CROMWELL, CT – JUNE 24: Bubba Watson of the United States acknowledges the gallery after making a par on the fourth green during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 24, 2018, in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
By E. Michael Johnson
Bubba Watson is known for his booming tee shots and curving approaches, but on the 72nd hole of the Travelers Championship, it was a deft touch with his lob wedge that proved the difference.
Watson is using Ping’s Glide 2.0 wedges (after a brief try of the company’s new Glide Forged model). Watson has three wedges with actual lofts of 51.6 degrees, 55.3 degrees and 62.8 degrees. The shafts were True Temper’s X100 at plus one-half inch in length and, as is Watson’s custom, the grips are gigantic, with 14 wraps of tape under his left hand and 12 wraps under his right hand. For his shot on the final hole, Watson nipped the 62.8-degree lob wedge from 73 yards to kick-in distance, capping off a final-round 63 and giving him what proved to be the winning margin. Notably, Watson also is known not to have the grind on the sole on his wedges altered because replicating the shape is too difficult to achieve, opting instead to learn how to play with a standard grind.
Not to be overlooked is the Titleist Pro V1x ball used at the Travelers as well. Watson endured a disappointing 2016-17 season after switching from Titleist to Volvik, but went back to the Pro V1x in November of last year, noting, “I’m just going to go back to what I grew up with, so I’m playing Titleist.”
The other clubs in Watson’s bag also did their jobs. Watson had a very respectable .807 strokes gained-putting for the week (including a stellar 1.649 Sunday) using a Ping PLD putter with 4.5 degrees of loft, thanks to Watson spending some time in the offseason experimenting with putter lofts. The two-time Masters champ had been as low as 2.5 degrees of loft on his putter but decided he needed more.
Watson also had his pink Ping G400 LST driver as a valuable weapon at TPC River Highlands. The 44.5-inch driver is 8.5 degrees but with a finished loft of just 7.6 degrees with a Grafalloy BiMatrx shaft tipped a half inch. Watson’s driver also has an enormous grip with 15 wraps of tape where he would place his bottom hand and 13 wraps on the top hand. The LST is Ping’s low-spin version of its G400 driver. Watson has fought too much spin off the tee in recent years and the LST has brought that number down to a more desirable level. Watson averaged 311.8 yards for the week in Cromwell.
Watson hit 56 of 72 greens using the same model irons he used during his second win at Augusta National, Ping’s S55 model. The irons are half an inch longer than a standard in length and boast an extreme heel grind to give Watson the turf interaction he desires. Watson also makes sure the lie angles are always correct. When initially testing the irons he noticed the hooked too much, requiring them to be made one degree more upright.
Still, aside from the putter, it was the shortest club in Watson’s bag that proved the difference, giving Watson his third Travelers title.
What Bubba Watson had in the bag at the Travelers Championship
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Ping G400 LST (Grafalloy BiMatrx), 7.6 degrees
3-wood: Ping G, 13.2 degrees
Irons (2): Ping iBlade; (4-PW): Ping S55
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (51.6, 55.5, 63 degrees)
Putter: Ping PLD