Watson captures Masters in playoff

By Associated PressApril 9, 2012, 12:24 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bubba Watson started the day by watching the rarest shot in golf. He ended another thrill-a-minute Sunday at Augusta National with a signature shot of his own to win the Masters.

So deep in the trees right of the 10th fairway that he couldn’t even see the green, Watson hooked a wedge off the pine needles from 155 yards to about 10 feet from the hole. That set up a par, good enough to beat Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole.

“If I’ve got a swing, I’ve got a shot,” Watson said.


Video: Watson's Masters news conference

Photos: Sunday at Augusta


It was Oosthuizen who set the tone for this wild day with a double eagle – only the fourth in Masters history – on the par-5 second hole when his 4-iron flew 210 yards to the front of the green and rolled some 90 feet into the hole for a 2.

“Somehow it fell in my hands today,” said Watson, who closed with a 68. “It’s amazing. It’s a blur, the last nine holes I don’t remember anything. Somehow I guess I cried all my tears out.”

He was blubbering hard on the 10th green, shoulders heaving, for so many reasons. Just two weeks ago, he and his wife adopted a baby boy, Caleb. The first person on the green was his mother – his father died right after the Ryder Cup in 2010. And suddenly, the powerful lefty with a million shots in the bag was a major champion.

“I never got this far in my dreams,” Watson said in Butler cabin, where defending champion Charl Schwartzel helped him into the green jacket. “It’s a blessing. To go home to my new son, it’s going to be fun.”

Oosthuizen was trying to join Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Masters as the only major champions to win with a double eagle in the final round. The former British Open champion made one clutch putt after another on the back nine, none more important than a 4-footer on the 18th for a 69 to force the playoff.

Both had a good look at birdie at No. 18 on the first extra hole and missed.

Watson, dressed all in white and using a pink driver, hooked one into the trees and it appeared he would have no shot at reaching the green. Oosthuizen followed him, clanged off a Georgia pine and was left with 231 yards to the green. His approach came up short.

That’s when Watson, who rarely hits a shot on a straight line, came up with the most magical shot of his life.

“I was there earlier today, during regulation,” he said. “So I was used to it. I knew what I was facing there. I had a good lie, had a gap where I had to hook it 40 yards or something. I’m pretty good at hooking it.”

Oosthuizen was in the fairway. All he could see was a corridor of fans leading into the woods.

“I had no idea where he was,” Oosthuizen said. “Where I stood from, when the ball came out, it looked like a curve ball. Unbelievable shot. That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament.”

They finished at 10-under 278, two shots ahead of four players who kept it close and made the Masters as compelling as ever.

Phil Mickelson, playing in the final group for the fourth time, recovered from a triple bogey on the par-3 fourth hole and still managed to stay in the game. He could only make two-putt birdies on the two par 5s on the back and shot 72.

“It’s disappointing that I didn’t grab that fourth green jacket,” said Mickelson, whose wife and three kids flew in from San Diego on Sunday. “It’s disappointing that I didn’t make it happen on the back nine and get the putts to fall, even though I felt like I was hitting them pretty good. I gave them all good chances. I just couldn’t quite get them to go.”

Lee Westwood ran off three straight birdies, but the last one hurt. He had an 8-foot eagle putt to tie for the lead on the 15th and missed it, and a final birdie on the 18th gave him a 68 and only made it look close.

“I don’t feel like giving up just yet,” said Westwood, who had his seventh top-3 finish in a major since the 2008 U.S. Open.

Matt Kuchar tied for the lead with a short eagle putt on the 15th, then bogeyed the 16th for a 69. Peter Hanson, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole. He closed with a 73.

Gerry “Bubba” Watson, a 33-year-old from the Florida Panhandle, won for the fourth time in his career and moves to No. 4 in the world, making him the highest-ranked American in golf.

And he created a legion of fans – especially in Georgia, where he returned to school to get his degree – who chanted, “Bubba! Bubba! Bubba!” as he hugged everyone he could find on the 10th green.

Tiger Woods used to play practice rounds with Watson at the majors because he was intrigued how a guy who has never had a coach could make the ball move any direction he wanted.

Woods was among those who congratulated Watson on Twitter before the trophy presentation.

“Congrats (at)bubbawatson. Fantastic creativity. Now how creative will the champions dinner be next year?” he tweeted.

Oosthuizen was trying to become only the sixth player to have won majors at Augusta National and St. Andrews – two of the most revered courses in golf – and almost got it done.

He stayed in the lead with a tricky par putt from 10 feet on the 14th and a 7-foot birdie putt on the 15th, but Watson caught him by making his fourth straight birdie on the back nine, a tee shot into 4 feet on the 16th.

Both hung on for pars the rest of the way.

Woods went from the favorite to not even a factor on the weekend. He closed with a birdie on the 18th for a 74 and had his highest score ever at the Masters as a pro, finishing at 5-over 293 – 15 shots out of the lead.

This, from a guy who only two weeks ago won by five shots at Bay Hill, presumably signaling a return.

“It was an off week at the wrong time,” Woods said.

He tied for 40th with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, also favored to contend. McIlroy was one shot out of the lead after two rounds, then had a 77-76 weekend.

Woods and McIlroy were expected to be a big part of the show. This being Augusta, the show managed to go on. There simply is no greater theater in golf than the Masters, and it lasted all day.

An ace for Bo Van Pelt on the 16th – the second straight year he has made two eagles on the back nine – for a tournament-best 64. An ace for Adam Scott on the same hole, sending him to a 66.

The loudest cheer was for the rarest shot in golf.

Hanson was sizing up a difficult chip from right of the first green when Augusta erupted in cheers from down below. No one was sure what it meant until Hanson and Mickelson hit their tee shots on the par-5 second, glanced over at the white leaderboard behind the eighth green and saw that Oosthuizen had gone from 7 under to 10 under ahead of them.

Hanson made two quick bogeys and never caught back up. Mickelson’s tournament might have ended on the fourth hole with one swing, one bad bounce off the bleachers, and two straight right-handed shots that led to triple bogey.

“Oh, no,” Mickelson said as his tee shot struck the grandstand and caromed into the woods. He could have gone back to the tee and played his third shot. Instead, he tried to chop out of the trees from the right side and barely moved it a yard. He tried the same shot again and slapped it to a muddy patch of grass. From there he went into the bunker, and triple bogey was the best he could do.

Kuchar made a late run, but this back nine – plus two extra holes – ultimately belonged to Watson and Oosthuizen.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.