AUGUSTA | Bubba Watson had good reason to believe he would win another Masters Tournament on Sunday, from his experience on the course to his green jacket hanging in the champions locker room.
But no one was as surprised as the former University of Georgia golfer said he was as he held it together while Jordan Spieth let it slip away at Augusta National Golf Club.
“I just got lucky enough to have two green jackets,” Watson said Sunday after defeating Spieth and Jonas Blixt by three strokes to finish the tournament at 8 under par. “I’m just trying to keep my tour card every year, and if people say that I’m a good golfer, that’s great.”
If Watson doesn’t consider himself a great golfer, he’s now at least in company with some of them. Other two-time Masters winners include Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and a couple whose names adorn some of the course’s most iconic features, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.
“It’s overwhelming to win twice, to be with the great names that you just said,” Watson said after hearing a few of the two-time winners’ names listed. “Again, a small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets. It’s pretty wild.”
The word wild doesn’t apply to Watson’s final round the way it did in 2012, when he rallied on the final day to force a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen and won with some help from his now famous second shot from the pine straw on the 10th hole.
Watson began the day at 5 under in a tie with Spieth, and while Spieth wowed patrons with some sharp putting and a lead-stealing chip-in from a bunker on the fourth hole, Watson knew his chances would come.
A birdie on No. 6, Watson’s second of the day, put him at 6 under and two shots behind his playing partner. Two more birdies at Nos. 8 and 9 coupled with consecutive bogeys from Spieth gave Watson a two-stroke lead at the turn.
Spieth shot bogey on No. 12 and never recovered, while Watson picked up a shot with a birdie on No. 13 and held tight to his advantage.
This route was much better for Watson’s nerves and those of his caddie, Ted Scott.
“The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, and probably Teddy,” Watson said. “… It’s a lot better for my nerves that way.”
Watson two-putted to finish the round and, after tapping the ball the final few inches into the cup, hunched over his putter and braced himself on his knees before picking up his 2-year-old son, Caleb and sharing a teary moment with his wife, former Georgia basketball standout Angie Ball.
Watson’s emotional scene was reminiscent of what played out on the 10th green two years ago after his playoff victory, when he let loose a few tears on the shoulders of his caddie and mother as his wife watched from their Arizona home just days after they adopted Caleb.
For Watson, the release was again more about appreciating his luck than relief.
“You think about the people that have tried and the hundreds of thousands that have tried to get their tour card and never made it to the tour,” Watson said. “There’s some great players that have never made it. So for me, it’s a dream to be on the PGA Tour. It’s a dream to win, and winning any tournament is a big deal. Winning the green jacket is a little bit bigger deal. So, yeah, I’m going to cry, because why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla.?”