Bubba Watson didn’t misjudge the curving approach shot he hit in the sudden-death playoff that won the former Georgia golfer the Masters Tournament on Sunday.
The 164-yard approach, which hit the center of the green and led to the par that beat South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole of the playoff at Augusta National Golf Club, will no doubt go down as one of the most famous shots in the tournament’s 76-year history because of its difficulty and the situation.
Watson, who said he “blacked out” during the green jacket ceremony, must have done the same thing when asked how he’ll be viewed as a Masters champ.
“Tomorrow, there’s going to be a new tournament and y’all are going to write about other people,” he told the media. “Y’all are going to forget about me tomorrow, you know what I’m saying? I’m going to have to keep living my life and do everything. But for me to come out here and win, it’s awesome for a week and then get back to real life. I don’t really want to be famous or anything like that. I just want to be me and play golf.”
Augusta National member Craig Heatley, the chairman of the media committee for the Masters, was the moderator and had a quick response.
“Bubba, these guys aren’t going to forget about you tomorrow,” Heatley said.
Not after Watson shot 69-71-70-68 to finish at 10-under 278, with 19 birdies. It was the fifth time in the past 10 years that a left-hander (Mike Weir in 2003, Phil Mickelson in 2004, 2006 and 2010) won the Masters.
Watson won with his tee-to-green game, not his work on the greens. He was fourth in the field in both driving distance (290.38 per drive) and greens in regulation (53 of 72) but tied for 37th in putting (120 putts). He made them when they counted on the back nine Sunday when he birdied Nos. 13-16.
The winning putt – a one-footer for par after Oosthuizen made bogey – was one Watson took very seriously.
Later, he said he was flashing back to the final round of the LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 1 and I.K. Kim, who missed a one-foot par putt that would have given her the victory. She then lost a sudden-death playoff.
“I wanted to make sure I focused hard on that putt, because I knew how delicate these situations are and how this may never happen again,” Watson said.
He showed just as much discipline in the final round, which he started three shots off the lead. He followed his game plan of keeping his emotions in check, not even getting rattled when Oosthuizen, his playing partner, made double eagle on No. 2 to take the lead.
“I’ve been working on it a lot, keeping my head down. Breathing, trying to keep calm,” Watson said. “Because I get so amped up. I get so excited. Not a nervous energy. I just get so amped up, and I’m just trying to calm down. So I’m trying to keep my head down in between holes, trying to keep my head down when everyone is screaming, ‘Go Dogs,’ and yelling, ‘Go Bubba.’
“I know they are behind me, and I know people are cheering for me and going for me to make birdies and keep going,” he said. “But I have to do it differently because I get so excited, like a little kid, basically, I get pumped up.”