Bubba and Brandt getting serious
The QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club is the PGA Tour's traditional end-of-season jamboree, but for Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker the week has real purpose.
The knockabout nature of the pairs event allows players to treat it like the last day of school and a few years ago Watson dressed up as Father Christmas. This year, however, the two have joined forces and are leaving others to have fun as they seek to re-acquaint themselves with the heat of battle.
Watson made only one top-five finish in 2017, in another pairs event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and he is very nearly two years without a win. When he departed the FedEx Cup Play-Offs in early September he planned to take the rest of the year away from the game, but he missed the competition.
Snedeker, meanwhile, has had injury rather than form issues this year, struggling with a sternum problem that has bamboozled the medical experts and he returned to action for the first time since June when T-29th in the RSM Classic.
"You realise how much you love what you do," said Snedeker ahead of the first round in Florida. "How lucky we are to do what we do, and how passionate we are about it."
Back in 2015 Snedeker teamed up with Jason Dufner to win this event and the Watson pairing is a result of time spent together at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Snedeker was playing that week, Watson was vice-captain. "Fixing him sandwiches," Watson laughed. "Getting water for him, you know."
A friendship was born and they hope to reap the rewards this week. For Snedeker it is also a warm-up for his final start of the year, in next week's Indonesia Masters where he hopes to protect his tenuous hold on a top-50 world ranking and with it earn an invite to next year's Masters.
"I think it's a 15-hour flight from JFK to Hong Kong, and I'm not even close to being there once I get to Hong Kong," he said. "It's going to be a long trip."
The Snedeker/Watson combo is 12.00 to win the tournament. Two-time Masters champion Watson is 61.00 to triumph at Augusta again in 2018. Snedeker, who has three top tens at the first Major of the year, is 67.00.
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