The latest stop on the PGA Tour took us to the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, where Bubba Watson managed to replicate his 2014 score to claim victory in the Northern Trust Open for the second time in his career. It was a very interesting tournament for fans to follow, with a very close finish that could have gone a number of different ways.
Jason Scott and Adam Kokrak were also in contention for victory at various points throughout the day, while star player and world number 3 Rory McIlroy had a very rough Sunday, finishing with a relatively miserable score that saw him tie for 20th.
Watson Rebounds from Phoenix Open
This victory was an important one for Bubba, who has been going through a difficult time of late after his comments regarding the TPS Scottsdale course, used recently for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The sporting press put a lot of emphasis on the American’s alleged dislike of the course, leading to fans jeering him during the Phoenix event.
Still, Watson has been in the game long enough to recover from such an ordeal and proved his mental strength and perseverance by earning this impressive win. The 37-year old revealed his delight at claiming the title, saying that he always enjoys visiting this particular course.
Adam Scott Shows Well
Clearly, things worked out nicely for Watson in the end, but the tournament could have gone in a very different direction. It was Adam Scott who got off to the best start, sinking an eagle on the very first hole and an excellent birdie on the sixth, giving him a fine score of -15.
At the time, Scott was in the lead, a single stroke ahead of K.J. Choi. The Australian famously won this event when it was known as the Nissan Open back in 2005, but rain shortened play to just 36 holes, preventing Scott from being granted an official PGA Tour win.
After the tournament, Scott admitted he was eager to earn a ‘real’ title on the course, but conceded that Bubba was a difficult opponent. The Australian put on an impressive performance, but he made a couple of errors on the 8th and 14th holes of the fourth round. He still managed to attempt an exciting comeback, getting to within a single stroke of Watson on the final hole.
Unfortunately for the Adelaide-born golfer, his last-minute efforts weren’t good enough as Bubba kept his cool to nab a simple par and win the trophy. Credit still needs to be given to Scott, who showed some real improvements in his putting in particular, and the player himself confirmed that his future is looking bright.
Jason Kokrak also played well and finished the weekend tied for second place with Scott. The 30-year old American was in the lead for most of the final day after a good performance on the first few holes. However, he really struggled on the 15th, where a three-putt bogey quickly cut into his lead.
A poor drive left him in a bad position on the 17th, and he was unable to force the playoff as Bubba finished strongly. Kokrak is still waiting for his first win on the PGA Tour, but he gave a strong account of himself at this year’s edition of the Northern Trust Open.
Rory McIlroy Contends but Implodes on Sunday
Meanwhile, the highest ranked player to feature at the event, Rory McIlroy, started strongly but quickly faded away as the event went on. The Northern Irishman hit a very impressive eagle on the first hole, but that turned out to be the sole highlight of his performance. He was 6 over par for the rest of the course and finished tied for 20th.
It was McIlroy’s first appearance at Riviera, and the 26-year old superstar wasn’t too happy with his performance on the final day, especially after playing well in the first few rounds.
Still, this event was all about Bubba. He’s always been one of the sport’s most talked-about figures, but was really cast in a bad light after his comments ahead of the Phoenix Open. In post-tournament interviews, Watson sought to address the matter, stating that the press had taken his quotes out of context and given him an image that he didn’t deserve. He revealed that his comments of distaste were purely in regard to the layout of the course, rather than the fans or the event itself.
The Florida-born player added that the whole event had affected him in quite a negative way. He revealed that the experience was ‘heartbreaking’ and expressed his anger, but also commented that he needed to move on and get over the whole ordeal. He says he hopes to be more accurate in his interview responses in the future, to prevent anything like that from every happening again.
Either way, after a brilliant performance at the Northern Trust Open and another trophy to his name, we can be sure that he’s making the headlines for all the right reasons now.