Pros advice

Bubba’s back with his third win at Riviera

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Bubba Watson had slipped outside the top 100 in the world last year, now he is a three-time winner at Riviera while it was a week to forget for Tiger.

What happened at the Genesis Open?

Bubba Watson joined Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum as the only players to win three PGA Tour titles at Riviera. With wins in 2014 and ’16 we should have seen it coming and he had a holed bunker shot at the 14th (see Moments of the week below) to thank for moving ahead of his closest challengers.

That birdie moved him two clear of the chasing pack of Scott Stallings, Kevin Na, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau. Stallings bogeyed the 18th to end his chances, Na and Finau both birdied 17 to get to double figures but that was matched by Watson.

So the left-hander, who endured a forgettable 2017 (he was as low as 75th on the money list), was left to enjoy the walk up the 18th and a 10th win on the PGA Tour.

In the end Watson (69) parred for an emotional two-shot win over Na and Finau with Cantlay and Stallings in a share of fourth.

Phil Mickelson looked like making a run again with a brilliant up-and-down at 10 before chipping in two holes later but he then fell away with back-to-back bogeys to sign for a 68. Afterwards he said he felt like his game wasn’t quite there all week but that a win might not be too far away and his stats this term certainly back that up – T5 in Phoenix, T2 at Pebble Beach and now T6 here.

Graeme McDowell had played his way into the penultimate threesomel but he went backwards with six bogeys in seven holes from the 9th. His countryman Rory McIlroy enjoyed his best round of the week (68) on Sunday to finish on three under which was helped by an eagle at the opening hole.

And Jordan Spieth’s solid rather spectacular start to the year continued with another top 10.

Talking point

Who else? The good news is we can all obsess about Tiger Woods at this week’s Honda Classic after he confirmed that he would be playing successive weeks since the back end of the 2015 season.

So the fused back is presumably holding up.

“I’m very pleased. I’m very excited about it. I wish I would have two more competitive rounds to head into next week, but that’s not the case. But I get a chance to do some work and I’ll go do some work.”

The reason that Woods had a bit of spare time to himself was because he shot 72-76 to miss the cut by four. And much of that work will likely be spent with the putter where he had three three-putts over his closing nine holes.

Woods said: “Today (Friday) was the first day I felt bad with a putter this year. I didn’t feel very good when I was warming up. The feeling of not feeling very good over my putts finally caught up with me.”

As for the usual suspect, the driver, he managed to find just 13 of 28 fairways after changing his driver to a more ‘stout’ shaft and a bigger head in his TaylorMade M3. At the end of the week he was missing more to the left-hand side.

And there was an even more depressing stat given that he hit only 16/36 greens which represented his worst after two days as a professional.

Playing partner Justin Thomas had this to say about him: “I would say he’s a pretty good way away. He’s obviously not driving it well, he’s not hitting the shots that he wants to. Probably the distance control isn’t quite there.”

Otherwise all good…

The missed cut was just his 17th as a PGA Tour pro in 316 starts.

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