Bubba Watson wins 3rd Riviera title, ending 2-year drought
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bubba Watson ended two years without winning with his third victory at Riviera.
Watson seized 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 in the Genesis Open over Kevin Na and Tony Finau, and more tears on the 18th green. It was his first victory since he won at Riviera 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 on a dozen occasions. If anything, the only talk of retirement should be whether settle down off Sunset Boulevard. He joined Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum as three-time winners at Riviera. Hogan’s victories include a U.S. Open.
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 lurked all day. His last chance was an eagle putt on the 17th that stopped inches short of the hole.
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 watched the ball roll 20 feet down the hill, leading to bogey. Mickelson shot 68 and tied for sixth.
Watsonwrapped up another fun-filled week in L.A. on and off the golf course, which included an appearance in the NBA All-Star celebrity game, where he shot an air ball from just inside the top of the key and was rejected by Tracy McGrady driving — jogging, really — along the baseline toward the basket. Far more memorable was getting his 10th career PGA Tour victory. He finished at 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.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Joe Durant birdied the final two holes — and got some help from Steve Stricker — to win the Chubb Classic.
Durant shot a 5-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over Stricker (70), David Toms (65), Lee Janzen (68), Billy Mayfair (64) and Tim Petrovic (64).
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.
The 53-year-old Durant closed with a 15-footer to finish at 19-under 197 on TwinEagles’ Talon course. He has three victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning four PGA Tour titles.
Durant eagled the par-5 13th and birdied the par-4 14th to take the lead at 18 under. He dropped into a tie with a bogey on the par-3 16th and Stricker’s birdie on the hole.
John Daly had a hole-in-one on the 16th in a 67. He finished eighth at 13 under.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Jin Young Ko of South Korea, playing in her first event as an LPGA Tour member, closed with a 3-under 69 to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Women’s Australian Open.
Ko led by four shots going into the final round at Kooyonga Golf Club. Hyejin Choi (67) pulled within one shot at the turn, but Ko made birdie on No. 9 and pulled away with two more birdies to win by three shots over Choi. Hannah Green (69) of Australia was alone in third.
Ko finished at 14-under 274 and earned $195,000. She also won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea late last year, which earned her LPGA membership. Ko is a 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour.
She becomes the second player to claim an LPGA Tour title in her first start as a member, and the first since Beverly Hanson in 1951.
MUSCAT, Oman (AP) — Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday for his first victory in nearly 17 months.
The 32-year-old Dutchman closed with a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead England’s Chris Wood (69). The timing could not have been better for Luiten. The victory moved him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, earning him a place ini the World Golf Championship in Mexico City 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.
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, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.
It was his first title since the KLM Open in 2016, a span of 35 starts worldwide.
Jaco Ahlers of South Africa began his back nine with an eagle, added three straight birdies and closed with an 8-under 64 to win the Dimension Data Pro-Am by three shots over Jean-Paul Strydom on the Sunshine Tour.