Australian Adam Scott won the Genesis Invitational on Sunday at the Riviera Country Club, earning $1,674,000, a Genesis SUV EV80 and a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
When the day started, Scott, Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy were tied for the lead at 10-under, and they were the last threesome to tee off.
McIlroy fell out of contention with a triple bogey on the fifth hole and a bogey on six. He birdied 11 and 18, but finished with a 73 and tied for fifth.
Scott bogeyed the fourth hole and then double bogeyed the fifth, but rebounded with a clutch birdie on six.
After the round, reporters asked Scott about the fourth and fifth holes.
“You have to take away the big mistakes. It could have slipped away, but it’s in those moments where you just have to kind of cliché everything and get back in your process or stay in the moment and just do what’s been working well,” Scott said. “It’s not time to kind of get flustered and try something new on the sixth hole of the final round. I just tried to do what I had done all week on the next swing and made a good swing and made a good putt.”
Scott was 10-under for the tournament when he teed off on 17, one stroke ahead of Sung Kang and Scott Brown, who had finished their rounds, and Kuchar. It was a tight contest and fans were eager to see if Scott could hold his lead.
Scott proceeded to birdie 17 and closed with an easy par to win by two strokes with rounds of 72-64-67-70. He singled out the defining moment.
“The shot that made the difference was deciding to flop the second chip on 15 after I was plugged into the bunker. I kind of knifed it across the green,” he said. “It was horrible position. I stood there and I wanted to bump it into the fringe, but realistically it was going to be 45 feet past, and I thought, ‘Well, you can maybe win the tournament if you hit a great flop shot here, so I thought I might as well just go for it.’
“I had a little bit of that kind of mindset, not just today, but the whole week of not careless, but ‘what have I got to lose’ kind of thing going,’ to give myself a good chance to get back in the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour,” he said. “So that shot stood out for me.”
This was Scott’s 14th TOUR victory and his first in 74 starts. He won the Genesis (then called the Northern Trust) in 2005, but because the event was shortened to 36 holes due to rain, it was not recognized as an official victory. He was the runner-up in 2006 and 2016.
“When I chat about my feelings when I play with my coach, we often talk about just letting go a little bit,” Scott said. “I mean, at times I feel like I’m too loose on some shots, but then there are other moments when I play a little too conservative all the time. It’s a find balance playing down the stretch in contention and finding the right place. It was fairly clear to me at that moment, my first thought it was bump it in, it’s safe but I’ll probably make a double. Then I thought I really want to win this and maybe this shot can do it, and I hit a really great shot. It was quite fun.”
Kuchar said, “It was a hard day out there. There are weeks where you really have it, you’re in control and you think the game’s easy. The game was not easy this week.”
Many of the golfers said the pin locations were difficult. “It [the course] played hard,” Kuchar said. “It was a great test.”
The low round of the day was only 68, three under. “It’s cool with a bunched-up leaderboard, you shoot 1, 2, 3 under par, you feel like you can really make up some ground,” Kuchar said. “Yeah, it was fun. It was exciting out there and it was fun to be part of that last group.”
“Honestly I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it was,” said McIlroy, who retained his world No. 1 ranking. “But everyone was finding it tough out there. Adam played great, couple really good up-and-downs and the birdie on 17 sort of sealed the deal for him.”
Tiger Woods, the tournament host, made the cut but struggled his last two days and ended in last place. “I did not do much well today,” he said. “Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways.”
He was asked if this stage in his career made him more retrospective about where he finished.
“This part of my career really didn’t exist a few years ago, so to be able to do that no matter what I shoot, it’s still disappointing, it’s still frustrating,” Woods said. “But I also look at it from a perspective which I didn’t do most of my career, that I’m going to – I have a chance to play going down the road. A few years ago that wasn’t the case.”
At the awards ceremony, Woods thanked the fans, the volunteers, the players, Genesis and the Riviera officials and crew. “We couldn’t have asked for a better dream scenario,” he said.