The final round of the 2012 Masters had all the drama a golf fan could handle — so much, in fact, that it required two extra holes to determine a winner. But on the par-4 10th, American Bubba Watson produced the one of the most remarkable shots of a tournament full of them. His stunning second shot from the pine straw assured victory South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, and earned the 33-year-old his first green jacket. As Barry Svlurga reported:
Anyone else who walked down the 10th fairway at Augusta National Sunday evening, with the Masters still to be decided, would have seen disaster. Bubba Watson saw only an opening. His ball sat on pine straw, beyond the gallery to the right of the fairway, pines looming over it. Jail.
(Matt Slocum/AP) - Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, and his caddie Wynand Stander react after Oosthuizen's double eagle two on the par 5 second hole during the fourth round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 8, 2012, in Augusta, Ga.
(Streeter Lecka/GETTY IMAGES) - Bubba Watson (R) of the United States hugs Ben Crane (L) of the United States after winning his sudden death playoff against Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa on the second playoff hole during the 2012 Masters Tournament by one stroke at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.
Watson, though, plays a Gumby-like version of golf, able to stretch shots around corners that seem to be square, creating openings where others see walls. “Bubba Golf,” he calls it. Its marketing slogan: If I have a swing, I’ve got a shot. It could be in a Tuesday practice round. It could be in a playoff at the Masters, with South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen — a beautifully straight striker of the ball — looming at the edge of the fairway.
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.
While Watson’s creativity ruled the day, it was Oosthuizen who provided the rarest of highlights on Sunday at Augusta. As Thomas Boswell wrote:
After covering all these Masters, I was one hole away, following Phil Mickelson, when Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa made his double eagle at the 575-yard par-5 second hole on Easter Sunday at the Masters.
The genuinely miraculous shot, never before accomplished on that long swooping dog-leg-left hole in the previous 76 Masters, instantly vaulted Oosthuizen from third place into a stunning two-shot lead over Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson.
The pair, playing one group behind, who didn’t even know what had befallen them until they approached the second green and saw that the red “7” with which Oosthuizen had started the day had suddenly transformed itself into a crimson “10.”
Thousands of fans saw The Albatross — which is a stroke better than a mere hole-in-one. The sighting is so rare it’s occurred only four times in all of Masters history, including Gene Sarazen’s famous double-eagle at the 15th in ’35, which led him to a green jacket and helped make the Masters an iconic American event.