|Bubba Watson plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Genesis Open on February 18 in Pacific Palisades, California. — AFP Photo|
LOS ANGELES — Bubba Watson fired a two-under-par 69 on Sunday to win an emotional third Genesis Open title, ending a drought that stretched back to his 2016 triumph here at Riviera Country Club.
One-over for the day after three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine, Watson produced three birdies without a bogey coming home for a 12-under par total of 272.
A spectacular hole-out for birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th gave him sole possession of the lead for good.
He added a four-foot birdie at 17 and capped his round with an eight-foot par putt at the last.
"It’s unbelievable. To do it twice was amazing, and then have a chance on the back nine on Sunday to do it again and then pull it off, very special," said Watson, who had slipped out of the top 100 in the world rankings after a forgettable 2016-17 season.
Watson finished two strokes in front of Kevin Na and Tony Finau, who both carded 69s for 10-under 274.
Watson’s 10th PGA Tour victory capped a halcyon week in Hollywood for the two-time Masters champion, who recorded a show with US comedy icon Jay Leno, dropped in on comedian and chat show host Ellen DeGeneres, took in a taping of TV sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" and played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday night.
"It loosened me up," Watson said of the extra-curricular activities. "I was so focused on other things I didn’t have time to focus on where I stood going into this week."
He shot to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday with a third-round 65.
A birdie at the par-five first on Sunday looked promising, but three bogeys on the front nine left him trailing at the turn.
Na’s back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 saw him move to 11-under, but his bid stalled with a brace of bogeys at 12 and 13.
Patrick Cantlay, who trailed Watson by one stroke going into the round, was also 11-under through 11 but bogeyed 12 and 13.
Cantlay, who was seeking a second title of the season, closed with a 71 to share fourth place with Scott Stallings, who carded a 68 for 275.
"I just didn’t make enough putts and hit a couple of drives off line today," Cantlay, a Southern California native, said. "Felt comfortable, just didn’t get anything going."
Five-time major-winner Phil Mickelson, chasing a first title since his 2013 British Open triumph, briefly pulled within one shot of the lead before settling for a 68 that saw him head a group on 276 that also included Australian Cameron Smith (71) and Canadian Adam Hadwin (66). — AFP