Watson rips Riviera after NBA ribbing

Golfer Bubba Watson blocking a shot by singer Nick Cannon during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in Los Angeles on Friday.
Golfer Bubba Watson blocking a shot by singer Nick Cannon during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in Los Angeles on Friday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LOS ANGELES • Back at the Riviera Country Club after making an appearance in the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday night, Bubba Watson proved how much better he is at his day job.

The American produced his signature moment right out of the gate, his second shot at the par-five first rolled within 18 inches of the pin to give him a tap-in eagle.

He went on to make five birdies in a six-under-par 65 on Saturday to seize a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Genesis Open.

His 10-under total of 203 put him in front of fellow American Patrick Cantlay, who rolled in a 55-foot birdie putt at the 18th to cap a 69.

Australian Cameron Smith (65), Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (70) and Americans Kevin Na (67) and Tony Finau (68) shared third on 205.

"We guessed right on No. 1 today, trying to get the right yardage, the right club for the wind and everything," Watson said.

"It calms you down real fast when you tap in for eagle."

It was the perfect response to the ribbing he received from his peers after his performance for Team Clippers at the Staples Center.

He finished with as many points as he has Major titles (two) - from free throws - and added three rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes.

He also threw up an air ball and had a shot swatted away by retired basketball star Tracy McGrady.

American golfer Daniel Berger tweeted: "@bubbawatson with the airball from just outside the free thrown line... cmon man! Wide open you gotta hit that!"

Added US Open champion Brooks Koepka of Watson getting rejected: "@bubbawatson stuffed!!!!!!!!!! Get outta here"

Watson, whose wife Angie was a professional basketballer, was happy just to still be in contention for a third title at Riviera.

"When I saw him, all I saw was, 'This is my moment to get hurt'," Watson said of McGrady running at him. "This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, 'Just knock it into the stands. Just don't touch me'. So it worked out, he didn't touch me so it was good."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'Watson rips Riviera after NBA ribbing'. Print Edition | Subscribe