This time, Scott gets to keep the Riviera win

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — He said he was delighted to be in the same final grouping as Rory McIlroy, who just had moved atop the world golf rankings. This way, Adam Scott told us, he would, “see how I stack up.”

It was that Australian humility talking more than doubt. Scott knew exactly who he is, one of the game’s very best. That was verified Sunday in the final round of the Genesis Invitational.

The field was fantastic, McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods. Scott was fantastic — and, after a double bogey on the fifth hole that did little but bring out his character, successful.

He went out on Riviera Country Club's “Hogan’s Alley” and grabbed the championship denied him in 2005 when the tournament — then called the Hyundai — was rained out after two rounds and the finish wasn’t officially recognized by the PGA Tour.

This one will be, of course. The southern California weather was spectacular this year. So was Scott’s golf.

He shot a final-round 70, 1 under par, for a total of 273, 11 under. That was two shots better than Sung Kang (69), Scott Brown (68) and the guy who hadn’t been out of the lead the whole week until it mattered, Kuchar, who had a 1-over 72.

“This feels incredibly good,” said Scott. “I mean that’s fun to poke fun at the thing in ’05, but it is 15 years ago, so I really moved on from that now.” And Sunday he moved on from McIlroy and Kuchar, who with Scott had begun the round in a three-way tie for the lead.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to win a tournament of this stature on a golf course of this stature,” Scott said.

He also said a flop shot on 15 for a bogey, when it seemed everything was about to fall apart, was critical.

As for Tiger Woods, who was co-hosting the Genesis? You don’t want to know. Well, maybe you do. Tiger had a 77 (after a 76 Saturday) for 295. The guess is with all his other duties and with his game in bad shape, Woods wasn’t terribly concerned.

Rory said, in true golfer’s talk, that he wasn’t worried about the other players, just himself. He had good reason after a triple-bogey 7 on five, the hole Scott made his 6. McIlroy finished with a 73 for 276.

“Definitely the toughest day of the week,” said McIlroy, who 24 hours earlier had spoken of how thrilled he was to be at Riviera, which sits in a coastal canyon 15 miles west of Hollywood.

“The wind was up,” said McIlroy, “the hole locations in sort of tricky spots, the course firming up again.” The way great golfers like it.

Ben Hogan won at Riviera three times. Arnold Palmer won there. And now, so has the 39-year-old Adam Scott, who hadn’t played in any tournament anywhere since a December win in Australia, his native land.

“I didn’t expect it to be that tough,” said McIlroy. “Adam held on well at the end.”

Scott did better than hold on. He birdied the 590-yard, par-5 17th to increase his margin to two strokes.

“Look,” he told us, “the putt on 17 was great, because it kept me fairly comfortable. Actually the shot that stood out was deciding to flop the second chip on 15 after I was plugged into the bunker and I kind of knifed it across the green.

“I was in horrible position then, and I wanted to maybe bump it into the fringe, but realistically it was going to go 45 feet past, and I thought, well, maybe you can win the tournament if you hit a great flop shot.”

He hit it, and he won.

“I think this is the age of experimentation,” said Scott. “As I chat with my coach, we often talk of just letting it go a little bit... Age and experience helped.”

They usually do.