The first three days of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship presented an energy-efficient event — high quality, low electricity.
Then, during Sunday’s final round, in order: Donald Trump showed up. Rory McIlroy shut down. Adam Scott stepped up — from six shots off the lead with 13 holes remaining.
And with one-name fan favorites Phil and Bubba near the leaderboard’s peak, Trump National Doral crackled until Scott’s dramatic up-and-down for par on the Blue Monster’s vicious 18th hole gave him a one-shot win over Bubba Watson. Scott’s 12-under-par 276 total ended with six birdies and seven pars in the final 13 holes of a 3-under 69 final round.
Watson’s 4-under 68 put him in the lead for a few holes before ending at 11-under 275. Danny Willett and McIlroy tied for third at 10-under 278. Phil Mickelson finished at 9-under 279 after being tied for the lead after nine holes.
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With last week’s win at the Honda Classic, Scott becomes the first to win both events in the same year since Lee Trevino in 1973. Trevino won the Doral-Eastern Open two weeks after winning the Jackie Gleason Inverrary-National Airlines Classic.
“I don’t think I’ve processed what’s happened, especially today’s round,” Scott said. “It was ugly and good, all in 18 holes. But to win a World Golf Championships means a lot to any of us.
“And I’ve been playing here, I feel like, for 12 years, and I’ve played well at times, but never really had a chance to win.”
It didn’t appear Scott had a chance after five holes. After starting the day tied for second with Dustin Johnson three shots behind McIlroy, Scott double bogeyed the watery par-4 No. 3 and the par-4 No. 5.
“I think after the second double bogey, winning was kind of far from the front of my mind,” Scott said. “And at that point, I took a moment to think about kind of just gaining some traction on the round before it slips away and I shoot 80, because it’s possible around this course. To keep missing it like I did in the water, there’s just no escape from it.
“Took a moment to myself on the sixth and figured there were chances downwind a little bit the next few holes that if I could get two birdies by the turn, then not too much damage is done and maybe with a great back nine, I might be in with a chance,” he said.
Scott birdied the par-4 No. 6 and the par-5 No. 8. Meanwhile, McIlroy bogeyed No. 7, saved par on No. 8 after some wetness, then bogeyed the par-3 No. 9.
“I felt like my game was OK for the most part. I didn’t take advantage of the holes I should have,” McIlroy said. “I couldn’t birdie any of the par 5s, and that’s really what killed me [Sunday].”
McIlroy’s troubles left a four-way tie for the lead at 10-under between McIlroy, Watson, Mickelson and Willett. Mickleson, playing with Scott, bogeyed No. 10 while Scott birdied it to get within a shot of the lead.
“And then all of a sudden, I just started getting nice numbers into the greens, and I kind of hit my way to win this tournament,” Scott said. “I hit it close three times on the back nine. I hit a 3-wood on the green and two-putted on 10 and then hit it to four feet or less three other times, and that’s kind of how it all happened. Took a lot of pressure off on some hard holes.”
Asked if he thought he was now the favorite to win the Masters, Scott replied, “No, I think Bubba is.”
Scott’s reasoning concerned how well Augusta National fits Watson’s name. Trend lovers would concur based on the pattern. This is Watson’s third second place at Doral, each coming two years apart (2012, 2014, 2016). After each of the previous two, he won the Masters.
Watson certainly could have won Sunday. The big hitter’s birdie on the par-5, 603-yard 12th moved him to 11-under. But he flew the green into a back bunker on his approach to the par-4 14th, put the chip barely on the green and missed his par putt. In the next group, Scott, tied after a birdie on No. 12, birdied the hole to take a two-shot lead into the last four holes.
That was down to one shot on the 18th when Scott’s drive landed within snuggling distance of a palm tree to the right of the fairway. His second shot found the slope to the left of the green and stayed there instead of dropping into the water (and a probable playoff). He chipped to six feet and made the putt.
“On 18, I hit the shot really solid. I hit it right where I aimed it. I had to aim left and the wind just wasn’t really moving it,” Scott said. “Maybe it was too low, but I hit it really solid. I wasn’t surprised it carried. But I was surprised it stayed up in the hazard. Thank goodness for that.
“When you win after something like that, that’s winner’s luck, really. Those things even out over a long period of time where at some point, I would have hit that shot and it’s bounced back in and you don’t win, and other times it stays up and you do. To take advantage of it feels really good.”
Player; Scores; Par
1. Adam Scott; 68-66-73-69-276; -12
2. Bubba Watson; 69-69-71-68-277; -11
T3. Danny Willett; 68-69-72-69-278; -10
T3. Rory McIlroy; 71-65-68-74-278; -10
5. Phil Mickelson; 67-72-70-70-279; -9
6. Jimmy Walker; 69-72-73-66-280; -8