The PGA Tour wrapped up its West Coast swing this past Sunday with the conclusion of the Northern Trust Open from Riviera CC in LA. Bubba Watson, who was a previous winner of the Open in LA, found himself 2 strokes behind leader Jason Kokrak with 4 holes to play. Kokrak dropped a shot on the 15th hole and Watson saw his opportunity. He responded by making back-to-back birdies on the par 3 16th and par 5 17th. His 15-under par for the tournament was enough to hold off a surging Adam Scott, who finished one stroke behind Watson. Jason Kokrak held the 36-hole lead for the first time in his PGA Tour career. Unfortunately, he just missed out on recording his first career victory. He still walked away from LA with a cool $600k for his second place finish.
While Watson surged on Sunday to record his second career win at Riviera, other high profile golfers faltered. Rory McIlroy started his final round with a bang on Sunday by recording an eagle 3 at the par 5 first. Unfortunately, McIlroy would lose all his momentum for the rest of the round. He made 7 bogeys over his next 16 holes before finishing his round on a high note with a birdie on 18. McIlroy’s poor play on Sunday can be attributed to his lack of pace on the greens. If he can straighten this out, look to see him in contention this week at the Honda Classic.
Jordan Spieth also had a rough week in LA. Spieth opened the tournament on Thursday with a 79, 8 strokes over par. He rebounded the following day with a more respectable 3-under 68 for the world number one. Spieth plans on taking this week off before starting his run at defending the Masters in April. As for the rough week, I guess a bad week in LA is better than a good weak anywhere else, especially where I am in Rhode Island.
On a final note, one of my favorite players on tour, Steve Stricker finished this week in a tie for 11th at 8-under par. The 49-year-old had surgery in December of 2014 and played sparingly in 2014 while recovering. This year, Stricker feels healthy and refreshed. This week’s finish is a good building block for achieving his ultimate goal of winning again on tour.
The next round of the PGA Tour season kicks off tomorrow from PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The course was redesigned by Jack Nicholas and features a treacherous stretch of holes on the back 9 that have become known as “The Bear Trap.” Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are headlining the star-studded field at the Honda Classic.