There are moments during a tournament when you know it’s going to be your week. For Bubba Watson, one of those came on Sunday at Riviera Country Club when the two-time winner of the Genesis Open holed out from the bunker on the par-3 14th for a birdie. Coupled with a bogey from playing partner Patrick Cantlay, it pushed Watson to a two-stroke lead, which he hung on to after finishing with a two-under 69 to become a three-time winner of the Genesis Open.
OK, so making the shot even more remarkable was that exchange with his caddie Ted Scott. Apparently Watson’s bag man felt karma coming on on this 48-foot, 7-inch shot. Great call, Ted.
More amazing was the fact that the ball went in at all given how Watson’s bunker play had been pretty terrible thus far in 2017-’18. Entering this week's tour stop, Watson ranked a paltry T-185 in proximity from the sand (12 feet, 3 inches) and his sand-save percentage was 43.24 percent, ranking him 154th. This week he wound up ranked 69th in proximity from the sand, even though he averaged worse than his season mark (15 feet, 9 inches). And he was T-24 in sand-save percentage at 50 percent.
The sand play mirror some struggles Watson has had with his short game in general. Watson for the year had a strokes gained/around the green average of -.750, ranking him 213th on tour upon arriving at Riviera. But this week he finished sixth with a 1.084.
Oh, and holing out is a pretty rare feat for Watson. He had only holed out one shot from off the green anywhere in 19 tournament starts this season. In 2016-’17, he only holed five shots from off the green the entire season. And in 2015-’16, he only holed four.