STAYING ALIVE: RANGEGOATS GC IN MIX FOR TEAM TITLE IN MIAMI
MIAMI – Bubba Watson has made no secret of his team’s goal to win the Team Championship in Miami this week. He’s said it to his teammates, to other players, and on every media platform, including when he was a guest TV analyst during Friday’s quarterfinals.
The talk became action on Saturday when his RangeGoats Golf Club advanced to Sunday’s final with a chance to hoist the hardware at Trump National Doral.
“It would be amazing,” Watson said. “That would be a great start for the RangeGoats. It would be a dream come true. But it's the same for everybody. We've got to just battle, and they are trying to do the same thing we are trying to do. We've got to get four good scores and hopefully that's enough.”
It didn’t start off great on Saturday. Watson, captain of RangeGoats GC, faced off against Sergio Garcia, captain of Fireballs GC. With the two superstars beginning their match on the 10th hole, Watson got off to a slow start and was 2-down after their first two holes before getting it back to 1-down after winning the par-5 12th hole.
After Garcia won another hole on No. 14 to regain a 2-up lead, Watson began to make some noise. He made birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to even the match, putting the pressure back on Garcia. But Garcia responded well, winning the next two holes to regain a 2-up lead. Garcia then went 3-up on Watson on the par-3 third hole with a birdie.
In the end, Garcia defeated Watson 4&3, leaving it up to the rest of the RangeGoats GC to step up. And they sure did.
In what would be a crucial match due to Watson’s outcome, RangeGoats GC’s Talor Gooch, the 2023 season-long individual champion, had a fierce battle against Fireballs GC’s Eugenio Chacarra. It was tight throughout, and Chacarra held a 1-up lead with four holes to play.
But Gooch responded by winning two late holes and led 1-up with one hole to play. He stuck his approach to 10 feet on the final hole and walked off with a 2-up victory and a point for his team.
“This was the plan from the get-go,” Gooch said. “Now it’s time to go do it.”
RangeGoats GC’s Harold Varner III and Thomas Pieters were outstanding against Fireballs GC’s Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer in team match play. When Varner drained a birdie on the par-3 fourth hole, it gave RangeGoats GC a 4-up lead with seven to play. The tandem was never challenged and finished with a 2&1 victory for another RangeGoats GC point, advancing them to Sunday with a chance to win the team championship.
“The team played great,” Watson said. “I struggled. I just didn't make any putts. Sergio, he made four or five birdies. He just stayed just ahead of me all day. And then all I could do after that is pull for the team. And the dream is still alive.”
Sunday’s format for the finals will be stroke play. All 48 players will compete in a shotgun start, and all four scores will count toward the team’s score.
The four semifinal winners from Saturday, which includes RangeGoats GC, will be in Tier 1 for the finals and the team champion will come from that group. The four teams eliminated after Saturday’s semifinals will be in Tier 2, fighting for 5th-8th place. Lastly, the four teams that were eliminated after Friday’s quarterfinals will be in Tier 3 and will compete for 9th-12th place.