Watson ends two-year winless drought at Riviera
LOS ANGELES — Bubba Watson 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 to win the Northern Trust Open by two shots. Walking up the steps to the clubhouse he saw his son, Caleb, who was adopted shortly before Watson won the 2012 Masters.
Watson was alone in his green jacket that day. This time, wife and son were at Riviera to watch a masterpiece.
He played the final 39 holes without a bogey. He had a 64-64 weekend. He made up a four-shot deficit in six holes, and closed with the lowest round by a winner of this tournament in 28 years.
This wasn't "Bubba" golf. It simply was great golf. And he couldn't wait to celebrate.
"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 won by two shots over Dustin Johnson, who closed with a 66 for the second straight week and got the same result — second place. Johnson finished one shot behind Jimmy Walker last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"When you shoot 14 under on the weekend, it's tough to beat that," Johnson said.
Watson, who started the final round four shots behind William McGirt, made up ground so quickly that he broke out of a four-way tie for the lead with a birdie on the eighth hole and made the turn in 30. Equally critical were a pair of par saves with 7-foot putts on the 12th and 13th holes.
It was quite a turnaround from his last event, the Phoenix Open, where Watson made two late bogeys and finished one shot behind Kevin Stadler.
Presented another chance, he wasn't about to let this one get away.
Watson finished at 15-under 269, and he wasn't the only big winner.
Ashland native Jason Allred played bogey-free for a 68 and tied for third with Brian Harman, who also had a 68.
Watson won for the fifth time in his career, and he had to earn it. With no margin for error over the closing holes, he managed to get out of a deep fairway bunker on the 15th hole to the front edge of the green. He smartly played to the middle of the green on the par-3 16th hole for a par. Facing the uphill tee shot on the 18th, he blasted his drive down the middle of the fairway and hit wedge into 15 feet to the right of the pin.
Johnson, meanwhile, now has finished among the top six in all four tournaments this season — including a win in Shanghai and consecutive runner-up finishes. His other start was at Kapalua, where he tied for sixth.
"I had a chance there on the back nine, I just didn't have good looks on 16, 17 and 18 to give myself a chance," he said. "I was still right there. That's all you can ask for."
McGirt, who had a two-shot lead to start the final round as he tried to win for the first time, opened with a birdie and stalled after that. And on yet another gorgeous day at Riviera, this was not a day to stall.
The pack behind took aim and made birdies, particularly Watson.
Watson hit a perfect tee shot on the par-3 fourth that rode the slope to 15 feet for birdie. He holed a bunker shot from left of the sixth green for birdie. And a 15-footer on the eighth gave Watson his fifth birdie of the round, and the outright lead. He never gave it back.
McGirt closed with a 73 and tied for sixth.
Jordan Spieth, one shot out of the lead through seven holes, had four bogeys on the back nine and shot 71 to tie for 12th. Jimmy Walker, a three-time winner this season, closed with a 73 and tied for 20th.
"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."
Women's Australian Open
At Melbourne, Australia, Australia's Karrie Webb won the Women's Australian Open for the record fifth time, shooting a 4-under 68 to beat South Africa's Chella Choi by a stroke.
Webb birdied the 18th hole, then watched as Choi, who shot a course-record 62 on Saturday, push her 10-foot putt wide at 18 to miss a chance for a playoff.
The 39-year-old Webb finished at 12-under 276 at Victoria Golf Club for her 40th LPGA Tour title. The Hall of Famer also won the event in 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2008.
She won a week after being disqualified from the Australian Ladies Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard after the second round.
Choi closed with a 74. Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko had a 73 to tie for third at 10 under with Paula Creamer (68) and Karine Icher (71).
Ace Group Classic
At Naples, Fla., Kirk Triplett won the ACE Group Classic for his third Champions Tour title, holing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory.
The 51-year-old Triplett shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 16-under 200 on TwinEagles' Talon Course. He won the 50-and-over tour's Pebble Beach event the last two years after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer, Duffy Waldorf and Olin Browne tied for second. Playing in the final threesome, Triplett, Langer and Waldorf were tied for the lead with a hole to play.
On the par-4 18th, Waldorf drove into a bunker and wound up with a bogey for a 66. Langer's second shot sailed left, and his 12-footer for par curled around the cup for bogey and a 67.
Triplett's second shot from a divot landed about 25 feet from the pin. His birdie putt went past the hole and he made the 6-footer for the victory.
At Bogota, Colombia, Alex Cejka won the Web.com Tour's season-opening Colombia Championship, breaking the course record with an 8-under 63 in the completion of the third round before rain washed out play.
The 43-year-old Czech-born German played the final 16 holes of the third round Sunday morning at water-logged Bogota Country Club, birdieing four of the last five holes to reach 14-under 199.
Cejka was halfway through the final round when play was suspended and the round wiped out. At the time, he had a one-stroke lead over Andrew Putnam.
Putnam ended up three strokes back after a third-round 68. Mexico's Carlos Ortiz was third at 10 under after a 67, and Bill Lunde followed at 9 under after a 70.
At East London, South Africa, South Africa's Thomas Aiken won the Africa Open, beating England's Oliver Fisher with a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.
Aiken finished with a 5-under 67 to match Fisher (69) at 24-under 264. Aiken won his third European Tour title and gave South Africa its 36th victory in 58 tour events in the country.
American John Hahn (68) and England's David Horsey (65) tied for third, a stroke back.