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Bubba Watson doesn't waste his shot to become Masters champion

His snap-hook wedge at No. 10 on the second playoff hole sets up his victory over Louis Oosthuizen, who has his own memorable moment with a double eagle at No. 2.

April 08, 2012|By Jeff Shain
  • Bubba Watson taps in par putt to finish 10 under on the 18th hole during the final round of the 2012 Masters tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Bubba Watson taps in par putt to finish 10 under on the 18th hole during the… (Tannen Maury / EPA )

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It takes a special shot to beat a double eagle. And somewhere in Bubba Watson's bag of tricks, he found just the right one for an escape worthy of a green jacket.

Deep in the trees right of Augusta National's 10th fairway, the left-hander's window back to the fairway showed only a bunker short of the green. Up above, branches left only a small opening as well.

Watson found it — practically snap-hooking a wedge onto the putting surface in the fading light Sunday to set up a Masters playoff victory, beating Louis Oosthuizen on the second extra hole.

"I'm pretty good at hooking it," said Watson, perhaps the game's best at shaping shots. "And it ended up close to the hole."

About 15 feet away, in fact. Two putts from there were enough to put the green jacket on the Florida native's shoulders.

It was better than Phil Mickelson's recovery from the pine straw at No.13 two years ago that set up his third Masters crown. And it trumped the rarest of the rare — Oosthuizen's double eagle at No. 2, only the fourth recorded in Masters history.

"He hit an unbelievable shot there," said Oosthuizen, whose second shot at No. 10 in the playoff came up short of the green, followed by a pitch to the back fringe and two putts. "I don't feel like I played badly. Hats off to him; he deserves it."

Oosthuizen was seeking to add a Masters title to the British Open he captured two years ago. He had a little history on his side too — Gene Sarazen used his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" double eagle in 1935 to force a playoff with Craig Wood, which he won.

From 253 yards away, the South African watched his crisp four-iron approach roll nearly the entire length of the green and into the cup — a lightning bolt that moved him from two shots off the pace to two ahead.

Augusta National's other two double eagles were by Bruce Devlin in 1967 (No. 8) and Jeff Maggert in 1994 (No. 13).

Watson, meantime, never held the lead by himself this week until the final putt for par dropped.

"I just kept my head down, knowing there were birdies on the back nine," Watson said. "We went to the playoff and I don't know what happened on the rest. I wound up crying there at the end."

That's nothing new. Watson blubbered after each of his other three PGA Tour victories too. This time, the shoulders started heaving before he could finish fishing his ball out of the cup.

Less than two weeks ago, Watson became a father — adopting a 1-month-old son in Florida that he and wife Angie christened Caleb.

"To go home to my new son," Watson said, "it's going to be fun."

Watson and Oosthuizen both completed four rounds at 10-under-par 278. Oosthuizen's double eagle propelled him to a three-under 69; Watson's fireworks came on the back nine, recovering from a bogey at No. 12 with four consecutive birdies to post a 68.

They finished two shots ahead of Mickelson (72), third-round leader Peter Hanson (73), Matt Kuchar (69) and world No. 3 Lee Westwood (68).

Mickelson was undone by a triple bogey at No. 4, when his tee shot caromed off a grandstand and into some bushes — requiring the lefty to take two swings right-handed to extricate himself from the foliage.

"I hit it where I wanted to," Mickelson said, "but it just hit the [spectator] rail."

No Masters champion has ever triumphed with a triple bogey on his card. Mickelson had two on the week — the other coming Thursday when he lost his ball in bushes left of the 10th fairway.

Tiger Woods completed his stay with a two-over 74, unable to record a round under par all week and headed for his worst Masters finish as a professional. It came only two Sundays after the four-time Masters champion cruised to a five-shot romp at Bay Hill.

"I had the wrong ball-striking week at the wrong time," said Woods, adding that he slipped into old swing patterns and couldn't break out nearly in time. He wound up tied for 40th at five-over 293.

Right alongside Woods was U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who turned in a 77-76 weekend after completing the second round one shot off the lead.

jshain@orlandosentinel.com

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