NASSAU (Bahamas) • American golfer Bubba Watson cruised to a three-shot victory at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Sunday and wasted little time paying tribute to tournament host Tiger Woods.
Two-time Masters champion Watson was in control throughout the final round, shooting a six-under 66 to finish at 25-under 263, three clear of fellow American Patrick Reed (66).
Starting with a two-shot buffer, Watson claimed control with four birdies in his opening seven holes at Albany Golf Club in New Providence before adding three more early on the back nine.
A final-hole bogey was his only blemish as he claimed the US$3.5 million (S$4.9 million) event, which comprised an exclusive 18-man field, and offered world ranking points, though it is not an official PGA Tour event.
Woods was unable to play because of recent back surgery but he was on site to watch the action.
"It means a lot," Watson told reporters as he spoke glowingly of 14-time Major champion Woods.
"He's the guy I looked up to, he's the guy I wanted to be like. How do you not want to be a champion like him when it comes to golf?"
In the field as a late addition after Australian Jason Day withdrew, Watson made the most of relatively benign conditions throughout the tournament, overpowering a course usually protected by brisk winds. While his length off the tee was an obvious boon, the 37-year-old claimed it was his work on the greens he had to thank.
"I just think it's putting," the world No. 4 said.
Rickie Fowler (64) finished third at 21-under, with world No. 1 and defending champion Jordan Spieth (67) left to settle for fourth place, five shots back.
Spieth had no complaints about how he ended his stellar calendar year during which he claimed five wins, including the Masters, US Open, Tour Championship and the season-long FedExCup.
"There is no disappointment," he told reporters. "I obviously had to shoot more than nine-under on the weekend and hats off to a great champion in Bubba but I am certainly pleased with how we finished off the year."