As Mickelson and third-round leader Peter Hanson walked to the second tee, the red “7” by Oosthuizen’s name transformed into a red “10.” Suddenly, just when this day seemed to be shaped perfectly for him, Mickelson was two shots behind. So composed in recent years, Phil reverted. Not for long, but too long for a fourth green jacket.
At the brutal 240-yard par-3 fourth hole, he may have cost himself a spot in this playoff, turning what probably should have been a bogey into a hideous triple bogey. After slicing far left into weeds behind bleachers, Mickelson slashed at two ugly shots righthanded — one moved a few inches, the other almost hit his own leg — before dumping a flop shot into a trap. He got up and down, but that glimpse of Old Phil, so seldom seen, was haunting when he ended up tied for third two shots behind.
Afterward, Watson was his most soft-hearted open self, drawing laughs by saying “Oh, I dreamt about winning the Masters but I just never made the putt.” More important to him, less than two weeks ago, he and Angie adopted their son. “We knew when we were married that she couldn’t have children,” said Watson. The couple was turned down twice. This time they got their little boy.
“I haven’t changed a diaper yet,” said Watson, who looked like he couldn’t wait.
Watson will always be remembered as the man who saw the albatross up close and then overcame the single most devastating shot in his sport — one shot better than watching your foe make a hole-in-one. No, I didn’t see it. I was one hole away with Mickelson. But the couple of thousand people who did see it will never forget it.
“Unbelievable, just unbelievable,” said 63-year-old Ranny Reynolds from Reston, with his wife Ulli. “Oosthuizen was outdriven by 30 yards by Bubba Watson. We thought he was going to lay up, like most of them had done all day.
“But he hit it through the opening in the middle of the green. It was weird. The ball turned dead right and went wandering down, wandering down — took forever — until it dropped in.”
All day, you suspected, you almost knew, that the last roll of Oosthuizen’s deuce would be the deciding inch. Some shots are so shockingly memorable, super-charged with a mix of talent and luck that they seem ordained to prevail. Yet this one didn’t. That’s why Watson’s win moves far higher in the Masters pantheon. He saw it. He took the blow. And he kept chasing until Oosthuizen, who never faltered, had been caught.
That makes him an ideal Masters winner, that and one other quirk. It took 76 years, but the ultimate all-Bubba club finally has a Bubba for its champion.
For more columns from Thomas Boswell, see washingtonpost.com/boswell.