What we learned: The 76th Masters


Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events. This week, the GolfChannel.com team weighs in on 'what we learned' from Bubba Watson's improbable victory at the 76th Masters.

There is almost no such thing as a bad tee shot with Bubba Watson making the swing.

As long as his drive lands in play, as long as he can get a full swing on his next shot, the possibilities for recovery are mesmerizing.

Imagination isn’t a lost art in the modern game. It was the 15th club in Watson’s bag on Sunday when he won the Masters. His last full shot out of the trees right of the 10th fairway, the big hooking wedge that set up his playoff victory, it moves Watson into the elite class of escape artists, somewhere behind Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson. – Randall Mell

AUGUSTA, Ga - I learned that it's ridiculous to try to predict a winner of a tournament, especially a major championship. Many sat here five days ago and would've bet a hard-earned paycheck that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy would've been in contention at this Masters. A day ago, we essentially handed a fourth green jacket to Phil Mickelson. A few hours ago we thought Louis Oosthuizen was going to win his second major championship. And with all that, Bubba Watson – a man who couldn't close the deal a month ago at Doral – hit shots no one else could and won the Masters. Prognosticating is useless. – Jay Coffin

AUGUSTA, Ga - That more than any other championship venue, Augusta National has perfected the art, or maybe it’s a science, of dramatic finishes. In consecutive years galleries have been rocked by dramatic final nines and crowded, eclectic leaderboards. Not long ago some questioned whether the golf course changes in 2002 had somehow robbed the Masters of its closing-loop magic. Following back-to-back nail bitters it’s safe to say the back-nine buzz is back. - Rex Hoggard

AUGUSTA, Ga. - I learned that some players don’t lose major championships because they aren’t accurate enough drivers or deft enough putters or don’t have the proper mental fortitude to succeed. No, sometimes players don’t win simply because these tournaments aren’t 70 or 71 or 73 or 74 holes. OK, so maybe that isn’t a new concept, but what separated the contenders this week was a tangible finish line. A few less holes and Louis Oosthuizen would have been declared the champion; a few more and it may have been Lee Westwood. Instead, Bubba Watson was like Goldilocks, finding the Masters “just right” in earning the green jacket. It’s something to remember for the next major, though. It wasn’t that Oosthuizen or Westwood or Phil Mickelson or Matt Kuchar or Peter Hanson weren’t good enough to win this week. It’s just that the timing was perfect for Watson. - Jason Sobel

I learned the spirit of Seve Ballesteros is alive and well, manifest in the new Masters champion.

Bubba Watson did not hold the outright lead in the 76th Masters until the point that mattered most: the end. He struggled with the putter at times on Sunday, but brilliant iron play and dazzling distance allowed him to charge on the second nine with four consecutive birdies to tie the lead.

Facing a daunting escape from the pine straw - the lefty equivalent of Rory's Cabin - at No. 10 in sudden death against Louis Oosthuizen, Watson found a gap in the brush and pulled off one of the most brilliant Houdini acts in major championship history.

On the first Masters Sunday since his passing, Seve would approve. - Ryan Ballengee