Watson wins Masters with Bubba golf

Published Apr. 8, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Whatever anyone might think of their gender politics, it's undeniable that at the Masters, they stage the greatest show in sports.

That much was obvious after golf's most thrilling tournament was won, fittingly, by maybe its most thrilling player on an action-packed, sun-soaked Easter Sunday afternoon.

Bubba Watson is a one-of-a-kind.

He's never had a golf lesson in his life and has a homemade swing that suits his go-for-broke personality; he's a high-energy bundle of nerves and prodigious length and boundless creativity with a limited attention span and a pink driver.

In his world, there is no punctuation.

Thoughts just shoot by, a million miles an hour; like a swarm of bees, they never stop distracting him.

At the presentation ceremony, instead of thinking about the magnitude of what he'd done, Bubba was staring at a helicopter in the sky and wanting to ask Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion presenting him with the green jacket — who's also a pilot — what kind of helicopter it was.


Bubba not only somehow survived the school psychologist in the Florida Panhandle but an albatross from a gallant Louis Oosthuizen, the specter of Phil Mickelson — whose catastrophic triple bogey on the fourth hole will haunt him — as well as the cauldron that is Augusta National.

"I was nervous on every shot, every putt," Watson admitted.

But his great feat on this Sunday was that he somehow corralled those nerves and focused that energy and, if he can find the secret to that, might just grow into one of the game's great visionaries.

He's not Seve Ballesteros.


But the shot Watson hit to seal his breakthrough major was worthy of the late, great Spanish escape artist.

After hitting a high hook into the trees off the tee on the second playoff hole against a gallant Oosthuizen, it looked as if Bubba's goose was cooked.

But six years ago, when he first hired his caddie, Ted Scott, Watson told him the first rule of Bubba golf.

"If I have a swing, I’ve got a shot," he said.

Scott, wisely, reminded his man of that mantra when they ventured into the forest.

If anything, Watson's notorious trouble focusing was helped by being in peril.

"Makes you concentrate," he said.

And he did, pulling off one of the greatest shots in Masters' history, a shut-down wedge from 155 yards that missed the trees, then hooked almost 50 yards before coming to rest about 20 feet from the flag.

"Got in those trees, hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and now I'm sitting here with a green jacket on," Watson said.

Oosthuizen, who'd taken the lead after recording the first albatross on the second hole in Masters' history, had no idea where Watson was but saw "a curveball going to the right" coming out of the trees.

"An unbelievable shot," he said.

When Oosthuizen's chip from the front of the green ran long, and he agonizingly missed his long try for par, Watson two-putted to become the third left-hander to win the coveted green jacket in 10 years, joining Mickelson (three times) and Mike Weir.

And then came the tears.

He might be a good ol' boy — he recently bought the General Lee, the car used in "The Dukes of Hazard," which has the Confederate flag on its roof — but Watson's not afraid to cry and has done so after his previous wins, especially after the death of his father.

A handful of players, like Watson devout Christians, waited by the green to embrace him, as did his mother.

"We didn’t have any words," he said, "We just cried in each other's arms."

At a rented home in Orlando, his wife, Angie, awaits him with their newborn adopted son, Caleb.

Before he left to see them, Watson entertained the media with a long — though characteristically scattered — dissertation on "Bubba golf."

"My caddie always called it Bubba golf. And, truthfully, it's like Seve played," the 33-year-old said. "He hit shots that were unbelievable. Phil Mickelson, he hits the shot, goes for broke.

"So for me, that's what I do. I attack. Always attack. 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."

Will he change now?

"No, I don't play the game for fame," he said.

"It’s just me. I'm just Bubba. I goof around. I joke around."

But he’s also capable of poignancy.

When he was asked whether he'd ever dreamed of winning the Masters, he shook his head, with tears in his eyes.

"I never got this far in my dreams."