Bubba Watson added a second green jacket to his wardrobe with a wonderfully steady 69 in the final round of the Masters to finish the tournament at eight under par and beat second-place finishers Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt by three strokes.
In the following tweet from PGA Tour, Watson succinctly summed up his improbable success:
"A small-town guy named Bubba has two Green Jackets." - Bubba Watson pic.twitter.com/upG69kNs8G— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 13, 2014
He offered up more insight about his mindset following the win in this tweet from Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo:
Bubba: "It's a dream to be on the PGA Tour, it's a dream to win. ... So yea, I'm gonna cry." #Masters2014— Ashley Mayo (@AshleyKMayo) April 13, 2014
Watson began the final round tied for the lead with the 20-year-old Spieth at five-under. With 13 players beginning the final round under par, the action got off to a tight and thrilling start.
However, after an early surge, contenders like Fred Couples and Matt Kuchar couldn't keep pace with the leading score. For much of the day, this felt like a two-horse race between Spieth and Watson.
As the back nine progressed, Watson was able to even put Spieth comfortably in the distance, and the 35-year-old added his second Masters title in three years.
Have a look at the final leaderboard:
Couples started his day off with two birdies to move to three-under for the tournament and spark the notion of the 54-year-old winning his second green jacket—and doing so as the oldest Masters champion. Couples quickly cooled, however, and wound up firing a 75.
Still, as the Instagram from the Golf Channel shows, that didn't keep Couples from enjoying the closing moments or the gallery from enjoying the age-defying former champion:
Kuchar grabbed a share of the lead at six-under after a birdie on No. 3, but he four-putted the next hole, which was a par three, and was not a serious threat after. Kuchar steadied but fired a 74 and finished the tournament at two-under.
Meanwhile, Blixt had a strong closing round, but he made no serious charge at Watson while finishing at five-under with a 71 on the closing day. As a result, the majority of the focus remained fixed on the final group, and what a show they put on. Both players fought off the early nerves well.
It was Spieth, however, who got the early advantage with a birdie on the second hole in his bid to become the youngest Masters champ in history.
Watson then suffered a bogey on the third hole, putting Spieth up by two.
On the par-three fourth hole, Spieth landed in a front bunker. Meanwhile, Watson went pin hunting and had an easy birdie look. It looked like a two-shot swing between the two was moments away.
Then, this happened:
Watson sank his birdie putt, but he missed a chance to gain ground on Spieth after the remarkable bunker shot. No matter for Watson, as the booming lefty had plenty more birdies up his sleeve. Watson birdied three of the last four holes on the front side.
Looking like destiny was calling, Spieth birdied holes six and seven to move to three-under on the day. That is when the unbelievably poised Masters rookie began to see the moment catch up with him.
Spieth bogeyed the final two holes of the front and watched his two-stroke lead over Watson turn into a two-shot deficit.
Looking at two putts around 5 feet for par on eight and nine, Spieth watched both slide harmfully off the lip.
Watson bogeyed the 10th, and with Spieth regrouping to par the first two holes of the back, he took just a one-stroke lead into the par-three 12th.
As so many ill-fated shots before, Spieth's tee effort splashed down in the water in front of the green. Watson got up and down for par and Spieth made a tough 10-foot putt to save a bogey on the hole and trail Watson by just two.
Bubba further seized momentum with a monstrous drive on the par-five 13th. Golf Digest caught the moment:
Bubba's HUGE drive measured in at 366 yards, leaving him 144 yards to the hole. #TheMasters— Golf Digest (@GolfDigestMag) April 13, 2014
After a poor approach, Watson left himself this putt for birdie:
With Spieth sinking a par putt, Watson's lead was up to three.
There was a big opportunity for a turnaround on the par-five 15th when Watson found the trees with his drive. With a three-shot lead, Watson could have opted for the punch out that landed in front of the water.
To the amazement of all, he opted to go for it. PGA Tour does a nice job of summing up the reasoning:
Laying up isn't allowed in "Bubba Golf." At 15, he goes for the green in two with a punch through the trees and over the water. #Masters— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 13, 2014
Watson's shot rolled off the back of the green, and he wound up "settling" for par to maintain a three-stroke lead.
Watson was relaxed the rest of the way and maintained his three-stroke lead by finishing out with a string of pars.
Coming into this season, Watson had been in a bit of a funk since winning his first green jacket. He's been tremendous this year. The win at Augusta was his second of the season, and he has now been in the top 10 in seven of his 10 PGA starts.
Given his form, it is not out of the question that Watson could win another major this year. Although Augusta suits his game well, when Watson is putting as well as he has this year, he will be a factor in most tournaments.
The next major is the U.S. Open, which will be held at the famed Pinehurst No. 2. To be sure, U.S. Open golf doesn't fit Watson's game as well, but as he proved at Augusta, it is never safe to count him out.