After Further Review: Bubba's back after NTO win

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Bubba Watson's colorful personality, why he's a favorite for the Masters, Sunday's great finish at the Northern Trust Open and the secret to Riviera's greatness.

“The whole year is about rejoicing,” Bubba Watson said late Sunday afternoon. “I’m thinking about how blessed I am to be playing on the PGA Tour.”

Apparently, Bubba forgot the guiding principles for his 2014 when he barked at cellphone-wielding spectators lurking behind tee boxes and fairway rope lines at Riviera.

The emotional and tender Bubba – the guy who chokes up when talking about his wife and young son – is so at odds with the angry and agitated Bubba, the one who occasionally surfaces in stressful situations on the PGA Tour. It stands to reason, then, that many fans can’t decide whether to love or loathe his split personality, but the reality is this: When Bubba wins, so does the PGA Tour. He remains the game’s ultimate character. – Ryan Lavner

Bubba Watson should be one of the early favorites going to the Masters – if not the favorite.

Watson’s victory Sunday at the Northern Trust Open was impressive in how he dissected historic Riviera. He didn’t just overpower this classic layout, which was set up firmer and faster than long-time observers have ever seen it.

Watson led the field in driving distance, but he was also eighth in driving accuracy. His towering iron shots helped him finish third in greens in regulation. He was seventh in total putting on Riviera's slick greens.

That’s a terrific formula to win at Augusta National. Watson’s game looked dialed in perfectly to help him make a run at winning another green jacket. Now, if he can just keep his game dialed in for another eight weeks. – Randall Mell

Great finish, great golf course, good field.

In the ultimate analysis of this week’s Northern Trust Open, one is saddled with the unmistakable reality that everything about Los Angeles’ annual PGA Tour stop is top notch other than the tee sheet.

And this just isn’t about Tiger Woods’ yearly pass on his hometown event. Although the world No. 1 has not played the Northern Trust Open since 2006, the same could be said for Phil Mickelson, who passed on the event for the first time since ’06, and world No. 2 Adam Scott, and No. 3 Henrik Stenson. You get the idea. The point is Los Angeles deserves better. – Rex Hoggard

There are plenty of ways to rate a course as “great,” but my personal checklist begins with its inclusionary characteristics.

When a tournament is held there, does it offer a level playing field for all types of competitors? In other words, can anyone win there?

At Riviera this weekend, the list of contenders included Masters champions and a Monday qualifier, phenoms and journeymen, big bombers and peashooters, drawers and faders, ball-strikers and rock-rollers.

It was like the Statue of Liberty of golf tournaments: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...”

Not many tracks can be this democratic, instead offering better chances to a single category of player. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the leaderboard at Riviera once again proved that the venerable course is among the best of the bunch on the PGA Tour schedule. – Jason Sobel

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.