Watson wins Masters playoff over Oosthuizen
AUGUSTA, Georgia - The Associated Press
Bubba Watson jumps 12 spots to be placed fourth in the PGA rankings after his victory at the Augusta National. The big leap after the Masters makes Watson the highest-ranked American player in golf. AFP PohotoThe rarest shot in golf can happen any time Bubba Watson has a golf club in hands. Watson was so deep in the woods late Sunday afternoon that he couldn’t even see where he was going. With his golf ball nestled on a bed of pine needles, he hit a gap wedge that shot out toward the fairway and hooked some 40 yards and onto the elevated green.
Nothing less than the Masters was riding on the outcome. Nothing else would do except for a page right out of “Bubba golf.” And on a thrill-a-minute Sunday at Augusta National, where Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa made only the fourth double eagle in the 76-year history of this major, it made Watson a Masters champion.
“I’ve never had a dream go this far, so I can’t really say it’s a dream come true,” Watson said. “I don’t even know what happened on the back nine. ... Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I’m here talking to you with a green jacket on.” His amazing shot in the playoff settled 10 feet from the hole, setting up a simple par for the win.
Lost in all the commotion was Oosthuizen making what is commonly called the rarest shot in golf - an albatross - when his 4-iron from 253 yards on the par-5 second hole landed on the front of the green, took the slope and rolled some 90 feet into the cup for a 2.
Oosthuizen’s Masters ended by watching a shot he didn’t know existed.
“I had no idea where he was,” Oosthuizen said. “Where I stood from, when the ball came out, it looked like a curve ball. Unbelievable shot. That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament.”
As incredible as it all seemed, Gerry “Bubba” Watson, Jr., the powerful lefty with a million shots at his disposal, was a major champion.
“I never got this far in my dreams,” Watson said in Butler cabin, where defending champion Charl Schwartzel helped him into the green jacket. “It’s a blessing. To go home to my new son, it’s going to be fun.”
Oosthuizen was trying to join Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Masters as the only major champions to win with a double eagle in the final round. The former British Open champion made one clutch putt after another on the back nine, none more important than a 4-footer on the 18th for a 69 to force the playoff.
Both had a good look at birdie at No. 18 on the first extra hole and missed.
Watson, dressed all in white and using a pink driver, hooked his tee shot on the 10th into the trees, and it appeared he would have no shot at reaching the green.
Among his idols in golf are Seve Ballesteros, who built a career on magical escapes like this one. It was the first Masters since Ballesteros died last May. Watson also admires Phil Mickelson, who never saw a flag that frightened him.
“I attack. I always attack,” Watson said. “I don’t like to go to the center of the greens. I want to hit the incredible shot. Who doesn’t? That’s why we play the game of golf, to pull off the amazing shot.” Watson, a 33-year-old from Bagdad, Fla., in the Panhandle, won for the fourth time in his career and moves to No. 4 in the world, making him the highest-ranked American in golf. He became the fifth left-hander to win the Masters in the last 10 years.
“I don’t play the sport for fame,” Watson said. “I don’t do any of that. It’s just me. I’m just Bubba. I goof around. I joke around. I just want to be me and play golf.”