Bubba Watson breaks drought with win at Riviera

Bubba Watson fist pumps after making a putt to save par on the 13th hole during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Ryan Kang/Associated Press
Bubba Watson is pumped after making a putt to save par on the 13th hole en route to the Genesis Open title in Los Angeles.

Bubba Watson captured his third victory at Riviera, seizing control Sunday with two par putts as everyone around him was dropping shots, then pulling ahead by holing a bunker shot on the par-3 14th hole. He closed with a 2-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau in the Genesis Open in Los Angeles.

It was Watson’s first victory since he won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club two years ago, rising to No. 4 in the world.

Watson showed up this year at No. 117, coming off a year filled with so many doubts that he says he discussed retirement with his wife many times.


Instead, he joins Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum as three-time winners at Riviera. Hogan’s wins include a US Open.

Get Breaking Sports Alerts in your inbox:
Be the first to know the latest sports news as it happens.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Na hit a wedge close to perfection from the worst angle on the reachable par-4 10th hole for a birdie and two-putted for birdie on the 11th to briefly take the lead. He fell back with consecutive bogeys from the trees and shot 69. Finau’s last chance was an eagle putt on the 17th that stopped inches short.

Patrick Cantlay had a one-shot lead going to the back nine until he ran into tree trouble on the 12th and 13th holes. The UCLA alum could do no better than pars the rest of the way for a 71 to tie for fourth with Scott Stallings (68).

Phil Mickelson also was in the hunt. He was within one shot of the lead when he hit a 4-iron from a deep bunker on the 15th hole to just right of the green. But he went after birdie and saw the ball roll 20 feet down the hill, leading to bogey. Mickelson (68) tied for sixth.

Coming off good weeks at Phoenix and Pebble Beach, Mickelson has three straight top 10s for the first time since 2009.


Watson once jokingly said he would retire if he reached 10 PGA Tour victories, though this should only motivate him more, especially with the Masters closing in.

Watson already has two green jackets.

‘‘My goal has always been to get 10 wins. So many emotions going through my head right now,’’ Watson said, choking back tears. ‘‘You never know if you’re going to play good again. You never know if you’re going to lift the trophy.’’

He ended 12-under 272 and moved to No. 41 in the world, which makes him eligible for the World Golf Championship in Mexico City in two weeks.

Watson had a one-shot lead going into the final round, though this was up for grabs from the start. A week of sun made Riviera firmer than usual and penalized even the slightest mistakes, especially starting on the 12th hole when the course turns back toward the west and into the wind.


Watson hit a delicate chip from short of the 12th green to 8 feet and made the par putt on its last turn. Then, he came up short to a tough pin on the 13th, chipped to 8 feet and made it again to take a one-shot lead.

His big moment came on the 14th. Watson hit too big of a fade toward the left pin, and it came up short and into the bunker. He blasted out and watched it bang into the pin and disappear, and he pointed at caddie Ted Scott and said, ‘‘You called it.’’

From there, he didn’t make any mistakes with regulation pars on the next two holes, two putts from 60 feet for birdie on the 17th and a safe par on the 18th.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson, starting the final round four shots behind after a 64 on Saturday, made a double bogey on No. 5 that derailed him. Johnson made a triple bogey on that hole in the opening round.

LPGA — Jin Young Ko shot a 3-under 69 to clinch a 3-shot, start-to-finish win in the Women's Australian Open at Adelaide.

Playing in her first tournament as a full LPGA member, Ko shot 65, 69, 71, 69, to lead after all four rounds and finish with a 14-under 274 at the Kooyonga Golf Club. She is the first player to win her first tournament as an LPGA member in the tour’s 67-year history.

Ko started the day four shots clear of Hannah Green, who was bidding to become the first Australian to win her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014.

Green shot 69, missing a birdie on 18 which cost her a share of second place. She ended third at 10-under, one shot ahead of Katherine Kirk, who had a day’s best 7-under 65.

The stiffest challenge came from Ko’s South Korean compatriot Hyejin Choi, who closed within a shot at the turn, carding four birdies on her first nine holes.

Ko began with birdies at the first and second holes, then stumbled with bogeys on the par-3 third and seventh holes.

But just as her lead came under threat, she found another gear, birdying the ninth hole to regain a two-shot lead. She then pulled away with birdies at the 13th and 17th in what seemed a nerveless finish, showing the experience gained as a 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour.

She ended with a regulation par on the 18th to claim her second LPGA title after previously winning the co-sanctioned KEB-Hana Bank Championship.

Ko started the tournament ranked 20 but could be close to the top-10 by the start of the next LPGA tour stop in Thailand next weekend.

Choi was relentless in pursuit, the only player other than Ko to beat par in all four rounds. She shot 69, 71, 70, 67, to finish finishing at 277, 11 under par.

Jin Young Ko (center) celebrates her Women's Australian Open victory in Adelaide.
James Elsby/AFP/Getty Images
Jin Young Ko (center) celebrates her Women's Australian Open victory in Adelaide.

Champions — Joe Durant birdied the final two holes, and got help from Steve Stricker, to win the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic in Naples, Fla. Durant shot a 5-under 67 for a four-stroke win over Stricker, David Toms, Lee Janzen, Billy Mayfair, and Tim Petrovic.

Tied with Durant with two holes left, Stricker dropped a stroke back when Durant birdied the par-5 17th. On the par-4 18th, Stricker hit into the water and made a double bogey for a three-shot swing.

Durant closed with a 15-footer to finish at 19-under 197 on TwinEagles’ Talon course. He was safely on the 18th green when Stricker — needing birdie to tie — hit into the water.

Stricker shot 70 in his first start of the year on the senior tour.

Mayfair and Petrovic shot 64, Toms had a 65, and Janzen a 68.

Scott McCarron was 14 under after a 68.

John Daly had a hole-in-one in a 67 to get to 13 under. He used an 8-iron on the 16th for the ace.

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was ninth at 12 under after a 72.

European — Joost Luiten won the inaugural Oman Open in Muscat, to break a title drought of nearly 17 months. The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish 16-under 272, two shots ahead of England's Chris Wood (69).

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies.

Playing one group ahead, England’s Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

It was Luiten’s sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open. Luiten’s win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.