I know I must be spoiled after 2 straight years with compelling Masters Tournament finishes, so after Bubba Watson holed his putt on the 72nd hole of the 2014 Masters Sunday afternoon, I felt I had been cheated. After all, 2 years ago Bubba made one of the best shots I had ever seen on the 10th hole to beat Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff. Yesterday, he couldn’t even make the birdie putt at 18 to put an exclamation point on his victory over rookies Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt.
No matter how you and I look at it, he did win the Masters for a second time in 3 years, and it really wasn’t Bubba’s fault that no one else made a legitimate charge on the back nine. Missing from the hills around Augusta National this year were the cheers from afar when you knew Tiger, or Phil had done something special.
Spieth came out with guns blazing on the front nine and caught Bubba with a left hook when he made birdies at 2, and 4 and then a pair at 6 and 7. But the eighth hole was where the tournament turned for Bubba Watson after the 20 year-old Spieth came away from the par 5 with a bogey.
Bubba counter-punched the youngster with a great birdie at 9 and by the time Jordan collected his thoughts after he couldn’t get the par putt to fall, it was all over. Then the unthinkable happened in Amen Corner when the rookie misjudged the wind and put his tee shot in Rae’s Creek.
There were 6 holes left that were in Bubba’s wheel-house, and he wasn’t going to make a veteran mistake to give away the 3-shot lead. He even 4-wood at 18, a hole he doesn’t like, and cruised into the clubhouse to pick up his second Green Jacket.
I think Jordan Spieth got on cruise control after the success he found early in the round, and in his mind was being sized for a Green Jacket. He learned a hard lesson at Augusta on Sunday, but he had a front row seat to see how it should be done. He will be back, and he will be back with some knowledge he gained the first time around.
For those of you who thought Bubba Watson was a one-hit-wonder, shame on you. He got busy after the last Masters victory in 2012 with life. And like he said in an earlier press conference, he was still celebrating the 2012 win until the 2014 season got started.
“The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, probably on (my caddie) Teddy,” he said. “I went over to him and I said, ‘I’m not very good at math, but we’ve got four putts, right?'”
Bubba has the power and knowledge to win at Augusta. I don’t think he is a candidate for a US or British Open, but he could play well at Ponte Vedre or a PGA Championship down the road. He does however, have the game to be a contender anytime they tee it up at Augusta National, and could be a factor there for at least the next ten years!