By Flint Wheeler
Twenty-year-old amateur Jordan Spieth joked Saturday he would call Sunday playing partner Bubba Watson “Mr.” during the final round of the Masters. By the end of the day, Spieth was calling him the same thing everyone else will – two-time Masters champion.
“Small town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets,” the 35-year-old Watson said. “It’s pretty wild.”
Watson’s first win at Augusta National Golf Club came in a sudden death playoff in 2012 on the back of a miracle save from the pine straw. This one was a Sunday stroll, but it didn’t diminish the accomplishment any, Watson said.
“The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot easier on my nerves,” he said.
Watson, who will collect $1.62 million for the week’s work, became the 17th man to win multiple Masters and the first since Arnold Palmer in 1960 to win two green jackets in his first six Masters appearances.
The win was punctuated on the 18th toddled onto the green and was wrapped up by his crying father. Caleb and Watson’s wife Angie missed his first Masters win, which came one week after the couple adopted Caleb. Angie Watson was in Augusta this time to hug her sobbing husband.
“It’s a dream to be on the PGA TOUR. 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?” Watson said. “Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida? Why is he winning? That’s why I’m always going to cry, you know. I’ll probably cry again tonight sometime, just thinking about it.”
Watson played Sunday’s round in 3-under 69 to finish 8-under for the tournament, three shots clear of two Masters first-timers – Spieth and 29-year-old Swede Jonas Blixt.
“Bubba Watson is a deserving Masters champion this year, and that was some incredible golf he played down the stretch to hold it together and make his pars,” Spieth said.
Steady was all it took this year on a course even seasoned Masters players called the one of the toughest in memory. Only two players shot lower than Watson’s 69 on Sunday and neither were in contention at the start of the day.
“Lucky for me today is that nobody really made putts coming down the stretch so I didn’t have to make putts myself,” Watson said. “You could just tell nobody really caught fire.”
Watson and Spieth entered the day deadlocked at 5-under, and Spieth took a two-stroke lead after birdying No. 7 to move to 8-under. Watson erased that lead on the next hole when he birdied and Spieth bogeyed, and Watson took the lead for good with a birdie on No. 9.
“When I got to 10 tee box, I still believed that I could win the tournament, no doubt about it,” Spieth said. “I still thought that Bubba…”
What Spieth seemed to be thinking was that Bubba could still blow it, which is not that crazy a thought considering the history of the back nine at Augusta.
Instead, Watson cruised in with eight pars and a birdie on the final nine holes.
The only moment of drama came at No. 15, where Watson had a three-stroke lead but hit his tee shot into the trees on the left side of the fairway. The smart shot was a layup chip back into the fairway. Watson’s choice was a 6-iron punched between trees that prompted CBS announcer David Feherty to wonder on air, “Has he lost his marbles?”
“It’s Bubba golf,” Watson caddie Ted Scott explained. “For him it’s not that big a deal. For me it would have been a big deal, I’m like, that’s not a big gap. But for him he sees huge gaps.”
And “Bubba golf” is?
Fun to watch. Admittingly, Bubba has never taken a formal lesson in the game he now stands atop of. Savour this moment in sports fans. With other sports having questionable characters layered with entitlements from exorbitant high salaries. Golf has a champion with pure childlike exuberance sanded down to world class excellence that we as fans should applaud and say, Thank you.