Lefty Watson wins Masters
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2012 US Masters | Wrap | 09 Apr 2012
Lee Trevino once said that you could talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen. Perhaps that is why a disproportionate amount of left-handed golfers have won the Masters over the past nine years.
It is easier and less dangerous for a golfer to hit a fade than to try and turn one over but it is the right to left shaped shot that provides most benefit around Augusta National.
It is probably fair to say however that Bubba Watson, who today became only the third left hander to win the event when he edged out Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff for the 2012 Masters, was doing his best to talk to the hook he hit at the second extra hole.
Watson’s 165 year wedge from the trees and pine straw to the right of the par four 10th hooked about 40 yards to set up a 12 foot birdie putt. As it turned out he did not need to make it as Oostuizen too had found the right hand rough and from just short of the green with his third he was unable to get up and down.
“I was there earlier today during regulation so I was used to it,” said Watson referring to a wild pull hook he had hit on the same hole earlier in the day. “I knew what I was facing there. Had a good lie, had a gap where I had to hook it, I don’t know, 40 yards or something. So I just I’m pretty good at hooking it, so I just hooked it up there and somehow it nestled close to the hole.”
Watson’s two putt par therefore was good enough to get the job done and the man who recently became a father has the first of what may well be many major championships.
“After my playing partner, Louis, made double eagle on 2 and he took the lead that quick,” said Watson. “I three putted the first hole, I just kept my head down knowing that there were birdies on the back nine. You could make some eagles, you could make some birdies.
“I just kept going, kept grinding it out, and somehow I went into a playoff, and I don’t know what happened the rest. I just know I was crying a little bit later. That’s about it.”
Arguably one of the most naturally gifted and imaginative golfers the game has seen, Watson has won his first major on a golf course where imagination plays such a key role in success.
Nearly two years ago Watson was involved in another playoff for a major championship at the 2010 PGA Championship although that time he came out on the wrong side of the ledger. Today he established a base for career that could well lead to him becoming one of the greats of the game.
Despite his flair and the attacking nature of his game, Watson has developed into one of the game’s most consistent players in recent months. Since and including his trip to Australia last November, Watson has not finished outside the top twenty in his last ten tournaments suggesting a great competitive spirit in addition to his almost unbelievable skills.
Watson began the day one behind the man he would beat in the playoff, Oosthuizen, and three behind the leader Peter Hanson when he began his round in the penultimate group with the South African.
A three putt bogey at the first and he had slipped two behind Oosthuizen and despite a birdie at the par five second he was all of a sudden four behind as a result of Oostuizen’s stunning 250 yard four iron which pitched on the very front of the green and ran the 30 metres or so to find the bottom of the cup for only the third Albatross in the history of the Masters.
Oostuizen had not only established a break on the man who would eventually beat him, he had also broken clear of the field by two shots after the 54 hole leader, Hanson, bogeyed his very first hole.
Despite bogeys at his 4th and 10th holes, Oosthuizen remained in front on his own until Matt Kuchar hit the most brilliant of approaches to the par five 15th and holed from 3 feet for eagle and joined him at 9 under.
Kuchar’s tee shot at the 16th was so far out of position it was almost impossible for him to save par and so it would prove and Oosthuizen again had the lead. While most were expecting and perhaps hoping for Phil Mickelson to fully recover from his disastrous triple bogey at the 6th (his second of the week) he had left himself too much to do and although valiant in his quest for a fourth Green Jacket it was not to be.
The stage was the left to Oosthuizen’s playing partner Watson who two putted for birdie at the 13th, hit his approach at the 14th to 5 feet for another, two putted from 25 feet for yet another at the 15th and then joined Oosthuizen in the lead when he hit a brilliant 9 iron to 7 feet at the 16th.
Playing the 72nd hole the pair both found the fairway although Oostuizen’s approach finished a dangerous 40 feet behind the hole while Watson was flag high 20 feet right. Both two putted for par and a playoff became necessary.
The first extra hole (the 18th) saw both players with birdie chances although when Oosthuizen missed his, the stage was open for Watson to hole from 9 feet for the title. It missed and so it was on to the second extra hole – the 10th of the layout where the title was decided.
Oosthuizen was disappointed but philosophical about his near miss. “It’s close. It’s close to the jacket. But, I mean, Bubba played well. It was great. It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there. You know, we were going at it both, so it was good. I had an opportunity probably on 10 to hit a better tee shot, but he hit an unbelievable shot. So hats off to him. He did well."
Phil Mickelson finished in a share of third with Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Peter Hanson.
“I’m certainly not satisfied just being in contention,” said Mickelson in response to a question along those lines. “I love having the opportunity to win, to compete on Sunday, to come down the back nine with a chance to win the Masters. That’s fun.
“I had a great time today. It’s certainly disappointing not getting it done, not being able to convert the opportunities on the back nine, not being able to electrify the crowds and make birdies and eagles when I need to and move up the leaderboard.
“It doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy myself, that I didn’t enjoy the opportunity. I’m certainly going to be disappointed that I wasn’t able to get it done here because I had a great opportunity in that I played really well today.”
Adam Scott’s brilliant final round of 66 included a hole in one at the 16th and swept him into a share of 8th position, just his third top ten in 11 starts in the event and his second best finish after his runner-up effort last year. Scott’s round was bettered only by the 64 of Bo Van Pelt.
“I was playing well, but it’s such a hard golf course it’s not easy just to put it all together because one hole is so crucial,” said Scott.
“There were some tough pin spots out there today and the greens were definitely firm and fast, so fast today. Look, I’m really happy to leave having my best round ever at Augusta, but a little disappointed that I couldn’t put it together earlier in the week."
Geoff Ogilvy continued his good recovery from a slow start to the week with a round of 71 to finish 19th while Aaron Baddeley went the other way and finished 40th.
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