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Watson wins second Masters title in three years

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Bubba Watson slipped on his second green jacket in the past three years with a relatively stress-free victory Sunday at the 78th Masters. Here’s the skinny on the final round at Augusta National: 

The leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-8); Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt at -5; Miguel Angel Jimenez (-4); Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar at -2

What it means: Watson, the winner here in 2012, became just the 17th player with multiple Masters victories, and the first since Jose Maria Olazabal (1999) to win his first two majors at the Masters. Watson became the first player to win his second Masters in his sixth attempt since 1960 (Arnold Palmer). Not a strong closer in the past, this was just the second time in eight tries that he was able to convert a 54-hole lead into victory. Interestingly, it’s also the sixth Masters in the past 12 years that was won by a left-hander.

Round of the day: The winner has come out of the final group in 19 of the past 23 years, but that wasn’t the case in each of the past three editions. Watson dropped two shots behind Spieth on No. 3, but he made birdies on 4, 6, 8 and 9 to take a one-shot lead into the second nine at Augusta National. He safely navigated Amen Corner, picking up a two-putt birdie on 13, and then made five consecutive pars to shoot 69 and win by three.

Best of the rest: Making only his third career major start, Blixt built on his fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship with a tie for second at the Masters. Trying to become the first rookie to win at Augusta since 1979, the 29-year-old Swede could manage only a 1-under 71 on the final day, but he was near the top of the leaderboard all weekend and never blinked. Honorable mention goes to Miguel Angel Jimenez, who next week will make his Champions Tour debut. He shot 71 Sunday and tied for fourth.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth’s bid to become the youngest Masters winner in history – and the youngest major champion since 1931 – unraveled late on his opening nine. He three-putted from 30 feet on the par-5 eighth, then made bogey on the next hole after missing another short putt. He was still only two behind when he stood on the 12th tee, but his ball came up just short of the green and trundled back into Rae’s Creek, leading to a deflating bogey. He shot 72 and tied for second, along with fellow first-timer Blixt.

Shot of the day: Taking an aggressive line on the par-3 13th, Watson pounded a 366-yard drive that left him only 144 yards – and a gap wedge – into the green. He two-putted from 35 feet to extend his lead to three shots.

Quote of the day: “This one was a lot different,” Watson said of the differences between 2012 and ’14. “The first one, for me, it was almost like I lucked into it. This one was a lot of hard work, dedication, and I got back here. After giving away the jacket last year, I kind of wanted it back. I told Adam (Scott) we should just kind of switch back and forth.”