Bubba Watson lost track of time. He didn’t realize it had been nearly two years and 41 tournaments since his last victory.
A reminder came Sunday afternoon, after he birdied the 18th hole to win the Northern Trust Open by two shots. Walking up the steps to the clubhouse he saw his son, Caleb, who was adopted shortly before Watson won the 2012 Masters.
Watson was alone in his green jacket that day. This time, wife and son were at Riviera to watch a masterpiece.
He played the final 39 holes without a bogey. He had a 64-64 weekend. He made up a four-shot deficit in six holes, and closed with the lowest round by a winner of this tournament in 28 years.
This wasn’t “Bubba” golf. It simply was great golf. And he couldn’t wait to celebrate.
“When I won the Masters, it was just me,” Watson said. “Family members were there, but not my wife and not my son, who was just adopted at that point, and now is two weeks away from being 2 years old. What a thrill. We’ll have some pictures with him and my wife and the trophy, so it’s nice.”
Watson won by two shots over Dustin Johnson, who closed with a 66 for the second straight week and got the same result — second place. Johnson finished one shot behind Jimmy Walker last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“When you shoot 14 under on the weekend, it’s tough to beat that,” Johnson said.
Watson, who started the final round four shots behind William McGirt, made up ground so quickly that he broke out of a four-way tie for the lead with a birdie on the eighth hole and made the turn in 30. Equally critical were a pair of par saves with 7-foot putts on the 12th and 13th holes.
It was quite a turnaround from his last event, the Phoenix Open, where Watson made two late bogeys and finished one shot behind Kevin Stadler.
Presented another chance, he wasn’t about to let this one get away.
Watson finished at 15-under 269.