LOS ANGELES — Bubba Watson was feeling low about his health and even worse about his golf. It reached a point that he wondered if he would ever win again, and he says he talked with his wife on a dozen occasions about retiring.
Being back at Riviera changed his outlook and made him a winner again.
Watson stayed in the game with three key putts early on the back nine, then fulfilled a playful pledge he forgot he even made on the par-3 14th by holing a bunker shot for birdie that allowed him to seize control Sunday in the Genesis Open. He never gave anyone a chance the rest of the way, closing with a 2-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Tony Finau and Kevin Na.
Watson won for the first time in two years, his longest drought of the decade. He joined Lloyd Mangrum and Ben Hogan as three-time winners at Riviera. And he won for the 10th time in his PGA Tour career, an important milestone to him.
“Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida, would ever get to 10 wins. Let’s be honest,” Watson said. “Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can’t putt, you know?”
He put on a clinic at Riviera, somehow managed to keep his focus, carved shots around, over and through the trees, and he made all the right putts.
Watson talks the way he hits the ball — all over the map — and he was particularly elusive about what caused him to lose so much weight last year. He says he reached close to 160 pounds, which he says affected his game and ultimately his confidence.
“I’m here. I’m healthy,” he said. “There are people that are a lot sicker than me in this world, so the illness is nothing.”
Watson, who finished at 12-under 272, moved from No. 117 to No. 41 in the world, making him eligible for the World Golf Championship in Mexico in two weeks.
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).
Durant birdies out to seal the win, Daly gets hole-in-one: NAPLES, Fla. — 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.
John Daly had a hole-in-one on the 16th in a 67. He finished eighth at 13 under.
South Korean dominates in first event as member: ADELAIDE, Australia — 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.