Lofty playoff ranking gives Bubba East Lake boost

Tue Sep 9, 2014 4:28pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Bubba Watson has never been a great fan of East Lake Golf Club but he is excited to be at the iconic venue for this week's Tour Championship where he carries his highest ever FedExCup ranking into the PGA Tour finale.

Though the long-hitting American has not always thrived at East Lake because of its tight fairways and clinging rough, he is in an ideal position to clinch FedExCup playoff honors and the eye-popping $10 million bonus that comes with it.

Every player in this week's elite field of 29 has a mathematical chance of claiming both titles but only Watson and four others are automatically guaranteed the overall playoff prize by winning the Tour Championship.

"This is my best ranking ever coming into this tournament," Masters champion Watson, who sits third in the FedExCup standings, told reporters at East Lake on Tuesday.

"Last time I played here, I finished fifth (at the Tour Championship), which was pretty good for me around this track. So I am looking forward to it, looking forward to the challenge and trying to improve on the ranking there."

Watson has competed in the Tour Championship four times since the FedExCup playoffs were launched in 2007, finishing stone last in 2008, joint 17th in 2010, tied for 23rd in 2011 and joint fifth in 2012.

"It's always in perfect shape," Watson said of East Lake. "The greens are always running good. But the grass, the Bermuda, and tighter fairways, for me it's not good. And then I catch a lot of flyers. The ball doesn't stop out of this grass for me.

"So it's a very difficult golf course for me, but I love it. Again, we're trying to challenge ourselves, and this is what we have to play, this is what we have to do if we want to improve in the FedExCup or win a golf tournament. We have to play well."   Continued...

Sep 6, 2014; Cherry Hills Village, CO, USA; Bubba Watson tees off from the 17th hole during the third round of the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports