2014 Masters, Day 4: Hubba Bubba
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/13/14
Bubba Watson has captured his second Masters Tournament victory and green jacket in three years. But early this afternoon, it seemed as though the result might be different.

And of all the other players in the field, only Matt Kuchar was able to catch up to either of them at any point. Kooch fell out of the running with a disastrous four-putt double-bogey at the 4th hole, and it was a two-man race from there.

Turning point after turning point

With a birdie at the 2nd hole, first-time Masters competitor Jordan Spieth grabbed a share of the lead at the Masters for the first time ever, at 3:10 p.m. EDT.

At the third hole, Bubba hit a long tee shot to in front of the green, drawing criticism from CBS commentators Peter Oosterhuis and Sir Nick Faldo who, himself, won The Masters three times. The two Englishmen explained to viewers that Bubba's third shot left him a difficult pitch to the far left hole location. Oosterhuis and Faldo proved prescient; Bubba flubbed his chip, sending it over the back of the green. His chip came up 11 feet short and resulted in a bogey. Spieth holed his par-saver to take the solo lead.

At the 4th, Watson righted the ship with a magnificent tee-shot to about six feet. Spieth came up short in the bunker, but holed a dramatic sand wedge for a birdie. Unfazed, Bubba holed his own birdie putt to get back to -5.

Following a bogey at the 5th, Bubba birdied, but seconds later Spieth did the same to regain a one-shot lead at -7. At the 7th, Spieth correctly read a tricky downhiller to get back to a two-shot lead.

Amazingly, that was the high point of the day (and the tournament) for the 20-year-old Texan; it all came apart for him beginning at the 8th hole.

Eight Is Enough

On that 570-yard uphill monster, Spieth curiously took a fairway metal off the tee, then slashed his second shot way right in what was his poorest shot of the day — up until that minute, anyway. Bubba absolutely cranked his tee shot, then reached the green with his second — in fact, an unlucky bounce took the ball off the back of the green. Spieth's third had a surprising amount of spin and would not filter up to the top shelf of the green, and his par-saver simply would not fall. Bubba got up-and-down to birdie, so Spieth's two-shot lead evaporated at that point; he and Watson were tied at -7, three shots ahead of Kuchar.

The so-called "conventional wisdom" is that the Masters really begins at the 10th tee on Sunday, but this fallacy was destroyed at the 9th hole on Sunday. The final turning point occurred on the green, when Spieth's approach rolled off the front of the green into a collection area. Bubba powered his approach to the top shelf, hole-high, and it held there. Another par-saving putt failed to fall for Spieth, while Bubba birdied.

That four-shot swing in two holes proved to be the climax.

Watson's only costly mistake came at 10, when his pitch from off the green to the right went clear across to the other side, resulting in a bogey. But Spieth's tee-shot at the famous 12th hole bounced off the front embankment and plopped into Rae's Creek, resulting in a bogey. The young Texan was clearly frustrated by his inability to make his best efforts produce the way they did on the first seven holes. Moments later, Bubba unleashed a nuclear tee-shot at 13 that was so impressive that Spieth said afterward that he would never forget it.

"He's lost his marbles!!"

Watson had, in the eyes of many fans and observers, a somewhat tenuous hold on his game this week, but the skeptics had to be astonished at the way Bubba played the 15th. He lost his tee-shot left, behind a stand of tall pines.

But when he pulled a long iron out of the bag for his second shot and aimed right between the pines, CBS's David Feherty gasped, "He's lost his marbles! To even consider that shot in the position he's in!!"

But Bubba absolutely wired that second highlight-film shot through the trees, onto and over the green. And even though he foozled his chip, he still saved par, while Spieth could not get a birdie putt to go in. The pair headed to the 16th green with Watson still ahead by three, and Spieth got no closer.

By virtue of a birdie at the 13th, Sweden's Jonas Blixt tied Spieth at -5. Only 50-year-old Spaniard Miguel Ángel Jiménez could keep up with them, finishing at -4.

Ultimately, four rookies finished in the top twelve, qualifying for the 2015 Masters: Spieth, Blixt, Jimmy Walker, and Kevin Stadler. Youth did not win at Augusta National this week, but youth was definitely served.

Port-siders

Finally and interestingly, six of the last 12 Masters Tournaments have been won by left-handed golfers: Mike Weir (2003), Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010), and Bubba Watson (2012, 2014).

Fore left, indeed.


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Image via Twitter, The Masters


[ comments ]
jpjeffery says:
Well played, Bubba.

And dang it if I didn't get something in both of my eyes just after he won...
4/13/14
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I would loved to have seen Spieth win it but happy for Bubba as well.
4/13/14
 
falcon50driver says:
He didn't say "Wow I'm one of the 5 best golfers in the world"
4/13/14
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
Falcon: Excellent point. I didn't hear any interviews from Patrick Reed saying that, either. (rimshot)
4/14/14
 
DougE says:
Watching Bubba pull off some of the crazy shots he does makes for a fun time in front of the TV. His imagination and guts on the course rivals any of the best who have played the game. No lessons, no coach, two green jackets. Really happy for him.
4/14/14
 
jrbizzle says:
I love the way Nantz out it, though not verbatim. Bubba: He may cry like a baby but he hits it like a man
4/14/14
 
joe jones says:
The 9th hole has played a big part in deciding the masters in many years. That false front causes as many problems as any shot on that course. When Norman lost to Faldo that shot was what really started his downfall. You must play it with as little spin as possible or it will run down to the bottom of the hill. Spieth should have watched Crenshaw's review of how to play the hole.
4/14/14
 
joe jones says:
Augusta requires a masterful short game as much as any course in the world. Chipping must be masterful (no pun intended) and great putting saves the day. Bubba had some unbelievable one putts. God ,I would love to have an opportunity to putt those greens. I played Oakmont which has historically had the most difficult greens in the world but Augusta. WOW!
4/14/14
 
GBogey says:
It was a real struggle trying to figure out who to pull for. Happy for Bubba, but also wanted Spieth to win. Nice to have good options.
4/14/14
 
legitimatebeef says:
Woods's youngest Masters winner record is safe for now, until the next snot nose comes along. I'm sure that was some consolation for Tiger sitting at home watching on TV. That said it was great to see Jordan playing so well. Anyone follows pro golf even on a casual level for the last couple years can see how this guy is steadily getting better. In this Rickie Fowler world we live in it's nice to see that a kid like Jordan can make a name for himself the old-fashioned way.
4/14/14
 
dottomm says:
When Bubba hit his drive 360yds+ on # 13 in the final round. It was over. He's probably going to keep winning there with drives like that.
4/14/14
 
Jattruia says:
I can't believe i live in a world where Bubba has two green jackets. It was a fun final round, but not an ounce of me was pulling for Bubba.
4/14/14
 
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