The Masters: Second Green Jacket for WatsonApril, 2014
Bubba claims three-shot Augusta victory
For the sixth time in 12 years a left-hander emerged to win the Masters as Bubba Watson claimed his second Green Jacket on just his sixth visit.
The winner had come from the final pairing 19 times in the past 23 Masters and, but for the briefest of challenges from Matt Kuchar, it was always between Watson and the superstar in waiting Jordan Spieth.
Very fleetingly Spieth led by three after holing a bunker shot at the 4th but then the 2012 champion followed him in and then rarely faltered as the rest of the field failed to mount a charge. Come the finish Watson was three clear and he could enjoy the walk up the 18th with shots in hand.
After closing out victory, Watson said: “I don’t play this game for people to tell me how good I am. I play it because I love it.
“A small-town guy named Bubba now has two Green Jackets.”
On Friday the 35-year-old rattled up five successive birdies from the 12th to lead by three but then looked to be going the wrong way as the putter went cold on him.
But 11 single putts gave him a three-under 69 as he birdied both the short holes going out, added two more at the 8th and 9th and then left himself one of the shortest approaches in Masters history to the 13th – another birdie followed and a total of eight under on the par 5s.
Over the course of the week it took Watson 36 holes to register his second bogey. Within seven holes of his third round he had doubled that.
On that evidence not many fancied him to repeat the 2012 win so this should be remembered as not just a display of 330-yard drives and conjured up approaches but a victory for his resolve and inner steel. His legs might have been paddling away under the water but, above it, he looked relatively serene.
‘This should be remembered as not just a display of 330-yard drives and conjured up approaches but a victory for his resolve’
Spieth finished in a tie for second with Jonas Blixt, the Swede looking very comfortable on the biggest stage. This was just his third Major, in last year’s PGA Championship he was fourth.
He made just one mistake in a round of 71, his fourth under-par effort for the week, as his neat and tidy game showed no signs of buckling.
Other Europeans to grace the top 10 were Miguel Angel Jimenez (4th), Lee Westwood (7th), Bernhard Langer, Thomas Bjorn and Rory McIlroy (8th). For McIlroy it was his best finish at Augusta and some effort coming from 51st on Friday night and being outscored by a marker the following morning but, again, one round that got out of hand let him down.
But these were all sideshows, Watson and Spieth were the real story. The 20-year-old, looking to become the youngest winner in Masters history, was even more twitchy than his playing partner but, while the swing was malfunctioning, the good scoring continued.
Two hooks at the first two holes resulted in a par-birdie start and he reached the turn in 35 with just two pars in there.
On the back nine he was unable to hit enough solid shots but, to his credit, a level-par 72 displayed again the maturity that has seen him rocket from a player without a Tour card last year to a likely Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles.
Other two-time Masters champions include Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Ben Crenshaw, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal.
It takes something very special to be part of this select group, around Augusta Bubba is.
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