by Jeff Skinner
The membership of Augusta National better get ready. There’s a new green jacket in town and he’s like no other. Not since the likes of Sam Snead has there been such a champion that exudes the qualities of a down home country boy. For years Sam Snead was the country boy that won The Masters. But now Bubba Watson will make Sam look like a sophisticated aristocrat. Look for “The General Lee” parked in the champion’s parking lot and for the Golf Boys to perform at The Champions Dinner.
Watson started the day three off the lead and had a front row seat to see how things can change so quickly at The Masters. He was paired with Louis Oosthuizen and watched on the second hole as Oosthuizen’s ball rolled in from 265 yards out for an albatross. That was a sign of how you can never predict how the day will play out at Augusta.
The crowd favorite was Phil Mickelson and in their eyes this was to be his day but a triple bogey meltdown at the par three fourth put Mickelson in a hole he couldn’t dig out of. With Mickelson out of the running Bubba was adopted by the fans as the American Hope.
For awhile it looked like Oosthusizen would claim his second major but Watson played a different brand of golf today that allowed him to catch the South African and force a playoff.
Watson has the reputation as the longest hitter in the game but length is only part of his game. He works the ball with hooks and slices like no one else in the game. It served him well as he needed all of his skill to get around Augusta.
Watson also has the reputation of being too excitable and emotional for his own good. Often we have seen him lose it on the course after a poor shot or missed putt. His weakness has been his putter and he ranks 152nd on The PGA Tour in strokes gained putting. The greens of Augusta National are the toughest in the world and could have brought Watson down.
But this was a different Bubba Watson we saw down the stretch today. When the tournament heated up he kept his cool. There was ample opportunity for Watson to revert back to his ways of letting his emotions get the best of him. But today when the pressure mounted Watson responded with clutch shots and a steady putter which helped him birdie four straight holes on the second nine and tie Oosthuzien and force a playoff.
On the second playoff hole Watson lost his drive way right but wasn’t about to settle for a safe chip out. He hit one of the most amazing shots in championship golf as he hooked a wedge off the pine straw, out of the trees onto the green for the shot that eventually led to his win. It was a clutch shot at a crunch time and Watson showed the nerve of a champion even before he earned the green jacket.
Watson is a bit of a character and he’ll test the limits of decorum at Augusta National. The members at Augusta truly appreciate their champions and with the way Watson finished today we should appreciate not only his skill with a golf club but the way he kept his composure under pressure.