Watson wins again with masterful final round at Augusta

Watson wins again with masterful final round at Augusta

April 14th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Defending Masters' champion Adam Scott, of Australia, congratulates Bubba Watson, right, after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Bubba Watson hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the fourth round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.

Bubba Watson hits out of a bunker on...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

AUGUSTA, Ga. - It's tradition for the caddie for the winning player to take the flag the 18th hole of the Masters.

Ted Scott, working for Bubba Watson, put his own twist on the tradition. He took the entire flagstick and carried it around below the famous oak tree outside the Augusta National clubhouse, which has witnessed golfers become champions and champions become legends.

"I can't get the flag off," Scott said Sunday, hustling to the practice green in time to catch the green-jacket ceremony.

Whether it's just the flag or the entire yellow stick, Watson has another addition to his trophy case as well as a replacement for the green jacket he won in 2012 that resides at the end of Magnolia Lane.

Watson displayed his length off the tee, his creativity with his irons, and enough touch with his putter over four days to shoot an 8-under 280, which topped Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt by three strokes.

"It's overwhelming, you know, to win twice, to be with the great names," said Watson, who became the 17th golfer to win multiple Masters. "Again, small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets. It's pretty wild."

Spieth and Watson were tied at 5 under to start the day. But as the afternoon began to fade -- in the final round that swung four shots in two holes before the turn -- Spieth made the mistakes of a rookie playing on Sunday at the Masters, and Watson made the shots befitting a champion.

"Bubba Watson is a deserving Masters champion this year, and that was some incredible golf he played down the stretch," Spieth said. "It stings right now, and the only thing I'm thinking about is, 'When am I getting back next year?' That's what's on my mind, because it's tough being in this position."

Nobody else -- not Blixt, fourth-place finisher Miguel Angel Jimenez, fifth-place finishers Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler, or seventh-place Lee Westwood -- challenged Watson on the scoreboard.

Blixt made just two birdies all day. Jimenez, the 50-year-old Spaniard, shot 2 over on the front to end his chances.

Fowler, one of Watson's best friends on the PGA Tour, plateaued on the front and needed a curling 40-foot putt on No. 9 to save par and shoot even on the front. Bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 melted his chances.

"It was a rough driving day for me," Fowler said. "I just drove it poorly today, so that kind of kept me from being able to attack the golf course."

Westwood bogeyed his third hole, double-bogeyed the fourth and faded away so far that CBS rarely showed his shots. Fred Couples, who shot 75 and tied for 21st, received more air-time than Westwood.

There wasn't much action to be shown down the stretch. The top-seven finishers combined to make two birdies over the final four holes and both belonged to Westwood, with a bogey tossed in as well.

That allowed Watson to meander up the 18th fairway with wife, Angie, and adopted son, Caleb, waiting behind the green and thousands of patrons applauding his convincing win at Augusta. He needed a two-hole playoff and a curling wedge-shot from behind trees and off pine-needles to topple Louis Oosthuizen in 2012.

"The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, probably on Teddy," Watson said. "Playing this way was a lot better, a lot easier coming down the last few holes, especially the last hole, knowing that I had a couple shots to play with."

Watson carried Caleb from the 18th green, through a canyon of applauding patrons, and to the scoring room where signing his card made the victory official and donning a green jacket ceremonial.

Augusta National officials may have been preparing a different, smaller-sized jacket for the traditional ceremony. Spieth led by two after three holes. He birdied No. 4 by holing out a bunker shot, but Watson matched him. Spieth bogeyed No. 5, and they both birdied No. 6, which seemed to set up a two-man showdown.

Then the scoreboard flipped in a matter of two holes.

"Eight and nine were the turning points of the day," Spieth said later.

A chip on Spieth's third shot on the par-5 No. 8 left him more than 20 feet for birdie. He three-putted for a bogey while Watson got up and down for birdie. They were tied.

On the uphill par-4 No. 9, Spieth's approach to the front hole location came up short and rolled back into the fairway. He chipped and two-putted for a bogey. Watson curled his approach to about 10 and made the curling left-to right putt for a birdie. He led by two.

"Eight and nine were really the turning point where momentum kind of went my way," Watson said. "Then the group in front of us and other groups, you could just tell, just nobody really caught fire. There wasn't too many birdies after No. 10."

That's where Watson opened the door just a little with a bogey.

"And I had a putt on 11 to get back to tied," Spieth said. "So from there on, he played incredible golf."

And Spieth couldn't match him, especially after his tee shot into the par-3 No. 12 hit the bank and rolled back into Rae's Creek. Watson cut the corner on No. 13 and approached the green with a wedge, then two-putted for a three-shot lead. They parred-out from there allowing Watson to enjoy his walk from the 18th teeing ground all the way to the clubhouse.

"It's a dream to win, and winning any tournament is a big deal," Watson said. "Winning the green jacket is a little bit bigger deal. So, yeah, I'm going to cry."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twittter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.