When fans talk about the 2012 Masters today, next week or next decade, they’ll talk about “The Shot.” For the record, that would be the curving shot Bubba Watson hit blind from behind a tree that landed within 10 feet of the cup on August National’s 10th green. Oh, and that shot came on the second sudden-death playoff hole for the more than $1.4 million purse.
“Hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 yards off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising,” Watson said in his post-tournament press conference. “Pretty easy.”
The “easy” shot set up a two-putt for par that clinched Watson’s first major, and capped one of the most thrilling final rounds in recent memory for this tournament. There was runner-up Louis Oosthuizen’s double-eagle on the par-5 second hole. There was Phil Mickelson self-destructing with a triple-bogey on the par-3 fourth hole. There were two hole-in-ones on the 16th, by Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott, respectively. And there was Tiger Woods, who never even came close to challenging this weekend.
Watson, though, played above them all. Brandishing a pink driver (for charity reasons) this 33-year-old savant, who has never had a golf lesson in his life and still plays without a coach, hit six birdies in his final round and stood tall in the playoff to win his first green jacket. After clinching the win, Watson was greeted with a long hug from his mom and the tears started to flow – and didn’t stop flowing until his speech in front of the fans and a national television audience once he received his green jacket from last year’s champion, Charl Schwartzel.
“I’ve never had a dream go this far,” Watson said. “So I can’t really say it’s a dream come true … When I first started working with my caddie six years ago, I told him, ‘If I have a swing, I have a shot.”
The rest of the leaderboard saw the likes of Matt Kucher (finished at -8) and Lee Westwood (-8) making late surges to tie for third with Peter Hanson (-8) and Mickelson (-8). Ian Poulter (-5), Padraig Harrington (-4), Justin Rose (-4) and Adam Scott (-4) round out the rest of the top 10. Spaniard Sergio Garcia tied for 12th (-2) and Argentine Angel Cabrera tied for 32nd (+3). Pre-tournament favorite Tiger Woods finished tied for 40th with a +5.
Watson was a crowd favorite heading into the Masters, thanks to his collegiate career at the University of Georgia. He had also developed a devoted following thanks to his laid-back attitude, sense of humor (he bought the “Dukes of Hazzard” iconic car, the General Lee, at an auction in January) and undeniable talent that occasionally showed flashes of greatness. Yesterday, however, that talent came together beautifully for a magical round and unbelievable shot that not only earned Watson a big payday, but also a spot in Masters history.
D.B. Mitchell is a freelance writer who covers sports, politics and pop culture. You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/@DB_Mitchell