April 8, 2012
Oosthuizen albatross didn't faze Bubba
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI AGENCY
It’s only fitting that a guy named Bubba is wearing a green jacket, a well-deserved victory in the Georgia pines since it required a tester out of the woods on the second playoff hole Sunday at the Masters.
The 153-yard wedge out of the woods engineered by Bubba Watson on the 10th hole required a 40-yard hook that magically stuck close to set up the clincher against 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen.
Watson’s clutch shot was an example of what Phil Mickelson had pointed out when he was just one shot off the lead going into the final round. Mickelson said he would need to take advantage of birdie holes, while realizing the nasty bite that Augusta can inflict.
Mickelson found that out quickly on the par-three fourth hole where he took a triple bogey to pretty much take him out of the running even if, to his credit, he hung in on the back nine.
The aggressiveness that he talked about was better illustrated by Oosthuizen, who hit a four iron 253 yards and the minute it landed you knew it was destined to become a double eagle, the first-ever on the second hole and the fourth in Masters history.
Playing with Oosthuizen, who took a two-shot lead at 10-under, Watson watched the history-making albatross, but had to put it out of his mind while focusing on the aggression that Mickelson had mentioned.
Watson, who started the day in fourth place, birdied two and added another on five realizing he needed a big run on the back nine, which didn’t start too well with a bogey at 12, before reeling off four consecutive birdies.
One shot was not going to win the Masters, if Bubba had his way, and give Oosthuizen credit with his unflappable style. On 13, a seemingly impossible chip on from the back of the green almost became an eagle before he settled for birdie.
On the next hole, Oosthuizen connected on an awkward putt to save par before a birdie on 16. The Bubba charge was being battled, but both were tested even on the final hole of regulation when they ended up on either side of the fairway.
Both passed the test on 18 and again on the second playoff hole, where Bubba simply graded better when Oosthuizen’s approach shot fell short of the green.
A tournament that was supposed to be all about a showdown between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy became all about Bubba and Louis.
It was all about when to be aggressive and how you respond to your mistakes. On this day, Watson just did it slightly better in a memorable finish.
BUBBA MAKES IT EIGHT
Watson’s win makes him the eighth consecutive first-time major winner ... Bo Van Pelt has a knack for final round fireworks. Last year, he posted eagles at 13 and 15 to go along with a birdie on seven and three bogeys to come in with a 70 to tie for eighth. In tying the record for lowest Sunday score at the Masters with a 64 yesterday, Van Pelt once again eagled 13 and had an ace on the par-three 16th. Unlike last year, no bogeys were part of his 2012 final round, but four birdies were and he tied for 17th. A pair of 75s and a 73 in the first three rounds tend to take a guy out of the running ... Final word on Tiger Woods on the par fives, normally Tiger’s happy hunting ground. Woods finally got another birdie on the second hole but countered that with a bogey on eight with two pars on the back nine. Tiger finished two for 16 in birdies on the par fives and was one under for the week on those holes ... One other note on Tiger. He had just three birdies all week on the back nine, two of them on Sunday.
GROW A PAIR, SERGIO
Sergio Garcia’s contention that he doesn’t have what it takes to win a major is more of an accurate assessment than it is a bizarre reaction to a three-over 75 in the third round. Garcia does have the necessary tools to get it done, with one exception: his pouty, petulant nature. Instead of asking reporters what he can do, true champions would be off trying to figure it out, instead of engaging in public pity parties. Here’s one columnist’s suggestion that might help, Sergio — grow a pair ... In his defence, Garcia unfairly had the “best player never to win a major” tag hung on him way too early in his career, but even if he had won one in his early 20s, he wouldn’t escape the unrealistic expectations ... At 22 and already a major champion, “Rory McIlroy will in all likelihood take his leave of the Masters with yet more painful memories to add to those of his dramatic collapse here 12 months ago,” said the Daily Mail in the U.K., after McIlroy’s third round 77. So what? The difference between Garcia and McIlroy is that McIlroy has proven he can deal with disappointment, which is inevitable in majors, especially for a young man. Fortitude will steel McIlroy against the unrealistic expectations and decide his ultimate fate, just as it has with Garcia.