Bubba Watson wins the Masters in a playoff
AUGUSTA - Louis Oosthuizen duplicated the shot heard ’round the world, but that was nothing compared to the miracle shot Bubba Watson pulled off on the deciding hole of the 76th Masters Sunday.
After hooking his tee ball deep into the trees on the second hole of a playoff with Oosthuizen, the self-taught, eccentric and always creative Watson made an incredible recovery, bending his second shot on to the green near the flag to set up his victory.
Watson started shuddering and crying immediately after the tap-in putt dropped to clinch his first green jacket and first major tournament title. It was a pure, emotional release after another tension-filled afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club.
“I’ve never had a dream go this far … so I can’t really say it’s a dream come true,” said Watson, who put himself in position for the playoff with four consecutive birdies Sunday on the back nine, beginning on the 13th hole.
“It’s just I don’t even know what happened on the back nine. I know I made bogey on 12 and then I birdied four in a row. Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in those trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head and somehow I’m here with a green jacket on.”
Watson and Oosthuizen finished the fourth round at 10-under-par 278, two strokes up on the nearest pursuers that included Phil Mickelson, who was seeking his fourth Masters victory and considered the man to beat Sunday.
Watson, excessively long off the tee but occasionally wild, appeared to seal his doom on the second extra hole (the par-four 10th at Augusta National) when he launched his tee shot into a stand of Georgia pines to the right of the fairway.
But with just a narrow chute to escape, the 33-year-old American clipped a clever shot off the dirt and pine straw that found the upper part of the green about a dozen feet from the hole.
With Oosthuizen coming up short on his approach, hitting his third shot to the back fringe of the green and then missing his par putt, Watson had the luxury of two putts to win.
“The first time I ever worked with my caddy [Ted Scott]six years ago, I told him, ‘If I have a swing, I’ve got a shot.’ So I’m used to the woods. I’m used to the rough. And we were walking down there and I said, ‘We were here already. We hit it close here already today,’ because I was in those trees.
“I got there. I saw it was a perfect draw [a hook shot] … And he said, ‘If you’ve got a swing, you’ve got a shot.’”
After his winner fell in, he was greeted on the green by his mother and some of his friends on the PGA Tour, including Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley.
As his tears flowed, he thought of his wife, Angie, back home with their new son, Caleb, whom they adopted just a couple of weeks ago.
“The thing is, golf is not my everything,” Watson told reporters. “... If I would have lost today, I’m not going to go home and pout. I’m going to think about the great times I had, the chance I had to win; I won, I get to go home and think about that. But tomorrow, there’s going to be a new tournament and y’all are going to write about other people. Y’all are going to forget about me tomorrow, you know what I’m saying. I’m going to have to keep living my life and do everything.
“But for me to come out here and win, it’s awesome for a week and then get back to real life. I haven’t changed a diaper yet, so probably going to have to change a diaper pretty soon.”
Augusta National official Craig Hartley quickly added. “Bubba, these guys aren’t going to forget about you tomorrow.”
The Masters has a way of producing dramatic, defining shots that become legendary in the history of golf’s first major tournament. This year’s edition had two within a few hours.
Before Watson’s great escape, Oosthuizen had the shot of the day – the year, the decade and the millennium, too.
He knocked in his second shot on the par-five second hole for an incredibly rare double-eagle, just the fourth in Masters history and the first captured on television.
But if it was tough for him to refocus, he didn’t show it. Oosthuizen held his own for the most part as a series of challengers surged toward him in a back nine similar to 2010, when eight or nine players had the green jackets within their grasps.
But none other than Watson was there at the end.
Mickelson, whose chances took a turn for the worse on the par-three fourth hole when he made a triple-bogey (his second triple-bogey of the week), fellow third-round co-leader Peter Hanson, Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood tied for third place at eight under.
For Westwood, it was his sixth top-three finish in his past 10 majors, leaving the talented Englishman still without a title in the game’s biggest tournaments.
Rory McIlroy came into the Masters as the co-favourite with Woods but wasn’t a factor in the end either. The 22-year-old Northern Irishman played himself into contention last Friday, moving to within a shot of the lead, but came up flat on the weekend, shooting 77 Saturday and 76 Sunday. “I felt coming into the weekend I had a chance and sort of blew up the first nine holes on Saturday,” he said, referring to a 42 that was eerily reminiscent of his back-nine collapse as the leader in 2011. “It wasn’t so great, so I was just trying to recover some today, but I didn’t really have my best game today.” McIlroy finished with the same five-over 293 as Woods.
DOUBLE EAGLES LANDED
Double eagles (or albatrosses) in Masters history:
Gene Sarazen: 15th hole, fourth round in 1935.
Bruce Devlin: eighth hole, first round in 1967.
Jeff Maggert: 13th hole, fourth round in 1994.
Louis Oosthuizen: second hole, fourth round in 2012.
BY THE NUMBERS
23 - Number of holes-in-one in Masters history after Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott both made aces Sunday on the 16th hole. Van Pelt’s slam dunk helped him shoot the low round of the day and tournament, a 64. Scott, a 2011 runner-up, parlayed his ace into a 66 and tie for eighth place. The 16th has yielded the most holes-in-one (15) of any of the four par-fours at Augusta National.
UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay won the Silver Cup as the low amateur, edging Hideki Matsuyama of Japan by two shots. Cantlay, the world’s top-ranked amateur, finished four rounds at seven-over 295 and was tied for 47th place overall. He secured the honour by going five-under par over the final five holes Sunday. “I learned a lot about the golf course and angles to play and places to hit it and not to hit it,” said Cantlay, who’s scheduled to return to the U.S. college circuit this week. “I think that’s really going to benefit me when I come back in the future.” Matsuyama appeared headed for his second consecutive Silver Cup but shot 80 Sunday. Kelly Kraft, the other amateur to make the cut, finished at 18 over.