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Bubba Watson lives it up in L.A. during the Genesis Open

He might not have Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” playing continuously on Spotify, but the sentiment works just fine for Bubba Watson.

Watson won what is now the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in 2014 and 2016, and he’s playing well again this year. He had five birdies in one six-hole stretch Friday in the second round and shot a one-under-par 70, despite a double-bogey on the 434-yard par-four fifth hole.

“This course is a blast,” he said. “Everything about it, how would you not like this area? This is one of those places I really love, and I sign up as soon as I can.”

Golf is not the only draw for the Floridian. “I may or may not have taped a Jay Leno garage show,” he said, “went and saw a friend of mine, Ellen, and then went over and watched a taping of ‘The Big Bang Theory.’… When you come here, it’s Hollywood. I mean, do stuff, you know? Let’s have some fun.”

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Watson also played in the Celebrity All-Star basketball game Friday night at the L.A. Convention Center. Watson is 6 feet 3 but is much more of an outside shooter than a bruiser. He had a shot blocked by Tracy McGrady.

“I have a little bit of touch,” he said. “So it worked out when I was in high school. When I say ‘worked out,’ I made one out of 20.”

Play it forward

First-round co-leader Tony Finau, who is at five under after an even-par 71, grew up without much money in Salt Lake City and learned to play at a city-owned par-three course called Jordan River. He and younger brother Gipper spent so much time practicing there, the head pro eventually let them play free.

The course no longer exists. “They turned it into Frisbee golf now,” Finau said. “It kind of sucks. You can still see the shape of the holes and stuff.

“I would love to go back and play with my brother, my dad. Hopefully, we can reopen it.”

Finau said his foundation is hoping to build an academy there.

“I’ve started a foundation because I feel like I can give back and hopefully be a good example to some kids in the area I grew up in.”

Shot of the day

Kevin Chappell, who was playing with fellow UCLA alumnus Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth, took an unusual route to the hole on the 590-yard par-five 17th. He faced a bunker shot of about 40 yards from the front right side of the green after his second shot.

His effort from the sand sailed over the flag onto the top of one of the spectator tents at the back of the green. As players and spectators watched and waited to see what would happen, the ball eventually rolled down the sloped roof and dropped to the fringe. Chappell chipped to two feet and made the putt for par. Routine.

Crowd control

After his round, Adam Hadwin, a trim 5 feet 8, managed to weave and nudge his way through the dense swarm of fans behind the first tee just as the feature attraction of the afternoon matches was about to begin his second round. “Gee,” he said as he finally broke through on his way to the locker room. “You’d think Tiger Woods is playing or something.”

sports@latimes.com


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