February 19, 2018 / 4:08 AM / 4 months ago

Golf: Bubba joins Palmer, Hogan as three-times Los Angeles winner

(Reuters) - Bubba Watson acknowledged he had thoughts of retirement last year after a form slump but they were put on hold after his two-stroke victory at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Feb 18, 2018; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Bubba Watson poses with the championship trophy following the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Watson holed a bunker shot at the 14th hole to set the stage for achieving his career goal of a 10th PGA Tour title.

The long-hitting left-hander carded a closing 69 to finish at 12-under 272 for his third victory at Riviera, after previous successes in 2014 and 2016.

Fellow Americans Tony Finau (69) and Kevin Na (69) tied for second on 10-under.

Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer also won the event, previously known as the Los Angeles Open, three times each.

An emotional Watson revealed that he had considered retiring after a dismal 2017 campaign during which he struggled with a new ball, which he has since discarded, among other issues.

The two-times Masters champion dropped outside the top 100 in the world — 117th when he arrived at Riviera — but will move into the top-50 with his latest victory.

“My goal has always been to get to 10 (wins),” a misty-eyed Watson said in a greenside interview.

Feb 18, 2018; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Bubba Watson hits a shot from the 15th tee box during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

“There so many emotions going through my head right now. You never know if you’re going to play good again, never know if you’re going to lift a trophy again.

“I thought about retirement ... I mentioned it about 10-12 times to my wife. We sat down and had many talks about it because physically I wasn’t ready to play.”

The 39-year-old said he had plenty of other business interests outside golf to keep him busy if he had retired.

Half of Watson’s career wins have come at Augusta National or Riviera, but his chances on Sunday looked tenuous after a mediocre front nine that included three bogeys.

But he steadied his leaky ship with a 10-foot birdie at the par-five 11th, and then took a two-shot lead when his 50-foot bunker shot at the 14th clattered against the pin and dropped in.

With nobody else making a charge on the difficult finishing stretch, Watson only had to avoid any mistakes coming in.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Defending champion Dustin Johnson finished tied for 16th at four-under, a stroke better than four-times major winner Rory McIlroy.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Adelaide, South Australia; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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