Saturday, June 23, 2018

Watson ends slump with win at Northern Trust Open

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 superb performance.

He played the final 39 holes without 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.

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 finished at 15-under 269 and won by two shots over Dustin Johnson, who closed with 66 for the second straight week and got the same result: second place. Johnson finished one shot behind Jimmy Walker last week at the 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 behind William McGirt, made up ground so quickly that he broke out of a four-way tie for the lead with birdie on the eighth hole and made the turn in 30. Equally critical were par saves with 7-foot putts on 12 and 13.

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.

Jason Allred, who went to college up the coast at Pepperdine, played bogey-free for 68 and tied for third with Brian Harman. Allred was a Monday qualifier, and this was his first regular PGA Tour event since he last had his card in 2008.

CHAMPIONS: Kirk Triplett won the ACE Group Classic in Naples for his third tour title, holing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory. Triplett shot 6-under 66 to finish at 16-under 200 on TwinEagles' Talon Course.

LPGA: Karrie Webb won the Women's Australian Open in Melbourne for the fifth time, shooting 4-under 68 in the final round to beat Chella Choi by one stroke. Webb, who clinched her 40th tour title, finished at 12-under 276. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (74) finished at 2-over 290.

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