Adam Scott and Riviera Country Club are a perfect match for one another. The former, a majestic-swinging golfer who somehow never seems to age. The latter, an architecturally-transcendent golf course that, despite 100 years of wear and tear, is still as beautiful and as perfect as ever.
Scott won the 2020 Genesis Invitational at Riviera on Sunday with a final-round 1-under 70 to finish at 11 under, two strokes ahead of Sung Kang, Scott Brown and Matt Kuchar. Scott came into Sunday tied at the top with Rory McIlroy and Kuchar at 10 under, and he was the only one of the three to shoot a score at even-par or better as the field average ballooned to more than a stroke over par.
The defining moment of Scott's day came early, just after he birdied the first and third holes to race out in front. He followed that with a horrid double at the fifth, and the tournament narrative swung wildly. Before that hole, it looked like a two-horse race between Scott and McIlroy. After that? Anything could have happened.
What actually did happen is that Scott went out and made a 2 on the next hole -- the par-3 6th, which was playing to an average over par -- and regained control of the tournament. He somehow never trailed the rest of the way. With all kinds of chaos going on ahead of him (and beside him), Scott stood steady and played the rest of his round following that birdie in 1 under for the victory.
It was an absolute tutorial in how to bounce back from what feels like an early devastating blow.
The unusual part about Scott's day is that he did it mostly with his putter. After two days in which he played his way back into the event with his irons (Scott shot 64-67 after an opening 72), Scott's broomstick sealed the deal, nearly officially so when he made a 11-footer for birdie at the par-5 17th to take a two-stroke lead to the last.
Riviera twisted and ensnared the best in the world this week. Scott outlasted her. He's done so before when he won the 2005 version of this event in a weather-shortened 36-hole tournament, but he's never done so with as much panache as he did this week. Third in approach shots. Third from tee to green. This is the kind of winner Riviera demands. It's the kind of golf he almost always plays at this course, with top-11 finishes in three of the last four years.
The win for him is the 14th of his hall-of-fame career (15 if you count that 2005 tilt). It was not the best or the most well-known or the prettiest. But in a week in which, McIlroy faltered late on Sunday and Justin Thomas missed the cut completely, it was a reminder that there's no substitute for four rounds of elite tee-to-green play at a classic like Riviera. Make that two classics, Riviera and Scott. Made for one another. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2020 Genesis Invitational.
Rory McIlroy (T5): It was pretty simple for Rory on Sunday. He went triple bogey-bogey on Nos. 5 and 6 (where Scott went double bogey-birdie). That was the tournament for him. One hole. If he makes par on No. 5, he's in a playoff with Scott. Great for 71 holes. Terrible for one hole. Golf is cruel. He'll be No. 1 for a long time. Grade: A
Brooks Koepka (T43): Hit it great, didn't putt at all. Short game was pretty weak. That's fine. I did watch him three-putt the 18th on Friday, so casually that I wondered if it was a replay from the practice green earlier in the day. He finished near the bottom of the field in putting overall, which is far less troubling than if the same was true of his tee-to-green play. Quite the opposite, Koepka was solid (and also looked terrific) both off the tee and with his iron play this week at Riviera. Grade: C+
Jordan Spieth (T59): Update: not back. After a strong finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last weekend, I thought it may have clicked for Spieth. It has not clicked. He finished nearly last in the field in iron play and held the whole thing together with a great short game. Until his tee-to-green play improves, the only competition for Spieth is going to be making the cut. Grade: C
Tiger Woods (68th): I didn't expect him to win -- for a variety of reasons -- but I also didn't expect him to finish last in this field. Every day, it was something new. On Thursday, the driver lagged. On Friday, his iron play was poor. On Saturday, his putter was as bad as I've ever seen it. On Sunday, it was back to the irons (with some putter thrown in for good measure). Add it all up, and you get the weakest public showing we've seen from him in any capacity since his knee procedure last fall after the Tour Championship.Grade: D-