5 Things: Watson wins; D.J. close; more
Consecutive 64s let Bubba Watson hoist the Northern Trust trophy for the first time since putting on the green jacket after his 2012 Masters win.
One-under-par at the halfway point and eight shots off the lead of Sang-Moon Bae, Watson was tied for 40th with 13 other players including Pat Perez, Ernie Els and Kevin Streelman.
Starting on the back nine in Saturday’s third round, Watson would make 14 birdies on the weekend with no bogeys to finish 15 under for a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson.
Monday qualifier Jason Allred finished tied for third with Brian Harman. Charl Schwartzel was solo fifth, with Bryce Molder, Matt Every, third-round leader William McGirt and George McNeill tied for sixth at 10-under-par.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Riviera.
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1. VERY IMPRESSIVE: Bubba Watson has been in the position to win since the Masters, but he hadn’t. The reasons are varied, but the end result was that in the last 37 events he has not hoisted a trophy.
“I'm not thinking about the bad swings,” Watson said of a new attitude he is employing this year. “I'm not thinking about the bad chips or missed putts. I bogeyed the last hole two weeks ago to lose. He probably could have beaten me in a playoff, as well, if I made the putt. But I lost and I come in here, hit a good wedge and somehow made the putt to win.”
To solidify the point, Watson started Thursday’s first round on the back nine double-bogey, birdie, double-bogey – 3 over through the first three holes – and finished with a 1-under 70.
“I just kept my head down,” Watson said, explaining how he dealt with the first round. “I'm trying to get better, trying to get better focused, trying to get better each shot, and that's what I did. I just stayed with it and grinded out 1 under par that first round. Hit it better the second round and shot worse.”
Watson admitted his first round was even better than either of his 64s over the weekend – and why he got over the hump after Thursday’s first round is directly connected to his relationship with caddie Ted Scott.
“He's always telling me how good I am,” Watson said of caddie Ted Scott. “I have the ability to play golf, I have the ability to play on the PGA Tour, I have the ability to win at any moment, and he goes, 'You can win in many ways. You can win by hitting it crooked and getting out of trouble or you can win by hitting fairways.' He said, 'Look, this golf course is a tough golf course, just stay with it.' And that's what I did, after 3 over through three.”
So according to Watson, this win is not only his but Scott's as well.
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CHRISTMAS IN FEBRUARY: Jason Allred has never finished in the top-10 on at a PGA Tour event, his best finish was a T-14 at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson in 2006.
Allred earned $52,500 that week and his career earnings were $352,918 before Sunday.
That resume changed considerably on Sunday after Allred shot a final round 3-under, 68 and tied for third.
More importantly the Pepperdine graduate earned $388,600 and a spot in the Honda Classic field in two weeks at PGA National.
“I'm certainly a work‑in‑progress, but just to feel some growth in that area has been so rewarding for me,” Allred said of his recent transformation. “I love this game, trust me, I have big dreams still, but we have two amazing kids at home and an amazing wife and our third child is due in a week and a half.”
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WHERE HAS HE BEEN: South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel last played on the PGA Tour at he Tour Championship at the end of the 2013 season.
Early this week, his return was marred by discomfort in his left pinky that forced him out of the pro-am. But when the gun sounded Thursday, Schwartzel was ready to go – shooting four rounds in the 60’s including consecutive 69s on the weekend to finish fifth. His best finish on the PGA Tour since last May was a third at the HP Byron Nelson.
“I'm disappointed, a bit of mixed feelings,” Schwartzel said after his second consecutive top-five finish in Los Angeles. “I felt like through nine holes, I was playing really well and giving myself a pretty decent chance. Then a bit of a lack of concentration on No. 11; three‑putted from nowhere and I think that sort of put a brake to it."
Schwartzel said he was not comfortable with his last start in South Africa and spent time with his father working on a couple things in his swing, which clearly paid off this week.
The next stop for Schwartzel is next week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play outside of Tucson.
“I am excited going forward,” Schwartzel said. “The Match Play is a format that's a little unpredictable in a way, but try to keep doing what I'm doing, keep hitting good shots and hopefully I can make it through there.”
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DOESN’T HAPPEN EVERY WEEK: Jimmy Walker has won three times during the 2014 PGA Tour season, including last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Walker was in position Sunday morning sitting at 8 under, four shots off McGirt’s lead. But of all the players on the leaderboard – Walker, McGirt and Beljan – shot over-par Sunday, with 1-over 73s.
“I just hit a couple of bad shots and then I just couldn't get it where I wanted it to go; three‑putt for par on 11 was tough,” Walker said dissecting the final round. “I had a good look on nine, good look on seven that didn't go. So it was just kind of one of those things. If one of those would have gone, it could have been a momentum boost or something, but just nothing was happening.”
Now Walker travels to Tucson to play in the Match Play for the first time. After three wins this year, Walker feels confident next week, no matter what happened Sunday.
“You just play one guy a day, and that's it,” Walker said. “Doesn't really matter what the golf course is like, you just go out and play that guy . . . it'll be different.”
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SHORT SHOTS: Dustin Johnson has shot at least one 66 in his first three events of the PGA Tour season, including in Sunday’s final round. . . . Tweeted Johnson after his round, via @DJohnsonPGA: "So close again!!! Proud of my play @NTrustOpen with good vibes going into the #WGC!! Congratulations to my buddy @bubbawatson!." . . . Watson's win pushes him to No. 5 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 14 in the OWGR. . . . Statistically, Watson was ranked first in driving distance at 298.7 yards for the week; first in putts made; 19th in strokes gained putting; eighth in fairways hit, at 62.5 percent; and third in greens in regulation at 70.8 percent. . . . Jordan Spieth endured a rough stretch on the back nine to finish T-12 at 8 under, slipping six spots Sunday. He tweeted via @JordanSpieth: "Tough finish but awesome week at the Riv. Getting really close and feel great on the course. Just waiting for everything to click at once" . . . Harris English and Brendan Steele finished T-10 at 9 under. . . . Third-round leader William McGirt failed to hold onto his first-ever 54-hole lead, finishing T-6.