LOS ANGELES • Bubba Watson said he had thoughts of retirement last year but they were put on hold after his two-stroke victory at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles on Sunday.
He holed a bunker shot at the par-three 14th hole for a birdie to set the stage for achieving his career goal of a 10th PGA Tour title. The long-hitting left-hander carded a closing two-under 69 to finish at 12-under 272 for his third victory at Riviera, after previous successes in 2014 and 2016. Fellow Americans Tony Finau (69) and Kevin Na (69) tied for second on 10-under.
Watson revealed that he almost quit golf last year after the stinging disappointment of missing the 2016 United States Ryder Cup team.
He was ranked seventh in the world at the time but suffered from uneven form and was not even considered by captain Davis Love as one of his four wildcard picks for the team that went on to beat Europe at Hazeltine in Minnesota.
He then endured a dismal 2017 campaign, when he struggled with a new ball. "The last year-and-a-half, almost two years give or take, has been a struggle, because I want to be at the top," said Watson, who was ranked 117th when he arrived at Riviera but will move into the top 50 with his latest victory.
"I was top-10 in the world for a few years and so not being there, you feel like is this it, is this my old man moment, where I can't play golf again?"
He added that apart from the downward spiral in results he had been ill last year, but did not disclose what had affected him, while his wife needed surgery.
"To get sick, to lose all this weight... my wife having (leg) surgery, you never know if you're going to make it again," an emotional Watson, 39, said.
He added he had his wife Angie to thank for staying in the sport.
"I was close (to retiring). My wife was not close," he said. "My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf.
"She's much tougher than I am."
Watson can now aim for a third Green Jacket during April's Masters at Augusta National, and reflect on a successful career so far.
"Nobody thought Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida would ever get to 10 wins - without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt," he said. "This day and age, to get 10 wins on the PGA Tour, the greatest Tour in the world, double digit wins, I am thrilled. I never thought I could get there."