AUGUSTA, Ga. – The 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 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 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 90 feet into the cup for a 2.
Oosthuizen had never made a double eagle in his life.
His Masters ended by watching a shot he didn’t know existed. After hitting short of the 10th green in the playoff, he was in the fairway and could only see a trail of fans leading into the woods.
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.
Watson, who made four straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 4-under 68, made it all sound so simple. Maybe it’s because he has hit so many shots like that before.
Hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 feet off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising, Watson said. Pretty easy.
The hard part was holding back tears.
He was blubbering hard on the 10th green for so many reasons. Two weeks ago, he and his wife adopted a baby boy, Caleb. The first person on the green was his mother – his father died right after the Ryder Cup in 2010. He held her tight and cried some more.
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.
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.
They finished at 10-under 278, two shots ahead of four players who made the Masters as compelling as ever.
Phil Mickelson, playing in the final group for the fourth time, recovered from a triple bogey on the par-3 fourth hole and still managed to stay in the game. He could only make two-putt birdies on the two par 5s on the back and shot 72.
Lee Westwood of England ran off three straight birdies, but the last one hurt. He had an 8-foot eagle putt to tie for the lead on the 15th and missed it, and a final birdie on the 18th gave him a 68.
Matt Kuchar tied for the lead with a short eagle putt on the 15th, then bogeyed the 16th for a 69. Peter Hanson of Sweden, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole. He closed with a 73.