By Doug Halberstadt
The final round of this year’s Masters Tournament once again lived up to all of the pre-promotion and hype that it receives annually. There were two holes in one and a historic double eagle. As exciting as they were, they took a back seat to the real drama: the sudden-death playoff between Gary “Bubba” Watson Jr. and Louis Oosthuizen.
The playoff finish was nothing short of spectacular, if you’re a golf fan, and even pretty darn exciting for those non-golf fans who just happened to be sitting in the same room where a television was tuned to the tournament.
Watson and Oosthuizen were paired up together going into the fourth, and final, round of regulation play. They spent Easter afternoon watching one another execute fabulous shot after fabulous shot. Oosthuizen got it started by making a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 second hole. It was only the fourth double eagle in Masters Tournament history.
After 72 holes of regulation play, Watson and Oosthuizen were tied at 10-under-par. The duo would head to a sudden-death playoff. They headed back to hole No. 18 to try to determine who would walk away wearing this year’s green jacket. After textbook drives, precisely accurate second shots to the green, and routine 2-putts, both players walked away with pars.
Hole No. 10 was where they would tee off next. This time, things were different. Instead of straight-down-the-middle tee shots, both players launched their drives right off the fairway. Watson’s appeared to be much worse than Oosthuizen’s. He was deep in the woods, and had to play his next shot from a bed of pine needles. His next shot was nothing short of miraculous. He blasted out of the woods with a 155-yard hook shot that landed within 10 feet of the flagstick.
Oosthuizen hit his second shot from off the fairway just short of the green. He chipped on to the back edge and two-putted for a bogey.
Watson was now only 10 feet away from his first-ever major championship, and he had two shots to make history. His first putt edged the cup and rolled past by about 6 inches. After carefully lining up the give-me putt, he sank it for a par and the coveted green jacket.
The left-handed Watson has become a fan favorite for several reasons. He claims he has never taken a golf lesson. His “grip it and rip it” style of play has made him one of the longest drivers on tour. His driver has a neon pink shaft. He and his wife, Angie Watson, adopted a 1-month-old baby boy (Caleb) back on March 26.
From all outward appearances, (including his white shirt trimmed in pink and his all-white pants that he chose to wear for the final round of the Masters) and his humble, unassuming demeanor, Watson seems to be a genuinely good guy.
He now has a unique item of clothing that will forever serve as a memory of his victory at the 74th Masters, the green jacket. A very nice memento that possibly one day he’ll be able to pass along to Caleb.
From the April 11-17, 2012, issue