It seems like just yesterday we were wishing away the holidays and watching the PGA Tour tee it up in Hawaii — but, with the culmination of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club, we are through the west coast swing on to Florida — less than 50 days from the Masters and the offical-unofficial start of Spring.
For the first time in just over two years, Bubba Watson is a winner on the PGA Tour. His two-shot win on Sunday at the Genesis Open was the 10th of his career and the third in this event.
Love him or hate him, the win for Watson puts him in select company and, probably, a future World Golf Hall of Famer. Despite his past comments about retiring when he gets to 10 career wins, his critics will be sad to know Bubba isn’t going anywhere.
While Watson seemed to be in control most of the week, there were a couple guys breathing down his neck, attempting to make a tournament of it on the back nine on Sunday. Unfortunately for them — and my fantasy lineup — none of those runs ever really materialized.
Here’s a look at those who paid fantasy dividends and those who left owners like you and I reeling:
Bubba Watson — I’ll be honest — I didn’t see this one coming. Bubba Watson’s third career win in the Genesis Open may have been the biggest non-major win of his career — and I should’ve seen it coming. Watson had shown flashes of the brilliance that made him a two-time Masters champion and, now, a 10-time PGA Tour winner in the last couple weeks but was never quite able to finish it off. Last week in LA, Watson did just that. His two-shot victory, punctuated by an impressive Sunday-69 never seemed to be in doubt.
Tony Finau — The guy I had money on and who had me cursing up a storm on Sunday was Tony Finau. The anchor of my fantasy roster, Finau played some of his best golf of the year at Riviera, but failed to pour it on on Sunday, settling for a T-2 finish after rounds of 66-71-68-69. Finau seems to be rounding into form and is to be trusted going forward. I expect this week to catapult him to the career-year I predicted in January.
Patrick Cantlay — Another one of my fantasy favorites for the 2018 season, Patrick Cantlay almost notched his second career PGA Tour win — and second win of the season — but fell just shy after mustering just an even-par 71 on Sunday. Cantlay, who when to bed just one shot off the lead Saturday night, finished three shots back of Bubba in a tie for fourth. Cantlay deserves your attention week in, week out. His T-4 at the Genesis Open was already his fourth top-25 of the campaign.
Graeme McDowell — I’m not sure I was looking forward to watching someone not on my fantasy team pick up a win than I was watching Graeme McDowell on Sunday. Unfortunately, my desire to see him win was not enough to make it so. McDowell, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2015 OHL Mayakoba Classic, began the day at 8-under for the event, just two shots off the lead. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily on Sunday, scuffling his way to a round of 77 and a T-26 finish.
Sam Saunders — For Sam Saunders, the week at Riviera can be described as a tale of two rounds. On Thursday and Friday, Saunders looked stout — perhaps even on the way to his first career PGA Tour win — after rounds of 67 and 69. Then the weekend happened. After sitting a 6-under through 36 holes, Saunders failed to break par (or 70) on Saturday and Sunday with rounds of 72 and 74, relegating him to 2-under for the tourney, and a T-26 finish.
Tiger Woods — I’m not going to get all up about Tiger Woods missing a cut, but hey — the name gets page views and everyone out there either wants to read Tiger praise or Tiger hate. That’s why he’s here. To call his missed cut at Riviera a setback would be giving too much credit to the result of just his second full-field start in his latest comeback. The fact of the matter is, he still showed bursts of brilliance and I wouldn’t be too worried about the result. Keep him on your bench for now, but keep watching.
Ted Potter, Jr. — Despite my warnings, many still took Ted Potter, Jr., for their fantasy rosters last week. Boy, did they pay the price. Potter, who won two Sundays ago at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in stunning fashion over Dustin Johnson, came out stumbling at Riviera opening with a Thursday 76. His Friday 72 wasn’t enough to make the cut, and he was sent packing early at 6-over. Potter’s story was great — but his fantasy prospects aren’t. Bury this guy until further notice.