- The Masters
Brilliant Bubba secures second Masters title
Tears flowed on the 18th green of Augusta National for the second time in three years for Bubba Watson as he produced a final round of 69 to win the Masters by three shots and claim another green jacket.
For much of the final round, the 2012 champion and playing partner Jordan Spieth - the 20-year-old debutant looking to become the youngest ever Masters winner and youngest major winner since 1931 - swapped positions at the top, while the impressive Jonas Blixt enjoyed a faultless back nine for a share of second place.
Last year, Watson had to put the green jacket around the shoulders of Adam Scott and, after a Sunday afternoon full of captivating golf, Scott returned the favour.
Watson: This time it was hard work
- After being presented with his second green jacket by the 2013 champion Adam Scott, Bubba Watson joked that he and the Australian should keep up that particular tradition for a few years to come.
- "I really don't know how I did it. I was telling my caddie coming up 18th that I didn't remember the last few holes. I was just hanging on, just trying to make pars," Watson said.
- "Jordan Spieth started out hot with a bunch of birdies and so for me to back it up, that helped me get the momentum a bit. This one is a lot different. The first was was almost like I lucked into it. This was a lot of hard work.
- "After giving the jacket back last year, I wanted it back. I told Adam we should just keep going back and forth."
Watson and Spieth began proceedings locked together at 5-under and both showed nerves on the opening tee; Watson creamed his effort into the fairway bunker while Spieth finished up behind a tree.
But the pair quickly showed why they had the privilege of being last group out; Spieth expertly used the contours of the green to produce a fine recovery, while his partner created an early birdie chance with a superb shot from the sand. Both, however, had to settle for par.
Following carbon copy tee shots at the second, Spieth moved ahead for the first time of the afternoon with birdie. His one-shot lead became two when Watson was caught out by a loose bogey at the third.
Then came the shot of a future champion at the 4th; having found the bunker with his effort from the tee, Spieth splashed out and holed for birdie. Watson also made birdie and the lead remained two shots.
However, Spieth suffered with bogey at the 5th as Watson cut the lead with a solid par. The 20-year-old's response on the 6th was immaculate; a tee shot within three feet of the pin which, after Watson sunk his 12-footer to put the pressure on, Spieth finished calmly. There was even a nod of appreciation from Watson.
A glorious second shot at the 7th helped Spieth to another birdie which, combined with Watson's neatly-saved par, moved him two shots clear in the Georgia sunshine. However, by the end of the 8th, there was again a tie at the top of the leaderboard as Spieth immediately conceded his advantage.
And Spieth's inexperience showed at the 9th. After almost holing his approach, Spieth lipped his putt and then it was Watson leading by two at the turn.
There is no scene in golf like the back nine of a Masters Sunday and it did not disappoint between the leading two, beginning at the 10th. Watson's monumental putt across the width of the green almost dropped for a par, before Spieth reduced the deficit to one.
Both struggled at 12 as Spieth found the creek and Watson went too long to leave a frightening chip back towards the green and the water. Spieth sank an important, no-nerve putt for bogey while Watson superbly got up and down for par and a two-shot lead.
Despite the rollercoaster ride across the previous 12 holes, the turning point came at 13 as Watson nailed his drive for what seemed like miles down the fairway. Eventually it was called at 366-yards but Spieth could not match it - it took him two shots to move 20 yards ahead off the tee. Despite a nervous eagle effort, Watson made birdie and a lead of three as Spieth holed out for par.
So many times has a major been decided by one particular, stand-out moment and, if Spieth's 50-foot effort at 14 had just one more inch of power behind it, it could have sparked a major turnaround. It fell agonisingly short as both made par, as they did at the following par-5 15th.
Spieth followed Watson's tee shot at 16 and, despite showing frustration at his swing, narrowly missed birdie for par, as did the leader.
The youngster very nearly produced a stunning finish at 17; his chip finished inches short but he cleaned up for par. Watson, with a tricky four-footer, showed no nerves and punched the air as the ball dropped to keep a three-shot lead going down the last.
For the second time in three years Watson enjoyed an emotional walk up the last hole. Spieth tapped in for par and a share of second place. Watson held on and, as a result, became only the 17th golfer in history to win more than one green jacket.
Blixt had earlier finished for his third 71 of the week, which included eight pars and a birdie in his final back nine. The Swede holed an important putt at the last for par, a shot which would eventually give him a share of second place.
Blixt's playing partner Matt Kuchar could not produce his best during the final nine holes; his day fizzled out with successive bogeys at the last two holes, dropping from 4-under to 2-under for his four days.
Rickie Fowler and Miguel Angel Jimenez provided plenty of entertainment throughout their final pairing. Fowler, 4-under and within a shot after the first hole, ended with a 73 at 2-under, while Jimenez will have to wait a little longer before his next cigar; the Spaniard made his third under-par round of the week with his 71, but a rogue second-round 76 proved too costly in the end. Jimenez will be back next year following his top five finish.
Lee Westwood made birdie on the last hole of his 72 to become the first player of this year's tournament to finish under-par. The Brit recovered from a double bogey at the 4th to post a 73 and end his week at 1-under.