The Masters 2012: Bubba blubbs as he earns First Green Jacket.

This years Masters tournament provided the usual compendium of thrills and spills, shocks and upsets, the spectacular and the crazy.

In short, the 2012 Masters will be remembered for many different things but chief amongst them will be the emotional scenes after the second play off hole, when blubbing Bubba Watson finally realised a lifetime’s ambition.

 


 

It was not the best week for some of the games top stars. Rory McIlroy started brightly on the first two days, but had effectively discarded his chances of victory with a dreadful opening nine holes in the third round. The much vaunted showdown with Tiger Woods never materialised either as the American suffered his own woes and it was perhaps telling that the two golfers rated by many to be the likely final pairing on Sunday, both finished well down the field on a humbling 5-over par.

 

For world number one Luke Donald it was equally frustrating. With a game that seemed well set up for Augusta, the Englishman never got going and his final round 68 came only when he was well out of the reckoning.

Instead, it was left to some other names to forge into contention during the competition with some sublime golf. Phil Mickelson‘s back nine on his third round was arguably some of the finest golf ever witnessed on television as the likeable American treated us to a whole catalogue of magnificent drives, sublime approaches and inch perfect putting to put himself into contention for the final day. Peter Hanson too played out of his skin to lead by a single shot going into the final round.

Other players, like Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter were sat further back in the pack, hoping for some final day drama to put them into serious contention.

We didn’t have to wait long. On the second hold, South African Louis Oosthuizen played what should know become known as “The Shot Seen Around the World“. His immaculate second shot at the par five second hole was a moment of golfing perfection. It immediately propelled him to the top of the leaderboard as Hanson and Mickelson both stuttered at the start.

 

Worse was to come for the American at the par three 4th just minutes later. His errant tee shot was sliced towards the grandstand, bounced off a railing and deep into a growth of bamboo to the left of the green. After identifying his ball, Mickelson tried to extract it twice and was only able to land it on the gravelly pathway in front of the bunker. His fourth shot saw him try one of his trademark flop shots, but it fell just inside the lip of the bunker. An up-and-down saw him mark a 6 onto his card.

It would be this hole that cost Mickelson the title.

bubba_watson_driving

 

Oosthuizen however remained unflappable, while not registering any birdies, the South African’s unflappable putting saw him make several critical par saves and maintain his lead. By now though, Americans Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar were making moves up the leaderboard and Englishman Lee Westwood was also pushing.

Kuchar briefly tied for the lead after eagling the 15th, but immediately following that an errant tee shot at the 16th saw him positioned well right of the flag on the 16th green and a bogey effectively put paid to his hopes of victory. Especially now that both Oosthuizen and Watson were entering the more benign section of the course following Amen Corner. Watson’s run of four birdies lifted him into a tie with the South African at the end of an enthralling days golf. They were two clear of Westwood, Kuchar, Mickelson and Hanson in joint third.

 

For Westwood in particular, this was another bittersweet Major moment; tee to green no player in the field could match the Englishman throughout the four rounds, but as Westwood admitted himself, he did not hole a putt all week. A missed Eagle at the 15th on the final day and a litany of 15 foot and under putts missed meant that despite playing the best golf tee-to-green all week by a considerable margin, the Worksop born world number 3 had to be content once again with a place inside the top ten.

 

The first play off hole saw both Watson and Oosthuizen make comfortable pars, Watson having a putt on the 18th green to take the win but incredulous at the ball not taking what he perceived to be the borrow. The 10th would be the second play off hole and Watson made the first mistake; another huge drive but this time well right of the fairway, his ball bounding down the well trodden pine straw a country mile, but also well right of the green and seemingly leaving him little option but to chip out.

 

In response, Oosthuizen’s calm demeanour deserted him. He too struck the ball wide right, but fortune was on the South African’s side, his ball clattered into a tree and came to rest in the semi-rough. He was 230+ yards away from the green, but it seemed he held a distinct advantage.

In the end, the two shots that effectively decided the play off came next. Oosthuizen played first but seemed to catch his shot a little too fat. His ball fell surprisingly short of the green. An error without doubt, but perhaps not catastrophic considering Watson’s position.

In response, Watson created his own moment of Masters magic. Barely 130 yards from the green, Watson attempted an audacious left to right draw with his sand iron. It was executed to perfection, landing on the green, spinning left and ending up around 15 feet from the flag.

 

bubba watson green jacket

 

Oosthuizen’s disappointing chip from off the green sealed his fate. The ball running well past the hole and almost off the back of the green and when the South African just missed his par putt, his fate was effectively sealed. Watson had two putts from 15 feet to win and took them to take the green jacket.

The emotional finale was a fitting end to a rollercoaster week at Augusta.

 

Images by Bubba Watson Facebook Page

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