Bubba wins again at Riviera

Bubba Watson emerged from a pack of challengers to win at Riviera Country Club for the second time in three years, but it wasn’t as easy this time.

Watson rolled in birdie putts of five feet on the 16th hole and three feet on the 17th hole en route to a 3-under-par 68 that gave him a one-stroke victory over Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott of Australia in the Northern Trust Open.

Two years ago, he played the weekend in 64-64 to win by two shots.

“It means a lot because you never know when your last one is going to be,” said Watson, who claimed his ninth PGA Tour victory. “You don’t know if your last one is going to be the last one. It’s nice to pull out a tough one. It’s special for me and my family.

“It’s all about the mind and I’ve been working on that, trying to stay patient. My caddie, Teddy (Scott), has been in my ear. I think I’m going in the right direction.”

Scott, seeking his first victory since the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, sank a 36-foot eagle putt on the first hole and birdied the last two, including a chip-in from behind the 18th green that capped a second straight 67.

However, he was doomed by a double bogey-6 on the eighth hole and bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes.

“It’s exciting to be in that position … certainly to make birdies on the last two holes,” said Scott, who is making progress in his switch back to the short putter after anchored putters were banned.

“That was a surprising birdie on 18, but I wish I had finished one or two better. (Bubba) obviously played well.”

Kokrak, trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour after two victories in 2011 on what now is the Web.com Tour, finished with a 68, but his only bogey on the 15th hole proved to be costly. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff.

Dustin Johnson, who finished second in each of the last two years at Riviera, closed with a 69 to wind up two strokes back in solo fourth, while Marc Leishman of Australia and K.J. Choi of South Africa both shot 69 to wind up another shot behind in a tie for fifth.

Chez Reavie carded a 71 and was four strokes behind in solo seventh, while Matt Kuchar posted a bogey-free 67 to tie for eighth with Sung Kang of South Korea, whose 68 was highlighted when he hit his approach from 268 yards to within 12 inches for an eagle on the 17th hole.

Ryan Moore aced the 16th hole from 163 yards on his way to a 69 that left him five shots back in solo 10th.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, playing at Riviera for the first time, started the final round in a tie for fifth and sank a 23-foot eagle putt on the first hole, but struggled the rest of the way to a 75 and skidded to a tie for 20th.

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