As it turns out, the third-round 74 was an aberration and not a trend, as Bubba Watson took control on the eighth and ninth holes at Augusta National on Sunday and eased to his second green jacket at the 2014 Masters Tournament. His winning total of eight under par 280 answered a lot of questions which lingered overnight about where his game was headed coming into the final 18 holes.
Watson began the day tied for the lead with 20-year old boy wonder Jordan Spieth, who was seeking to win the Masters Tournament on his first try. For the first seven holes it looked like his dreams would come true. With four birdies in the first seven holes, highlighted by a hole-out from the bunker on the fourth, Spieth found himself leading the tournament by two shots. It was not as if Watson was chunking the ball around out there, as he was one under for the day at that point.
An old adage says that the Masters Tournament does not really begin until the back nine on Sunday, but Bubba Watson decided to start and end things a few holes early. Trailing by two shots, Watson went birdie- birdie on the eighth and ninth holes, while Spieth went bogey- bogey. Just like that a two-stroke deficit had become a two-stroke advantage. Even though there were nine holes left, and even though there were players who could challenge, Bubba would not give up the lead. After a bogey on 10 and a birdie on 13, Watson would simply make pars the rest of the way and take a stress-free walk up the final fairway at Augusta National.
This is the second time around for Watson to win the iconic green jacket of the Masters Tournament, and he said this one was “a lot different.” He said his first win in 2011 was one he “almost lucked into” and this year’s included a lot of hard work and dedication, adding that after giving the jacket away last year “I kind of wanted it back.” He went on to say that in the past year he’s learned how to manage his time and practice sessions better, so maybe his effort to come back and win again next year won’t be a difficult as it was in 2012.
Spieth made a good showing of himself, finishing in a tie for second place with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt at five under. After his round he said the day “was so much fun. I took it all in” said Spieth, and even though the final round did not go his way he said he’ll take a lot away from the day and “I’ll be back. I know I’ll be back.” Spieth’s round of even par 72 on Sunday was his worst round of the tournament.
Miguel Angel Jimenez came in alone in fourth place. The 50-year old Spaniard had five birdies and four bogeys for a final round 71 and a total of four under par 284. Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar were next at two under 282. Fowler was in the mix until back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11. Kuchar had birdies on two of his first three holes of the Masters Tournament final round, but played four over from there and never got things going again.
Now that Bubba Watson has taken the Masters Tournament for this year, the next big stop for the PGA will be in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL for the Players Championship May 8- 11. The next major tournament is the U.S. Open June 12-15 at Pinehurst in North Carolina.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky