AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson claimed his second Masters title on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club by taking control of the final round with three birdies late on the front nine and then cruising to a three-shot victory.
Watson, who won his first major tournament at the 2012 Masters, shot a final-round 69 to finish at eight-under-par 280.
Jordan Spieth, a 20-year-old Masters rookie from Texas who began Sunday as co-leader with Watson at five under, shot even par for the day to finish tied at five under with Sweden's Jonas Blixt, who had a final-round 71 while playing in his first Masters tournament.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, a 50-year-old Spaniard who jumped into contention Saturday with a six-under 66, finished fourth at four-under 284 after a 71. The only other golfers to finish under par were Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar at two under and England's Lee Westwood at one under.
Watson, a 6-foot-3 left-handed player from Florida, had fallen behind Spieth by two shots early Sunday, but he forged a tie with birdies at Nos. 6 and 8 before pulling ahead by two shots with a birdie at No. 9, where Spieth had a second consecutive bogey.
"I don’t remember the last few holes, I just remember hanging on and thinking 'make pars, make pars,'" Watson said before he was presented with the ceremonial green jacket by last year's champion, Adam Scott.
"The first one for me, it’s almost like I lucked into it. After giving it away last year, I wanted it back. I told Adam we could just swap it back and forth every year. This one was a lot of hard work and dedication."
Watson earned a tournament-record $1.62 million for the victory, his eighth as a pro and sixth on the PGA Tour. The Masters paid out a record $9 million in prize money.
Spieth, playing in his first Masters, was unflappable early Sunday afternoon, firing out of the gates with two birdies on his first four holes to build a two-shot lead.
Spieth’s second birdie of the day came out of the bunker on the 240-yard, par-three fourth hole, a brilliant shot that sent him to seven under. Watson putted for his birdie at No. 4 moments later to stay within two shots of Spieth.
After Watson moved back into a tie with Spieth, the left-hander hit his approach pin high at No. 9 and then rolled in the putt to make the turn at three-under 33.
Watson stumbled a bit with a bogey No. 10, but Spieth hit a shot into the water at No. 12 and made bogey. Watson stretched his lead at No. 13 with a booming drive that set up a two-putt birdie to move to eight under.
Even though Watson failed to hold onto the lead in the third round, he left Augusta National in good spirits.
"The greens were the firmest I'd seen in years," Watson said of struggling to hold off Spieth for a share of the third-round lead. "I'm not too worried about what went on … and if I play bad [Sunday], I still have a green jacket."
Spieth was trying to become the youngest Masters champion, and the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win in his first start at Augusta National.
Conditions were excellent again, with mostly sunny skies and temps in the low 80s.
Spieth is a massive talent who has nine top-10 finishes in 23 PGA Tour events. He is ranked 13th in the world. But this is his first time in contention at a major, and his caddie is also green.
When Zoeller won 25 years ago, he had veteran caddie Jerry Beard guiding him. On Spieth’s bag is Michael Grenner, 36, who spent 10 years teaching the sixth grade.
“Maybe we’re too dumb to know what we’re doing,” Grenner joked.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times