AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bubba Watson didn’t need a miracle shot from the pines in sudden death to win his second Masters Tournament in three years. Just the only round in the 60s among the contenders on Sunday.
Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole of sudden-death in 2012, the final round finishing in the twilight with Watson in tears.
There was no playoff on Sunday, which meant plenty of sunlight for Watson to bask in after a three-shot victory, his second win of the season and sixth of his career.
“It’s overwhelming to win twice to be with the great names (that have multiple Masters wins),” said Watson, the 17th player with more than one green jacket.
Watson was born in Pensacola, Fla., grew up in nearby Bagdad, Fla., and now lives in Tiger Woods’ old house in Windemere, Fla.
“A small-time guy named Bubba now has two green jackets,” Watson said. “It’s crazy to think that you’ve won.”
Watson, 35, took the walk up the hill to the 18th green with victory in hand this time, leading by three shots. In 2012, he was tied for the lead.
Watson, who started the day tied for the lead with Jordan Spieth, closed with 3-under-par 69 – his third round in the 60s – and a nice rebound from his third-round 74.
Spieth, the young Texan, stood tall in the face of the pressure for seven holes, holding a two-shot lead, but he couldn’t keep it up.
The 20-year-old, biding to become the youngest Masters champion and the first Masters rookie to win in 35 years, ended up shooting 72 and tying for second place with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt (71), another Masters rookie. Blixt (70-71-71-71) broke par every day and Spieth (71-70-70-72) never shot over par in a round.
After tapping in his par putt on No. 18, Watson broke down in tears again.
“For me, it’s a dream to be on the PGA Tour,” Watson said. “It’s a dream to win, and winning any tournament is a big deal. Winning the green jacket is a little bit bigger deal. So, yeah, I’m going to cry, because why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla.? Why is he winning? So I just always ask the question why, why me? That’s why I’m always going to cry. I’ll probably cry again tonight sometime, just thinking about it.”
Ted Scott, who has caddied for Watson in both victories at Augusta National, called the second win “a high you can’t explain.”
Said Scott: “This is the greatest stage in golf. You’re walking up 18, you look around, you see the history here, you see the crowd, it’s a beautiful day outside, the sun’s setting, the shadows are there. Everything about it is amazing. And you’re winning the Masters again.”
Spieth birdied four of his first seven holes, calling it a “dream start at Augusta.”
But never made another birdie after that, playing his final 11 holes in 3-over fashion, with bogeys on Nos. 8, 9 and 12.
“It’s a stinger,” Spieth said of the loss. “I had it my hand and could have gone forward with it. I didn’t quite make the putts. That’s what it came down to. The only thing I’m thinking about is: ‘when do I get back next year?’”
Watson opened with rounds of 69-68-74 and finished at 8-under 280, the highest winning score since Trevor Immelman’s 283 in 2008. When Watson won in 2012, he shot 278.
It was one of the quietest back nines in recent memory, which was fine with Watson.
“There wasn’t too many birdies after No. 10, I don’t think,” he said.
Watson played the back nine in even-par 36 with a bogey on No. 10 and a birdie on No. 13 after shooting 33 on the front.
“That was some incredible golf he played down the stretch to hold it together and make his pars,” Spieth said. “Bubba Watson is a deserving Masters champion this year.”
It was a strong showing by the much-ballyhooed rookie class. Spieth and Blixt tied for second and Jimmy Walker (70 on Sunday) and Kevin Stadler (73) both tied for eighth place. They will all be back next year by finishing in the top 12, which is automatic qualifier, as Watson goes for his third win in four years.
The 35-year-old Watson, who moved from 12th to fourth in world rankings with the win, earned a Masters record $1,620,000 for the victory, or $180,000 more than Adam Scott won last year.
The anticipated shootout in the pines never materialized. Of the 13 players within five shots of the lead entering the final round, Watson was the only one to shoot in the 60s.
“Nobody really caught fire,” Watson said.
It was 20th time in the past 24 years that the winner came out of the final Sunday pairing, but the first time it’s happened since 2010.
It was shaping up to be a two-man race between Watson and Spieth on the front nine. Spieth birdied four of his first seven holes, highlighted by a holed-out bunker shot on No. 4, to take a two shot lead over Watson after seven.
By the time the two hit the back nine, Watson had picked up four shots on Spieth and was two shots ahead. Watson birdied No. 8 while Spieth made bogey to even it up. Watson then also birdied No. 9 and Spieth made bogey, missing a short par putt.
“Nos. 8 and 9 were the turning points of the day,” Spieth said. “When I got to No. 10, I still thought I could get back into it.”
Spieth moved back to within a shot with par save from a bunker on No. 10 and Watson made bogey. It was on No. 10 that Spieth showed his first signs of anger, banging his club into the turf after his second shot found the bunker.
Watson went up back by two shots when he got up-and-down for par on the devilish par-3 12th hole and Spieth scrambled to make bogey after hitting his tee shot in the water.
Watson put the hammer down with a 366-yard tee shot that hit a tree but still made it around the corner on the par-5 13th hole.
“That’s his day,” Spieth said when told Watson’s drive on No. 13 hit a tree and kept going.
It set up a gap wedge to 35 feet, which he two-putted, making a 7-footer to go up by three shots on Spieth.
They both parred the final six holes. Blixt played his final six in 1-under to catch Spieth for a share of second place.
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