Bubba Watson wins at Riviera…again

Bubba taps in for par on 18 to win at Riviera.

Bubba taps in for par on 18 to win at Riviera.

Bubba Watson birdied two of his final three holes at Riviera on Sunday, holding off Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott to win his second Northern Trust Open and ninth career PGA Tour event.

What Happened

Watson entered Sunday with the lead at the Northern Trust Open, but as it always happens at Riviera, the first hole yielded eagles and birdies to pretty much everyone in the field, leading to a situation that gave us the following players tied at the top:

Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson.

Not bad, right? Unfortunately, that didn’t last as Rory blew up, going 7-over par from the 4th to the 16th, leading to a 75 and a T20 finish. Dustin Johnson never really got anything going consistently until the very end, and after a red hot start with the putter, Scott faded as well leaving Bubba to battle with big hitting Jason Kokrak. Kokrak held it together too, taking a two shot lead on the back nine after a birdie on the par-4 13th.

Unfortunately for Kokrak, he bogeyed the par-4 15th and after Watson stuck it close on both 16 and 17 leading to two easy birdies, it was on Kokrak to force a playoff on the 18th hole.

With that miss, Watson was able to two putt for the win to earn his first victory of the 2015-16 season.

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Bubba Watson -15
  • T2. Adam Scott -14
  • T2. Jason Kokrak -14
  • 4. Dustin Johnson -13
  • T5. Marc Leishman -12
  • T5. K.J. Choi -12

What The Win Means For Watson

I mentioned at the top that this is Bubba’s second win at the Northern Trust Open, and what has become perfectly clear over the last few years is that Bubba has become the epitome of the “horse for course” theory. Not only does he have two wins at Riviera, but he’s also done that same thing at the TPC River Highlands where they play the Travelers, and obviously, he has those two green jackets as well. This is by no means a knock on Bubba, as the best players in the world typically have places that they dominate. Tiger is the most famous example of it, as even though he was a threat to win every week he teed it up, there was almost no point in the rest of the field showing up at Torrey Pines, Doral, Firestone or Bay Hill and as it relates to Bubba, there are definitely worst places to dominate than Riviera and Augusta.

Ultimately, what I think this means is that more so than anyone else on the PGA Tour, Bubba Watson is the guy that you hate playing against a few times a year because he might blow you out of the water. On the other hand, he’s still likely the guy that will talk himself out of a great majority of tournaments before he even pegs it on Thursday. That’s not a bad trade off for him, or the other guys on tour. The particulars:

  • Earns $1,224,000 for the win.
  • Picks up 500 FedEx Cup points, moving him from 105th to 11th in the standings.
  • Jumps from sixth to fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings.

One last note on Bubba before we move on: He apparently passed a kidney stone on Monday, and as someone who has grown up with the (potentially irrational) theory that there is nothing I’d like to do less than pass one of those, I just gotta give him credit for doing that, and for those of you who think I’m crazy:

Yeah. Not here for any of that.

Jordan’s Missed Cut

Spieth fires an opening round 79 at Riviera.

Spieth fires an opening round 79 at Riviera.

I won’t spend too much time on this because I don’t think it warrants a ton of attention, but Jordan Spieth’s opening round 79 and subsequent missed cut generated some discussion before the weekend.

Is he tired? Is he having a problem “between the ears” as Tom Kite suggests? I can’t speak to any of that, but what I would say is that Thursday’s round is the perfect example of just how difficult this game can really be, and when you’re even slightly off at a place like Riviera, it’s going to absolutely crush you. The same thing happened to Rory on Sunday. If you’re looking for something to key on, it should probably be the second round 68 when he was nowhere near making the cut.

TV Coverage…again

Just read Tron Carter at No Laying Up. He sums it up perfectly.

Best Moments

Before we get into the best moments of the week, I just wanted to highlight what a joy it is to watch Riviera at all times during the week. There’s no better course on the PGA Tour and it’s great that we’re starting to see the tournament get some new life with commitments from players like Spieth and McIlroy.


Great escape from DJ.

Great escape from DJ.

Bubba on 12.

Bubba on 12.




Jordan drops and catches the club.

Jordan drops and catches the club.

02.19.16 rory club twirl

Two club twirls by Rory.

Two club twirls by Rory.

Jimmy Walker wasn't thrilled with this one.

Jimmy Walker wasn’t thrilled with this one.

Neither was Bubba.

Neither was Bubba.

02.20.16 scott club twirl

Two more twirls from Adam.

Two more twirls from Adam.

Broadcast Moments

This Guy

This guy blocking...absolutely no one from getting near DJ.

This guy blocking…absolutely no one from getting near DJ.

Parting Shots

  • Notables to miss the cut: Danny Lee, Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples, Jordan Spieth and Vaughn Taylor.
  • On Rory vs. Brandel: I’m not going to get on a guy for working out a lot to keep himself in shape. I’m also not going to get on a guy for not working out because really, you gotta do what you think is best for your career and what works for Boo Weekley is not necessarily going to work for Rory.
    • I’m also not going to get on Brandel much for what he said because even though anything he says usually generates attention, I don’t think he said anything that far out of left field. Generally, I think Brandel is a very smart guy but he gets himself in trouble more often than not because he’s relied on to have a take on literally everything that’s going on that even remotely relates to the game. The news cycle that we have, social media included, dictates that people like him have to be “on” at all times and that’s going to lead to things being said that might have previously been kept quiet.
  • Even though he didn’t win, I was really impressed with what Kokrak did over the weekend. He lost the lead on the back nine, but there’s no shame in how he played or who he lost it to.
  • We can talk about how weird it was to see Spieth miss the cut by a mile, but by far the strangest thing of the week was seeing Adam Scott pour in putt after putt in the early going on Sunday. Sure, it went away pretty much right after that, but he’s in that Hideki Matsuyama realm of “if I’m putting well, you’re not going to beat me.”
  • Max Homa went on the No Laying Up podcast earlier in the week, and it’s a great listen on a number of fronts, but there’s something that stuck out to me while watching the broadcast that he mentioned. With Jim Furyk on the shelf with an injury, Fluff is now on the bag of Sung Kang, which isn’t really an out of the ordinary occurrence but that’s when you know that someone really loves their job. Fluff doesn’t have to work another day in his life, and he’s out there looping for a random tour player. Respect that.
  • Listening to Shane Bacon on PGA Tour Live was a real treat. If you haven’t subscribed already, it’s worth your money.

Next Week

It’s the start of the Florida swing, with the Honda Classic and big names are in the field headlined by Rory, Phil Mickelson and Sergio.

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