Watson keeps Scott at bay to claim Northern Trust
Bubba Watson secured his first PGA Tour win of 2016 with a one-shot victory at the Northern Trust Open in California.
The two-time Masters winner, who held the overnight lead, claimed victory thanks to back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th which put him ahead of clubhouse leader Aussie Adam Scott and Jason Kokrak on 15-under.
“The highlight is definitely winning,” said Watson. “For me to come back…and pull one out in a tough way means a lot.”
“When you come to Hollywood, there’s a lot of things you can do. It’s fun. And winning is the cake.”
Watson, who closed with a 3-under 68, won at Riviera for the second time in three years and moved back to No. 4 in the world.
Scott’s efforts at Riviera moves him up from 19th to No.13 in the world rankings.
Scott putted superbly over the opening six holes with a short putter after the anchoring ban caused him to abandon the long broomstick he used since 2011. A double bogey at the eighth and two more three-putt bogeys on the homeward nine took the wind out of Scott’s sails and it ultimately cost him the tournament.
Since using the short stick, considerable focus has been on whether Scott would make the transition smoothly. A birdie on the 11th saw Scott take the lead before some putting woes again started at the 14th when, facing an 18-foot birdie putt, he three-putted for bogey.
A par miss from inside five-feet on the next hole again damaged his chances before birdies on the final two holes, including a chip in from behind the green on the last momentarily put him in a tie for the lead until Watson made his birdie on the 17th.
“I missed a couple today but I’m sure heaps of people missed a couple today,” said Scott.
“A guy like Bubba, he’s very tough to beat,” said Scott. “I’m disappointed but I ended up one back. There wasn’t a lot in it. I played a good round of golf around a pretty demanding course again today.”
Scott is adamant his putting is not a weakness and has ambitions of repeating his 2004 stats when he was the best on tour. His current stats support his belief. After eight events around the world since switching back to the short putter Scott has secured six top-10 finishes, including three runner-up finishes.
Marc Leishman got within one of the lead early on the back nine but played his last seven holes one over to finish at 12 under in a tie for fifth. Aaron Baddeley and Stuart Appleby finished in a tie for 26th at 5-under while Cameron Smith and Rhein Gibson finished well down the leaderboard.