AUGUSTA, Georgia — One of golf’s most exciting players squeezed most of the drama out of the Masters on Sunday. That’s just fine with Bubba Watson.
All he cared about was slipping into that green jacket.
Instead of hitting a 40-yard hook out of a forest of Georgia pines — the signature shot in his playoff victory two years ago — the final act Sunday at Augusta National took place on the 18th green. Watson had a three-shot lead and consulted with his caddie on a 15-foot birdie putt.
“I went over to him and I said, ‘I’m not very good at math, but we’ve got four putts, right?’” Watson said.
This was more about great golf than Bubba golf.
Watson kept his poise during an early burst of birdies from 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, turned the tournament in his favor with consecutive two-shot swings to close out the front nine, and coasted to a 3-under 69 to win the Masters by three shots over Spieth and Jonas Blixt of Sweden.
“Small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets,” Watson said. “It’s pretty wild.”
Watson made it look routine over the final hour. On a Sunday when Spieth was trying to become the youngest winner in Masters history and 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez had a chance to become the oldest major champion, Watson turned in another masterpiece and joined an elite group as the 17th player to win multiple Masters.
Surprisingly for Augusta, the most compelling action was on the front nine.
His only nervous moment was a drive so mammoth around the corner on the 13th hole that it clipped a few trees and still went some 360 yards, leaving just a sand wedge into the par 5. That was his lone birdie on the back nine. No one got closer than three shots the rest of the way.
“The shot out of the woods made me famous,” Watson said. “But this one was a lot better for me and my nerves.”
This was nothing like the Masters he won two years ago, especially when it was over.
His wife and newly adopted son were home in Florida in 2012 when Watson made four straight birdies on the back nine and won on the second playoff hole with his great escape out of the trees.
When he tapped in for par on 18, there was 2-year-old Caleb — decked out in a green-and-white striped Masters shirt and green tennis shoes — walking toward him. Watson had tears streaming down his face when he scooped him up, a prize as great as the green jacket.
“Seeing him back there … what an amazing feeling as a parent,” he said. “And then throw on the green jacket on top of it just changes everything.”
After high-fiving the crowd on his way to sign his card, Watson returned to Butler Cabin to take back that green jacket after slipping it on Adam Scott a year ago.
Watson finished at 8-under 280 and goes to a career-best No. 4 in the world.