with the way I played. It's been a long week. There's a lot of pressure. I feel the pressure. So I'm happy. I was very, very sad after this morning's loss. I thought I had it. But that's the way it goes sometimes. It's been a good week. I was very angry this morning after the loss because I really thought I had some great opportunities on the back nine to take the lead. But it didn't happen. And then he rolled some good putts. I was devastated after that loss. It was one of the hardest losses probably ever for me.
“And then coming out this afternoon, it feels just kind of weird that there's a lot to play for and I'm happy with the way I played. If somebody said at the start of the week I would be third, it would have been nice to take that. But, yeah, Justin’s a great player and I played steady today. It's great to play against the best, especially when you beat them.
“It's going to be nice to head to the Masters in really good form. It's perfect for me. I gained a lot of confidence from this week. Match play is tough because you're trying your hardest on every shot and that’s a good warm-up for a Major.
“It feels good to have a week off now and recharge my batteries and kind of see my coaches and fine tune what wasn't going so well this week, and then work on what's going well. I'm looking forward to the Masters.”
"I don't know what was going on. It was just pitiful. I couldn't hit anywhere close to where I was trying. Long week. A little tired, probably. Lose some legs, and just didn't have it. And finally made a few good swings coming in, but those were too little, too late.