“I want to hit the incredible shot,” Watson said. “Who doesn’t?”
So he did, and he won the Masters because of it. Before he arrived at his ball, he identified a path that others would deem preposterous. He pulled a wedge, and lashed at the ball, keeping it under the limbs, perhaps 15 feet off the ground, watching it rise when it reached the fairway. It then bent to the right, a swing of perhaps 40 yards, and settled on the green. It set up a ludicrous par that was enough to beat Oosthuizen, who himself arrived in the playoff because of his own bit of craziness — a double-eagle 2 at the par-5 second — and finished another wild Sunday at the Masters with Watson’s first major championship.
“I’ve never had a dream go this far,” Watson said.
Which would seem odd, given how Watson can envision almost any golf shot from any position. Previously long on talent but short on temper, his Masters victory featured four straight birdies on the back nine. It featured his pink driver, one he uses to outright attack the ball, blasting it 325 yards and further in any direction. And it featured tears, so many tears, because Watson is emotional by nature, and he has much in his life about which to be emotional.
“Golf is not my everything,” he said.
More on that later, because for five hours Sunday, golf dominated. Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champ, shook up this Easter Sunday with his historic shot — a 4-iron from 235 yards at the second that ran across the green, the fourth albatross in Masters history, the first at No. 2. With 54-hole leader Peter Hanson making bogey at the first, Oosthuizen was suddenly in the lead, 10 under.
“You’ve got to keep your emotions in place,” he said, “because you think, ‘This is it. This is going to happen.’ ”
Yet the pick at the time still would have been Phil Mickelson, the three-time Masters champ who entered Sunday trailing only Hanson by one. He came to the par-3 fourth two behind Oosthuizen. He took aim left of the flag. The ball sailed further left. With a clang off the railing of the grandstand, Mickelson’s Masters was all but lost.
“If it goes into people and stops right there, no problem,” Mickelson said. “If it goes into the grandstand, no problem.”
Rather, it ricocheted back into the woods. What followed was nothing short of a mess: two swipes at it right-handed that advanced the ball only nominally, his fourth shot flopped into a greenside bunker, and an up-and-down for triple bogey that put Mickelson four shots back. The three times he won from the final group, he shot 69, 69 and 67. Sunday, 70 would have put him in the playoff. He shot 72.