February 19, 2018

Bubba Watson wins 2018 Genesis Open

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Bubba Watson reached his goal and joined elite company in the process by winning the $7.2 Genesis Open on Sunday at sun-splashed Riviera Country Club.

The slender left-hander and two-time Masters champion has sought to record 10 victories on the PGA TOUR and reached that figure after scoring a two-stroke triumph over Kevin Na and Tony Finau. Watson closed with a 2-under-par 69 to finish at 12-under 272, while Na and Finau posted 69s to share second at 274.

It marked Watson’s third win at Riviera, the first coming in 2014. He also prevailed in 2016, his last TOUR title, and has battled health issues, contemplating retirement many times.

“It means a lot,” the 39-year-old Watson said afterward. “You never know if you’re going to play good again.”

Other three-time tournament champions include Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Macdonald Smith. Watson became the second three-time winner of the tournament at Riviera, joining Lloyd Mangrum who accomplished the feat in 1949, 1951 and 1953.

For Watson, it was a memorable week all-around. He visited the set of the popular TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” and played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game on Saturday. Watson made two free throws in the latter, but also had a shot swatted by Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady.

“It was a blast,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

Watson fired a 6-under-par 65 on Saturday to take a one-stroke advantage into Sunday’s final round. While he struggled early, making three bogeys, he steadied with length and touch, carding five birdies overall.

The turning point came at par-3 14th. Clinging to a one-shot cushion, Watson’s tee shot found the front-left bunker. Long-time caddie Ted Scott implored him to hole it out, and Watson did, the ball motoring into the center of the cup for a birdie and two-shot lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

Watson earned $1.3 million for his efforts.

Following play, he received the winner’s trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods, who missed the cut in only his second PGA Tour start in two years. The event is run by TGR Live and proceeds benefit the TGR Foundation.

Other notable finishes from the star-studded field included Phil Mickelson (t-6), Jordan Spieth (t-9), Dustin Johnson (t-16) and Rory McIlroy (t-20).