Tears of joy — Bubba Watson wins The Masters
By Michael Williams
GolfWRX Staff Writer
PGA Tour crowd favorite Bubba Watson combined prodigious drives with fearless iron play to engineer a victory over South African Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole at historic Augusta National. Watson and Oosthuizen finished regulation play at 10-under par 274, 2 shots ahead of a pack that had chased the lead until the final moments.
“I never go this far in my dreams,” an emotional Watson said during the Green Jacket Ceremony at Butler Cabin.
The round produced drama from virtually every part of the field. Bo Van Pelt recorded a Masters record-tying 64, including an ace on the par-3 16th. Adam Scott also aced the 16th. But the leaders produced the real fireworks.
Oosthuizen made history with his double-eagle three at the par-5 second. Oosthuizen hit a 4-iron from 253 yards that landed the front of the green and funneled down to the traditional back right pin and into the hole. The albatross was only the fourth in Masters history and the first ever on No. 2. That shot rocketed him from third to first place and he held onto it with dogged determination and a ice-cold demeanor. Throughout the round Oosthuizen displayed a rhythmic, balanced swing that made it seem it seems as though he is always going to hit what he is aiming for. Oosthuizen made key par save putts on No. 3 and No. 6 of 10 feet. He was rock solid on the later holes as well, making quality putts from every angle on Augusta’s treacherous greens.
Playing partner Watson was undeterred. He recorded birdie on the second and birdied No. 13 and No. 14 after a bogey at No. 12 to get within one shot of Oosthuizen and the lead. He sank an 8 footer at No. 16 to tie for the lead.
On No. 17, both Watson and Ooosthuizen sent their tee shots into the woods. Oosthuizen made another remarkable par save after a superb wedge out of the greenside bunker. Watson also saved par, sending the duel to the final hole of the tournament. Both players hit long drives into the fairway, and both had makeable putts to win the tournament. But Oosthuizen’s 15 footer slid just right of the hole and Watson’s birdie attempt curled to the left, sending the tournament into a playoff for the 14th time and the first since 2009.
On the first playoff hole, Watson produced a carbon copy of the drive he hit in regulation, finding the right side of the fairway; Oosthuizen left himself 151 on the opposite side. Oosthuizen drilled his approached to 15 feet and Watson responded by putting his within 10 feet. Both missed their birdie chances to take the competition to the second playoff hole, No. 10.
Both players hit wild tee shots to the right of the fairway, with Oosthuizen getting another good break as his tee shot rebounded out of the woods into the first cut of rough. Watson’s ball rested some 20 yards right the fairway and 150 yards from the flag. But fortunes were soon reversed as Oosthuizen left his approach short of the green and failed to get the ball up and down for par. Watson responded by hitting one of the most clutch shots in Masters history, hooking a pitching wedge 151 yards to 8 feet. He two-putted for par to clinch his 4th professional win and his first major championship title. Watson is the third left-handed golf to win the Masters, joining fellow American Mickelson and Canadian Mike Weir.
Oosthuizen’s historic shot was not enough to carry him to victory, but he was stoic in defeat. “I’m happy with the way I played,” he said. “I had my chance on that last hole when he hit a bad drive, but I didn’t take it. I’m happy for [Watson].”
Going into the final five holes, eight players were within three shots of the lead.
Mickelson did not recover from a disastrous triple bogey on the par 3 4th. After sending his tee shot into the brush left of the green, Mickelson declined to re-tee, hacking two shots right-handed on his way to a dismal six. He was never able to dig out of the pit he dug for himself there, finishing with a final round of even par 72 and a four-way tie for third with Matt Kuchar, Peter Hansen and Lee Westwood. No one has ever won the Masters while carding a triple bogey during the week; Mickelson recorded two.
“It was unfortunate,” said Mickelson. “I knew that I didn’t want to leave the ball out to the right, but I went too far. I had my chances later in the round but I just couldn’t hit the putts that I needed.”
Kuchar stayed in the hunt to the end, but ultimately couldn’t convert enough birdie opportunities to catch the leaders. He finished in the group at 8-under.
Third round leader Peter Hanson never really got any momentum going. Loose shots and shaky putting left him in the pack tied for third.
Pre-tournament favorites Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ended a disappointing Masters for both with final rounds of 74 and 76 respectively to finish at 5-over for the tournament. 52-year old Fred Couples couldn’t sustain the play that carried to him to a share of the second round lead but finished at a very respectable 2-under for the tournament.
Michael Williams is the contributing editor of Newschannel8 Capital Golf Weekly and Bunkershot.com, as well as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
You can follow Michael on twitter — @Michaelontv