"Hold on a second, my trophy's coming."
On Sunday, a relieved Bubba Watson interrupted his post-tournament press conference at the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif., as the gleaming prize was placed beside him on the table. Though he had to pass a kidney stone earlier in the week, he still managed to rally back on the final day of action to win the tournament for the second time in three years.
In a thrilling final round packed with twists and turns, Watson closed out a one-shot victory over leader Jason Kokrak and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott at Riviera Country Club. Bubba finished with a 15-under 269 total.
"I get a good, excited feeling here," Watson said following his tournament win. "I love coming here, the history of this place."
Though Watson only hit two birdies and a bogey on Sunday's front nine, he managed to rally back late in the day with two birdies in the final three holes to edge out players like Scott and Kokrak, as well as Dustin Johnson and K.J. Choi. Johnson finished fourth with a 13-under 271. Watson birdied the par-3 16th and followed up with another birdie on the par-5 17th to seal the deal.
"I just kept going," Watson said. "I looked at the leaderboard and I saw nobody was running away from it, so I knew that I still had a shot if I could make some good swing and some good putts down the stretch, and somehow it worked out."
This marks Watson's ninth PGA TOUR title. Only Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for 20th with a 6-under 278 after being only four strokes behind on the final day, has won more titles over the past few years. Even Tiger Woods only claimed eight during that six-year period dating back to 2010.
The win was all the more impressive because of Watson's medical concerns earlier in the week, when he passed a kidney stone on Monday, the second time he passed one the week of a tournament.
Six days later, Watson sat at a press conference reflecting on his solid week. The last time Watson won the Northern Trust Open was two years ago, which was also the year he won his second Masters title in Augusta. While his Sunday win is no guarantee he will claim a third Masters title, it certainly sets him up nicely for the exciting months to come.
Though Watson snatched victory from other competitors like Scott by a single stroke, Scott still clearly enjoyed his Sunday finish. The Australian chipped in a birdie on the final hole to the delight of the roaring crowd in attendance. While he only nabbed a runner-up finish, it was an encouraging conclusion to the tournament for a player who was winless on the PGA TOUR since 2014.
"I'm excited about going into the Florida stretch and then getting to Augusta where I feel the greens are really the kind of grass that I like a lot and feel most comfortable on," Scott said at the post-tournament press conference.
Bubba is projected to rise to No. 4 in the world following his come-from-behind victory. Though he planned to send his friend Rickie Fowler a text to inform him that he had surpassed him in the rankings, he instead found himself reflecting on Fowler's inspirational performance at Phoenix recently and how it affects his own golf game.
"Watching him, being a great friend of mine, like my brother, his whole family, that's what's inspiring. If that little kid can do it, I can do it," Watson said. "Just watching everybody, not just [guys of] a certain age. Watching Phil [Mickelson] coming down the stretch, you know, all these things.
"They just inspire us as golfers. If they can do it, gosh, I should be able to do it."