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Bubba Watson turns in another Masters masterpiece

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — If you remember the first time Bubba Watson won the Masters — heck, the two-year anniversary was just Tuesday — that victory came with high drama and a legendary shot: Watson’s hooked, gap-wedge magic trick to the green from deep in the pine straw on the final playoff hole at Augusta National.

“Made me famous,” Watson acknowledged.

So on Sunday evening when he arrived at the final green with a three-shot advantage and a long, fast birdie putt, Watson simply needed reassurance that he was in such a comfortable position. No theater required.

He turned to his caddie, Ted Scott, for a read.

“I said, ‘I’m not very good at math. But we’ve got four putts [to win], right?’” Watson said. “He said, ‘Yes. So just lag it down there.’”

Watson needed just two putts, and just like that he was a Masters champ again, three shots better than 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt and basking in a major milestone he called “overwhelming.”

He hugged his wife, Angie, and carried his 2-year-old son, Caleb, off the green. He went to Butler Cabin for the champion’s interview. Not far from the 18th green, he accepted a new green jacket from Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne and defending champ Adam Scott.

And yes, Watson got a little misty-eyed.

“Yeah, I’m going to cry,” he said. “Because why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida?”

Here’s why. Over four days here, Watson was an assassin, relaxed but always in attack mode.

He began his charge with a bogey-free 69 on Thursday, delivered five consecutive birdies to surge to the lead Saturday, then closed things out in the final pairing Sunday with a heavy dose of “Bubba Golf.”

Long drives, creative iron play, outside-the-box strategy.

It’s a style Ted Scott described in two words: “Freak show.”

“I’ve played golf with him 40, 50 times in the eight years we’ve been together,” the caddie said. “And every single day I play golf with him or watch him play golf, I just can’t believe it. Like, ‘How do you do that?’”

Even with Spieth grabbing a two-shot lead early, Watson never flinched. He matched Spieth’s birdies on the first two par threes, then turned a two-shot deficit into a two-shot advantage with birdies at Nos. 8 and 9.

For the day, Watson’s short game produced 11 one-putts. His driver, meanwhile, launched Masters missiles, leading to a tournament-best 305.6-yard average off the tee. No drive was more impressive than Sunday’s at 13, a shot that cut a bit too much and clipped some pine branches but still left Watson with only 140 yards to a demanding par five.

“I’ll never forget,” Spieth said of Watson’s tee shot. “I thought it was out of bounds, 70 yards left. And it’s perfect.”

Added Watson: “That’s not the line I really wanted to go on. … I knew I hit it really hard. Obviously, when you get a roar on your tee shot, you know it’s pretty good.”

“Bubba Golf” in a thumbnail: 510-yard par five and Watson went driver, sand wedge, two putts for an easy birdie.

From there, he took a three-shot lead to each of the final five holes. And now he takes his place in a 17-man fraternity of players who have won the Masters more than once.

Spieth’s 72, in the final round of his first Masters, delivered evidence he has the skills and moxie to thrive in big moments. But Watson’s think-big mentality carried him to another incomparable high.

“Again,” Watson said. “Small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets. It’s pretty wild.”

dwiederer@tribune.com

Twitter @danwiederer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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