The sun was setting behind Augusta National’s soaring pine trees as Masters Chairman Billy Payne’s voice came over the loudspeaker.
The area near the clubhouse was converted to an awards stage, with dozens of Augusta National Golf Club members in green jackets sitting in rows beside the podium waiting for the big moment.
Around the roped-off area, hundreds of patrons were shoulder to shoulder, craning their necks to get a glimpse of the newest Masters champion.
Bubba Watson, a 33-year-old Florida native and University of Georgia graduate, had just won his first Masters, inciting a roar of Southern pride among patrons.
“Bubba, Bubba, Bubba!” they shouted as Watson walked to meet Payne at the podium.
Payne began the ceremony by thanking the club’s foreign and American golf partners. He recognized the 1,100 volunteers who make the tournament possible and the patrons who support the sport.
Before Watson slipped into the green jacket, Payne recognized Patrick Cantlay as the tournament’s low amateur, noting how proud the club was of the UCLA sophomore.
“It was a wonderful week and a dream come true for me to play here,” Cantlay said.
Payne recognized 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who then slipped the green jacket on Watson.
Watson waited for the cheering to die down, then gave props to his alma mater.
“To all my fans, you got to say, ‘Go Dogs,’” Watson said.
He thanked “his lord and savior Jesus Christ” and said the last nine holes were just a blur to him now.
Before he jumped on a golf cart to be whisked away for interviews, he passed a line of patrons, giving high-fives and smiles to the hundreds chanting his name.
“This day means so much more than putting on this green jacket,” he said.