Golf: Bubba, Varner beat Day, Bryan in PGA charity tuneup match

Harold Varner III (left) and Bubba Watson celebrate with their trophy belts. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bubba Watson and Harold Varner III defeated Australian Jason Day and Wesley Bryan 3 and 1 in a nine-hole charity event on Wednesday (July 1) ahead of the PGA Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Two-time Masters champion Watson and former world number one Day traded jokes ahead of their pairing for Thursday and Friday tournament rounds alongside Brendon Todd, seeking his third PGA title of the season.

The Detroit Golf Club event, played without spectators, is the fourth tourney of the tour's comeback from a three-month coronavirus shutdown that began in March.

Wednesday's foursome played a casual back-nine round with television cameras and microphones, raising US$570,000 (S$790,000) to bring Internet access to Detroit families in need.

"It wasn't about the victory today. It was about something else," Watson said. "When you think about the Internet access, for them to have it at home, that's the cool part."

Watson and Varner won the 10th hole to start the match. Day birdied the par-4 13th but Watson matched him to halve the hole and Watson birdied again from four feet at the par-3 15th for a 2-up lead.

Varner chipped in for eagle at the par-5 17th to clinch the victory.

"It was good to be able to do something special," Varner said.

Watson, wearing a red shirt and golf shorts, called out 15-time major champion Tiger Woods, who has not played since a May charity event.

"Tiger, get off your couch," Watson said.

Woods is expected to play in two weeks at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

Watson was excited about $500,000 in donation from PGA event sponsors, joking, "They felt sorry for Day."

Day fired back as good as he got, noting of the long-driving Watson: "Even though he's old and hairy, he still hits the ball a long way."

Watson wanted to be given a birdie putt at the 15th, but Day rejected the idea, saying, "No, you've got to putt it. You get that head wobble."

Nothing wobbled as Watson knocked it in to double the lead.

In other groups during the first and second rounds, Webb Simpson, a Heritage winner two weeks ago, will join fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and defending champion Nate Lashley while US stars Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are joined by Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.