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Bubba Watson Wins His Second Masters

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Watson outplayed rookie Jordan Spieth on Sunday to earn his second green jacket.

Bubba Watson Wins His Second Masters

When Bubba Watson won his first Masters in 2012, his final round featured an iconic shot that will be remembered for years and years in Masters history: the recovery shot on the 10th hole from the pine needles in the right hand trees in a sudden-death playoff. 

Watson won his second Masters title in three years yesterday at Augusta National Golf Club, but his final round didn't have that signature shot. It didn't even have the remarkable string of five straight birdies on the back nine like his second round did on Friday. But Watson didn't need that singular great moment. He put together a solid round that built a lead and maintained it over 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. His experience and shotmaking won him his second green jacket.

Watson entered the final round tied with Spieth for the lead at (-5), and Spieth got out to a hot start. He birdied two of the first four, including a chip-in out of the bunker on the par-three fourth hole. Watson bogeyed the par-four third, and even after a matching birdie on the fourth he found himself with a two-stroke deficit. After Spieth gave one back on the fifth, Watson hit a solid tee shot on the par-three sixth to about 12 feet, and Spieth followed that up with an absolute gem of a shot. He rolled it up to about three feet, stealing back any momentum he had potentially squandered on the previous hole.

Watson's biggest shot of the day likely came on the following putt. He gained his line and rolled in the birdie to stay a shot back of the young Spieth, who practically tapped in his birdie. Dropping two back and letting the whole crowd get behind Spieth could have been a big blow, even on just the sixth hole, but Spieth followed that with another birdie on seven. Instead of a three-stroke lead, Spieth only led by two, and this turned out to be very important.

The tides turned on the final two holes of the front nine. Watson entered them trailing by two, but a pair of birdies coupled with a couple of bogeys by Spieth gave him a two stroke lead heading into the back nine with a three-under 33 to Spieth's one-under 35.

From there, Watson just had to maintain the lead. He bogeyed the tenth, but then rebounded nicely with pars before a final birdie on the par-five 13th. The shotmaking that Spieth displayed on the first seven holes suddenly abandoned him. He became erratic off the tee, and his putter failed him on several birdie attempts. The moment might have simply been too much for the Masters rookie, but Watson had experienced this before. Where Spieth was emotional, Watson was cool and composed en route to victory.

Spieth finished tied for second with Jonas Blixt at (-5), and finishing right behind them at (-4) was Miguel Angel Jimenez. Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar each ended up at (-2) and Lee Westwood was the only other player under par at (-1) for the tournament. At 54, Fred Couples was in contention well into his final round, but he just couldn't build off his opening pair of birdies. He left plenty of birdies out there on the front nine, and then the bogeys piled up on the back nine. Couples always plays Augusta well, and there's always next year for that second green jacket.

One interesting thing to think about is that with Watson's victory, six of the last twelve winners have been lefties. Watson has two, Phil Mickelson has three (2010, 2006 and 2004) and Mike Weir won in 2003. The Masters is the only major tournament that takes place at the same course every year, so the proportion isn't nearly as skewed for the other majors. But something about the course seems to be tailored to lefties, whether it's their ability to play draws (would be a fade for a right-handed player) or something else. It's not like the top lefties on the tour are going away anytime soon. Watson is only 35, and even though Mickelson missed the cut for the first time this year, he's still an elite player on tour. These guys could rattle off a couple more wins soon, so it will be interesting to see if course designers make any adjustments to even the playing field for righties.

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