A tearful Watson revealed just moments after his winning putt fell at the Genesis Open that he had considered retirement '10 or 12 times' during a horror 2017.
But support from family, friends, sponsors and caddie Ted Scott apparently convinced him to stick with the game and that decision proved prophetic as he claimed his third trophy at the famed California layout and 10th career PGA Tour win.
“It means a lot,” he told CBS’ Peter Kostis through tears. “My goal has always been to get 10 wins and this got me to my 10th win.
“There are so many emotions going through my head right now. You never know if you’re going to play good again, never know if you’re going to be able to lift a trophy again.
“So many things…I thought about retirement. I mean, there’s just so much stuff going through my head right now. I can’t believe I’m going to lift a trophy here in a second.”
When pressed by Kostis whether he was serious about retirement, Watson was adamant it wasn’t a throwaway line.
“I’ve mentioned it about 10, 12 times to my wife,” he said.
“We’ve sat down and had many talks about it because physically, I wasn’t where I needed to be to keep continuing to play.”
Asked what he would have done had he given up the game, Watson said he wouldn’t have had trouble keeping busy.
“I have a car dealership, a candy shop and a baseball team,” he said with a laugh. “So we would have had something to do.”
Those pursuits will now have to wait, it seems, as the unorthodox left-hander now heads to the year’s first major at Augusta with a third Green Jacket high in his mind.
Watson started the day with a one-shot lead over fellow American Patrick Cantlay but with the Riviera course giving up few birdies the lead changed hands several times.
Australia’s Cameron Smith, also playing in the last group alongside Cantlay and Watson, eventually finished T6 and was one of several players to get within a shot of top spot but as the back nine unfolded it became clear Watson was the man to beat.
Despite making the turn 1-over, Watson took control of the tournament at the course’s most difficult stretch; hard fought pars at 13, 15 and 16 punctuated by a holed bunker shot for birdie at the 14th.
Most of his nearest challengers went backwards during that stretch, Cantlay and Smith each dropping two shots.
Tony Finau was the only contender not to make a bogey between the 12th tee and 16th green; the long-hitting American managing five consecutive pars.
Impressive performances also came from Kevin Na, whose final round 69 saw him share second alongside Finau, and Phil Mickelson who finished T8 with Smith at 8-under for the week.
Aaron Baddeley, a former winner of this event who began the day four behind and sharing eighth place, also made an early run with a 2-under front nine getting him within touching distance of the lead.
But like so many others, his challenge faltered on the back nine and he eventually signed for an even par 71 and a share of 14th, his best finish since a T10 in Las Vegas last November.
Adam Scott and Greg Chalmers were the only other Australians to qualify for the weekend; Scott having an indifferent week to finish T53 while Chalmers went backwards at the weekend to fall to T68.
SIGNATURE HOLES: 14TH AT KOOYONGA (SA)
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