Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
Watson tops Simpson for New Orleans title



New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Bubba Watson birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Webb Simpson and get his second win of the year at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Watson and Simpson headed back to the par-five 18th at the TPC Louisiana after both shot three-under 69s in regulation to tie at 15-under 273. It probably shouldn't have even got to a playoff, but a penalty at 15 cost Simpson.

He was one shot ahead and lagged his long birdie putt close at the 15th. Simpson grounded the club before he tapped it in and with the putter grounded, the ball moved. The penalty, called by Simpson on himself, cost him a stroke, but neither player could birdie the last three, forcing the playoff.

"It probably moved half an inch. It's a bad rule," Simpson said in a televised interview. "I don't think it's a good rule. It's a gentleman's game and we're supposed to call penalties on ourselves."

Simpson found the fairway off the 18th tee on the first playoff hole, while Watson landed in the left rough. Watson knocked his second short of the green and Simpson's approach rolled through the green and luckily stopped on a sprinkler head, otherwise his ball would have rolled farther.

Watson hit an adequate pitch to 12 feet and after several unsuccessful drops, Simpson placed his ball without penalty on the fringe. Simpson's eagle try stopped three feet from the hole, setting up a great look at birdie.

Watson stepped up and drained his birdie putt, placing the pressure on Simpson's short one. Simpson responded and they went back to the 18th tee for the second playoff hole.

Once again, Simpson found the short grass off the tee. Watson's tee ball flirted with the water on the right, but settled in a bunker. Simpson hit his second into a greenside bunker and Watson hit a terrific shot 50 feet short of the stick.

Simpson blasted out to almost the exact spot Watson was at for birdie on the first playoff hole. Watson rolled his eagle try for the win just inside four feet.

Simpson couldn't convert his birdie putt and Watson had the short putt for the victory. He poured it in for his second win of the year after the Farmer's Insurance Open.

It was Watson's third victory on tour and all three have come in the last year. He won last year's Travelers Championship and lost a playoff at the PGA Championship.

Watson credited a philosophical change.

"I realized that golf doesn't mean a thing to me," Watson said in a televised interview. "It's all about the stuff off of golf. That's what means more to me."

Simpson got his second runner-up of 2011. He finished second at the Transitions Championship and is still in search of his first PGA Tour victory.

"I'm a little disappointed right now," Simpson said. "I'll learn from it and hopefully have another chance next week."

Even Watson felt for his friend after the penalty at 15.

"You don't win an event that way," said Watson on television. "But I had to tell myself after I felt bad for him that we still have got a golf tournament."

The penalty definitely changed things. Simpson built a one-shot lead thanks to some great early play and some miscues from Watson.

Both players were three-under on their rounds after five holes and both eagled the par-five second from inside 10 feet. Watson double-bogeyed the par-three ninth when his tee ball landed in water and Simpson birdied the 10th from three feet to grab a three-shot lead.

But Simpson bogeyed the 12th and Watson made a short birdie putt at 13 to cut the gap to a stroke. The penalty on 15 squared the two and Watson prevailed five holes later.

Jason Dufner (66), Tommy Gainey (69) and K.J. Choi (69) tied for third place at 13-under 275.

Matt Jones and George McNeill both had rounds of two-under 70 and shared sixth at 12-under 276.

NOTES: Watson pocketed $1,116,000 for the win and moved to the top of the FedEx Cup points standings...He joined Mark Wilson as the only multiple winners on tour this year...Luke Donald collected yet another top-10 when his three-under 69 tied him for eighth at 10-under par. It was his sixth in seven starts this year...Last year's winner Jason Bohn shot a one-over 73 on Sunday and he tied for 67th at plus-four...Next week is the Wells Fargo Championship which was won last year by Rory McIlroy, who fired a final-round 62 for the comeback victory.

05/01 19:38:03 ET