For a weekend, anyway, Bubba Golf wasn't a roller coaster of missed fairways and impossibly curved and creative wedge shots. Instead, it was a stunning bogey-free display of fairways, greens and a white-hot putter that would have been the envy of Tiger in his prime. Bubba Watson dismantled the legendary Riviera layout with a weekend 64-64 that featured 14 birdies and no bogeys and ended with his first win since the 2012 Masters. Watson's two-shot win over Dustin Johnson at the Northern Trust Open was the fifth of his career and could get golf's folk hero back onto the short list of Masters favorites.
Over two flawless rounds, Watson showed a well-rounded, consistent game that no one knew he had. In addition to his accustomed position atop the driving distance stats, he was tied for eighth in the field in driving accuracy, second in greens in regulation and tied for eighth in putts per green in regulation. It was enough to hold off a charging Dustin Johnson, who put himself in position for his second win of the season but couldn't apply enough pressure with a par-par-par finish.
"You never know when your last win is going to be," said Watson. "My last win could have been The Masters, which would have been a great way to go out. But winning here at Northern Trust is nice. ... I never looked down, I never felt down that I haven't won yet but just keep plugging along and somehow it fell in my lap today."
Here are the key numbers from a beautiful LA weekend.
39 Watson played the final 39 holes of the Northern Trust Open without a single bogey. He was 14-under par for those 39 holes.
28 Watson's final round 64 was the lowest by a winner of the Northern Trust in 28 years.
318.5 Watson's field-leading driving distance, which allowed him to overpower the par 5s at Riviera and left him with short approaches on the par 4s. He was 8-under on the par 5s for the tournament and 7-under on the par 4s for the final two rounds.
4 Dustin Johnson is 4-for-4 in top-six finishes thus far in the 2013-14 season. He won the WGC-HSBC in November, finished tied for sixth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and has had back-to-back runner-up finishes at Pebble Beach and Riviera.
3 There were three former Georgia Bulldogs in the top 10 at Riviera — Watson, Brian Harman (T3) and Harris English (T10).
The shots of the week included Watson's bunker blast for birdie on the par-3 sixth hole on Sunday, part of a front-nine 30 that allowed him to erase a four-shot deficit.
Sadly, the iconic Eisenhower Pine on the 17th hole at Augusta National fell victim to an ice storm and had to be removed. "The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept," club chairman Billy Payne said. "We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible."