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Watson delivers a masterpiece to win at Riviera
LOS ANGELES (AP) - This had all the trappings of “Bubba” golf.
Bubba Watson began the final round of the Northern Trust Open four shots out of the lead, and he promptly hit his tee shot on the easy par-5 opening hole at Riviera into the trees well right of the fairway. With just enough of a gap in the trees, he hooked a 7-iron through the limbs and onto the green for a birdie.
It was vaguely reminiscent of his last win nearly two years ago at the Masters, when he hooked a wedge out of the trees in a playoff and onto the 10th green to claim the green jacket and introduce the world to what he called “Bubba” golf.
What he needed Sunday at Riviera was great golf, and that’s what he delivered.
Watson made the cut on Friday with one shot to spare, and then was practically flawless. He played the entire weekend - and the last 39 holes of the tournament - without a bogey. He shot a 64 on Saturday to give himself hope, and then closed with a 64 on Sunday for a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson.
It was the lowest closing round at this tournament in 28 years. And it gave Watson a victory just two weeks after he let one get away in the Phoenix Open.
“My first win since the Masters,” Watson said. “You never know when your last win is going to be. My last win could have been the Masters, which would have been a great way to go out. But winning here at Northern Trust is nice. I never felt down that I haven’t won yet, but just kept plugging along. And somehow, it fell in my lap today.”
Johnson closed with a 66 for the second straight tournament and got the same result.
His 66 last week at Pebble Beach left him one shot behind Jimmy Walker. His 66 on Sunday made him a runner-up again.
“When you shoot 14 under on the weekend, it’s tough to beat that,” Johnson said.
Watson, who finished at 15-under 269, had lost track of time. He didn’t realize it had been nearly two years and 41 tournaments since his last victory. A reminder came Sunday afternoon, after he birdied the 18th hole, and then walked up the steps to the clubhouse and saw his son, Caleb.
He was adopted shortly before Watson won the 2012 Masters. He was alone in his green jacket that day. This time, wife and son were at Riviera to watch a masterpiece.
“When I won the Masters, it was just me,” Watson said. “Family members were there, but not my wife and not my son, who was just adopted at that point, and now is two weeks away from being 2 years old. What a thrill. We’ll have some pictures with him and my wife and the trophy, so it’s nice.”
Watson wasn’t the only big winner.
Jason Allred, who went to college up the coast at Pepperdine, played bogey-free for a 68 and tied for third with Brian Harman, who also had a 68. Allred was a Monday qualifier, and this was his first regular PGA Tour event since he last had his card in 2008.
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