Once Again Bubba Watson Is the Winner
February 22, 2018
Bubba and Riviera are an even-year match made in heaven. For the third time in the past five years Bubba Watson won the PGA Tour's signature event in Pacific Palisades at the Riviera Country Club. Watson was visibly and emotionally touched as he accepted the 2018 Genesis Open trophy, winning by two strokes over Tony Finau and Kevin Na.
"My feeling is I can't believe it. You know, the hard work, the dedication, the drive, the tears knowing that I won," said Watson. "It's unbelievable. To do it twice was amazing, and then have a chance on the back nine on Sunday to do it again and then pull it off, very special. I'm not sure how many people have won three times here, but I'll take it."
For the 39-year old Floridian it was the 10th PGA Tour victory in his career that began in 2006. His first win came in 2010 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. Four years later he captured his first title at Riviera followed by a one-stroke victory in 2016 in Los Angeles when the tournament was known as the Northern Trust Open. He has won the Masters Tournament twice, in 2012 and 2014.
The left-handed playing Watson earned $1,296,000 for the win, his first since... the 2016 victory at Riviera. He shot a 69 in his final round to card a 272 (-12). Na and Finau finished at 274 (-10) to tie for second place while Scott Stallings and Patrick Cantlay tied for fourth, both at 275 (-9). Watson began the final round with a one-stoke lead grouped with Cantlay and Cameron Smith.
Watson started off the day with a birdie on the par-five first hole before suffering three bogeys on the front nine. UCLA alum Cantley had a one-stroke lead heading into the back nine but got stung with consecutive bogeys on holes 10 and 11. Watson turned the tide beginning with the 11th hole as the other contenders failed to capitalize.
"Well, first of all, let's go to 11. Got up and down out of the bunker for birdie. It was about 12 foot give or take. Make the story better, make it 15. Then 12 I made the putt, 13 I made the putt, and then holed the bunker shot, so those holes in a row," explained Watson.
"No. 10, I still don't know how to play No. 10 so par on that hole is a birdie for me. So there's five holes in a row I'm guessing were humungous holes because it's back into the wind and somehow I played those holes under par."
Watson grabbed the permanent lead when he holed a bunker shot on the par-3 14th hole. He parred the next two holes before two-putting for a birdie on the 17th hole that virtually gave him the tournament with one hole to play. His 10th career win leaves him in second place among left-handed players but trailing Phil Mickelson with 42 career titles by a wide margin.
Other notables finishing: Mickelson tied for sixth at -8, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas tied for ninth at -7. 2017 Genesis Open winner Dustin Johnson ended up tied for 16th at -4 and Rory McIlroy tied for 20th at -3. Rookie and upcoming star Xander Schauffele also tied for ninth at -7 in only his eighth PGA Tour career start.
For TGR Live's second year hosting the event it was a huge success. Beginning with the ideal weather that encouraged local golf fans to enjoy the added hospitality facilities, food and beverage concessions to the coordinated efforts by the marshals, volunteers and tournament staff to ensure the large crowds enjoyed the action, the beautiful scenery and the festivities.
With the Masters Tournament right around the corner in a short eight weeks time Watson was asked about his chances at Augusta National in Georgia: "I'm looking forward to it. Like I said, I was trending, I'm trending in the right direction and hopefully I can scare that Top 100 again. I didn't know where I was in the world."
"It's funny because anytime you go to the Masters you're like a kid in the candy store. Like Fred Couples, every time Fred Couples shows up, we see his name up there. So no matter where I am, I always feel like I have a chance at Augusta because it's always in perfect shape and you get excited around that place."