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Hubba, Hubba, Bubba!
Bubba Watson hit what will become one of the most memorable shots in the history of golf - not surprisingly a hook - out of the pine straw on the second playoff hole to 10 feet, then nestled his birdie try next to the cup and tapped in for par to beat Louis Oosthuizen and win the 76th Masters Tournament.
The two players - paired in the next-to-last group - finished tied in regulation at 10-under 278 after Watson, a native of Bagdad, Fla,, closed with a 4-under 68 and his South African counterpart a 69. Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, had the shot of the day earlier in the round, sinking his 260-yard second shot on the par-5 second for the fourth double-eagle in Masters history, and the first ever on that hole.
But Watson, who started the final round with a three-putt bogey and had two birdies on the front nine, held tough. After a bogey on the famed par-3 12th, the 33-year-old reeled off four straight birdies and got pars on the last two holes to tie Oosthuizen.
On the first playoff hole, the 18th, both players had a chance to win outright but both had two-putt pars. On the next playoff hole, the uphill par-4 10th, Watson and Oosthuizen both hit bad tee shots that went right. From 230 yards out in the second cut of rough, Oosthuizen hit short of the green and chipped well past the cup with his third.
Watson, who's never taken a lesson and never seen his golf swing on video, preferring to play by feel, then hit one of his magical bending shots from the woods from 155 yards to 10 feet. Putting first, Oosthuizen missed his par attempt and Watson two-putted for the cherished green jacket.
"It was a great day," said Oosthuizen. "We had a lot of fun. I had an opportunity on 10, but he hit an incredible shot there. Good stuff for him. He deserves it."
When the final putt disappeared, Watson turned to his caddie for a huge hug, Watson's shoulders heaving and him visibly sobbing. His mother Molly joined the embrace; she was followed by Watson's good friends on Tour, Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley. (Watson's wife Angie was home with their two-week-old baby, Caleb.)
As far as his final round, Watson said later in the Butler Cabin, "I kept my head down, 'cause I knew there were birdies and eagles out there. As far as the playoff, I can't remember."
Before the green jacket presentation the left-handed Watson described his heroic shot: "I was over there earlier in the day, so I was used to it. I had a good lie. I had an opening. I'm pretty good at hooking it, so I just hooked it up there onto the green."
When asked what the Masters - and his first ever major - title meant to him, he added, "It never got this far in my dreams. To go home to my new son, it's going to be fun."
The 2011 Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel, a longtime buddy of Oosthuizen's and fellow South African, placed the 42-long green jacket around Watson's shoulders, to which Watson responded, "It's nice - I look like you now."
On a day with several amazing shots - in addition to Bubba's hook-from-the-pine-straw-in-the-trees and Oosthuizen's albatross, there were two holes-in-one, both on the 16th hole. They were shot by Bo Van Pelt and Scott. Van Pelt's ace helped give him an 8-under 64, which tied the lowest round in the final round of a Masters. Van Pelt also had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th.
"We'd all like to pick and choose when we have a good round, but we don't get to do that," Van Pelt said later. "So you've just got to keep trying to do the same things week in and week out, trying to get better, and then some days you shoot 64 on the first day and you end up winning the golf tournament."
Sharing third at 280 were England's Lee Westwood (68), Matt Kuchar (69), Sweden's Peter Hanson (73) and Phil Mickelson (72). Hanson began the final round with a one-shot lead over Mickelson, but struggled with two bogeys on the front nine and a bogey on the back alongside just two birdies.
Seeking his fourth Masters title, Mickelson came undone when he triple-bogeyed the par-3 fourth, with two of those shots out of the underbrush coming club-flipped-over, right-handed. (Mickelson and Watson are two of the three southpaw Masters champions in the past 10 years - Canadian Mike Weir won in 2003.) It was Lefty's second triple of the week. He managed three birdies to reach level par but that wasn't enough to get into the playoff. "Had a lot of chances on the back nine, but I just couldn't get it done," said Mickelson, who still logged his eighth top-three finish in the Masters.
If he'd have won in the playoff, Oosthuizen would have joined some illustrious names - Sam Snead Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo - in being the only players to win the British Open at St. Andrews and the Masters at Augusta National.
Kuchar attended Georgia Tech and was the low amateur in the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open. He made a great charge early on the back nine, with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 and a near hole-out for a double-eagle on the 15th, which he eagled. But a bogey on the 16th and a pair of pars on 17 and 18 kept one of the gallery favorites from entering the playoff.
Pre-tournament picks Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will be happy to see Augusta in their rear-view mirrors. The 22-year-old McIlroy, the No. 2-ranked player in golf, carded rounds of 77 and 76 over the weekend to finish in a tie for 40th at 5-over 293, the same aggregate score as four-time champion Woods, who shot a 74 Sunday en route to his worst-ever finish in the Masters.
After opening with a 75, 73 and 75, No. 1-ranked Luke Donald tried hard Sunday, closing with a nice 68 to end up sharing 32nd at 291.
The low amateur and 2012 Silver Cup recipient was Patrick Cantlay, a sophomore at UCLA. The 20-year-old went out in 2-under 34 thanks to an eagle on the par-4 seventh, then carded another eagle on the 15th to overtake 54-hole amateur leader, Hideki Matsuyama, who struggled to an 8-over 80 Sunday.
For all the scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/masters/2012/scoring/index.cfm.
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