Golf Tidbits: 'Bubba Golf' and Augusta, a perfect match

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Updated: 4/14/2014 12:59 pm

Philadelphia, PA ( - Three lefties have combined to win six of the last 12 Masters titles and two of them have a lot in common.

Three-time champion Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, who won his second Masters title on Sunday, are among the longest hitters on the PGA Tour.

The third lefty, Mike Weir, also won the Masters in that same 12-year span, but he is far from a long hitter. What the three have in common is that they play a right-to-left ball-flight off the tee.

And that sets up perfectly at Augusta.

Watson used his prodigious length, and better-than-advertised short game, to fend off Jordan Spieth for his second Masters title. Two other things help Watson at Augusta.

First, despite being a tree-lined course, the fairways are very generous. Secondly, the rough, or second cut as they call it at Augusta, is short and playable. The course is hard enough without thick rough.

Watson tied for 13th in driving accuracy, hitting 71.43 percent of fairways for the week, and he shared fifth in greens in regulation, with 69.44 percent of greens hit.

The bomb-and-gauge era that Watson leads started with John Daly, when he came from out of nowhere to win the 1991 PGA Championship. Daly hit the ball everywhere, and still does.

Using the theory of the farther you hit the ball off the tee, the shorter the club you have into the green works for both Daly and Watson.

The two are the antithesis of each other in many ways, but the one thing they have in common is that they both have two major championships to their credit. Watson moved one ahead of Daly in PGA Tour titles, six to five, with his second Masters victory.

Watson's length hurt and helped his cause on Sunday. He bombed his drive within 50 yards of the green at No. 3, but had such an awkward angle to the pin that he couldn't hold the green with his chip shot.

On the par-5 13th, Watson carved his drive perfectly around the corner of a dogleg and within 150 yards of the green. From there, he hit gap-wedge to the back edge of the green. It's doubtful any of the other players hit driver- wedge into that par-5.

Along his length, Watson's creativity was on full display. Watson tried to work his tee shot on the 10th more than normal. This is one flaw in Watson's game. When he is trying to protect the lead, he tries to steer the ball more than normal and it tends to cause more harm than good.

The result ended with Watson's tee ball ending in the second cut on the right. On the 15th, he over cut his tee shot and his ball ended on the left side, seemingly blocked out by some trees.

No worry for Watson. He blasted straight through the trees and to the back edge of the green. He made par on both back nine par-5s, but at that point it didn't matter.

Watson was three clear of Spieth after a four-shot swing in two holes. Watson birdied the par-5 eighth, while his playing partner 3-putted for bogey. That swing forged a tie atop the leaderboard.

There was another two-shot swing at No. 9 with Watson making another birdie and Spieth dropping a shot after failing to convert a short par putt.

Watson played the back nine to near perfection. He had a birdie and a bogey along with seven pars as he cruised to the three-shot win.

He is now among a group of 34 men who have won two major championships. Including Watson, five have won two Masters titles.

There are 16 other golfers who have won multiple Masters titles, and 15 are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 16th man would be Tiger Woods and he'll be going into the Hall as soon as he is eligible.

Watson needs nine more PGA Tour titles to join that lofty crowd. He has won his six titles in the last five years, and is only 35, so he has a solid chance of making it 17-for-17 in the Hall.

If Watson gets to that level, he may need to hire someone to give his entrance speech for him. The emotional Watson would have a hard time giving a speech through all of his tears.

Watson, who has never had an alcoholic drink in his life, said the 2013 season was a hangover season after his first Masters. He was adamant after winning Sunday that he has changed the way he works on his game and that led to this win.

If he can stick to those changes, this won't be his last win of 2014.


A dropped club here and glare at his caddie there and one could tell Spieth was battling himself as much as anything else in the final round Sunday at the Masters.

Spieth, who had never contended in his four previous major championship starts, was in control of the Masters after seven holes. If he could have skipped the eighth and ninth, and headed to the 10th, maybe he wins his first green jacket.

Instead, Watson made timely birdies on eight and nine, while Spieth bogeyed the same two holes and that was that. Spieth went from two ahead to two behind, and started to press. That is when his shots stopped doing what he wanted, everyone knew.

He let go of his club on the follow-through of a tee shot. Spieth squatted down after another poor swing. Maybe he was screaming at himself internally. When a couple putts didn't break the way he thought, Spieth glared at his caddie and motioned how did that ball not move?

Not many first-timers win at Augusta, three in all, but just one after the first two years of the tournament. Spieth was trying to became No. 4.

The putts not breaking, he'll recall in years to come. He'll know that being down two with nine to go isn't the end of the world.

If the 20-year-old had won, it would have been historic. It would have marked the third time that the youngest-ever winner at the Masters lowered that mark in an odd 17-year stretch.

Jack Nicklaus lowered the age of youngest winner in 1963, when he won his first green jacket. Seventeen years later, Seve Ballesteros won the Masters and was two months younger than Nicklaus had been.

Fast forward 17 years, Woods clobbered the field at the 1997 Masters and became the youngest-ever winner, bettering Seve's old record. This year marked the 17th year since Woods' historic win, and Spieth had a chance to extend that odd streak, but was unable to do so.

Spieth failed in his first appearance in contention in a major. Suffice it to say, it won't be the last time we see him in said position.


- Oddly, one of my favorite parts of the Masters is reading what the players won on top of the money they earned. For example, players with the low score each day received crystal vases and for anyone who made an eagle, he was given crystal highball glasses. Watson earned a golf medal as the winner, while Spieth and Jonas Blixt picked up silver medals for sharing second place, and Oliver Goss won a sterling silver cup as low amateur.

- The next major is in one month when the Champions Tour tees off the Regions Tradition and the following week plays the Senior PGA Championship. The U.S. Open at Pinehurst starts on June 12 and that likely will be our second straight major without Woods.

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