World Golf Championships are what they say

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Watson Forces Playoff, Wins WGC



By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network

In sports, the word 'championship' means so much more than the twelve letters. It is a defining point for a player, coach, or team. It is the crowning of the best in the sport at the time. And in golf, well it is not just the majors that do that.

There are as many World Golf Championships events as majors every year in golf. And that's not the only thing that the two have in common. The quality of talent at the WGC tournaments are superb, and some even better than major fields.

This past weekend, the WGC-HSBC Champions concluded the WGC events in 2014. For a fall-season tournament, which many of the top players take off for their offseason, most of them were present in Shanghai. 40 of the top 50 were there, to be exact, and the cream of the crop was at the top as the weekend wound down.

The talent is there

2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell led after each of the first three rounds. The Northern Irishman has been known to step it up at the biggest of events. He's finished in the top 10 in each of the last five WGC events and seven of the last eight overall. Add in a T9 at The Open Championship and a 3-0 record in another European Ryder Cup victory and McDowell is clearly one of the top guys out there.

But come Sunday, another one of the top guns stole the show. Bubba Watson is one of only a handful of guys who have multiple green jackets. He's a world class player, now ranked No. 3 in the world.

And Bubba brought to the HSBC Champions what every championship has: drama. Watson had a two-shot lead over the field coming to the 16th hole. He then went on to go bogey, double bogey to fall one back of Tim Clark, among others. Coming to the par-5 18th hole, Watson knew he had to at least birdie it. He hit his second shot into the greenside bunker.

And what did he do from there? Well, only what Bubba could do. He holed out! He was now in the lead, but only for a short time as Clark rolled in his birdie to force a playoff. On the first hole of the playoff on No. 18 again, Watson had a 20-foot downhill twister for the win. And of course, he drained it. Watson showed what a WGC event is all about in his stellar play in the most clutch of moments.

It was not just at the top that greatness was prevalent. It trickled down throughout the leaderboard. Rickie Fowler, No. 9 in the world, finished tied for third, and McDowell, No. 15, also finished T3. The rest of the top 10 consisted of the 40th player in the world, the 12th (and this year's U.S. Open champion), 32nd and 46th.

And it wasn't just this time

It was not just at last week's WGC tournament that one of the best in the game came out on top. In February at the Accenture Match Play Championship, Jason Day took home the trophy. He is considered by some to be the best player without a major. He is currently ranked No. 8 in the world and finished in the top 20 in three of the four majors this year.

Next up, it was the Cadillac Championship and again one of the best left Sunday at the top. Patrick Reed is one of the young superstars in the game. At 24 years old, he has already won three times on tour and was one of the few Americans that had a winning record at the Ryder Cup.

Last, but certainly not least, came the tournament that Tiger Woods has dominated for years and, of course, Rory McIlroy, who some have called the heir to Woods' throne, won the Bridgestone Invitational. The win was sandwiched in between McIlroy's Open Championship and PGA Championship victories. He is the No. 1 player in the world for a reason and showed yet again what the WGC events are about.

The majors are not the only tournaments in the golf schedule that matter. The World Golf Championships are just as good, if not even better than them. No one outside of the top 25 in the world won one in 2014 and two of the four were multiple major champions. So, come early March, not early April, the first big event of 2015 will occur. The Cadillac Championship will show off the best the game has to offer.

So don't just think of golf as four events every year. Unless you are talking about the WGC events, which are just as major as the majors.


Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4
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