Bubba Watson claims first green jacket

12:33, Apr 11 2012
2012 Masters Tournament
Ian Poulter (L) of England talks with his caddie Terry Mundy during a practice round.
2012 Masters Tournament
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa looks at a shot with his caddie Wynand Stander during a practice round.
2012 Masters Tournament
KJ Choi reacts after holing out a shot from the fairway as his caddie Andy Prodger looks on during a practice round.
2012 Masters Tournament
Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara practice putts on the green during a practice round.
2012 Masters Tournament
A security gaurd opens the gate to allow patrons entrance during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
2012 Masters Tournament
Magnolia Lane's 60 magnolia trees and the clubhouse are seen at Augusta National Golf Club before The Masters .
2012 Masters Tournament
Lee Westwood of England hits a tee shot on in front of a gallery of patrons during a practice round.
2012 Masters Tournament
Spectators take photos of Tiger Woods during a practice round.
Masters Gallery 2012
Tom Watson hits a tee shot during practice.
Masters Gallery 2012
Rory McIlroy admires an iron shot during practice.
Masters 2012 gallery
Big crowds gathered to watch players go through their paces in the practice round prior to the start of the Masters at Augusta National.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Two children of South African golfer Rory Sabbatini run up the fairway during the pre-US Masters par-three tournament.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Golf legend Arnold Palmer gives the thumbs up to the gallery at Augusta.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
A trio of greats share a joke during the pre-US Masters par-three tournament. From left, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Thomas Bjorn (R) and entourage celebrate the Danish golfer's hole-in-one on the ninth hole of the pre-US Masters par-three tournament.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Tiger Woods splashes out of a sand trap on the 17th hole.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Sweden's Henrik Stenson during his troubled 18th hole, where a quadruple bogey saw him lose the lead.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Miguel Angel Jiminez of Spain finds his ball near Rae's Creek in front of the 13th green.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
American Phil Mickelson warns the gallery after an errant tee shot on the fourth hole.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Phil Mickelson hits his approach shot to the green on the first hole.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Spectators take up a vantage point behind the first tee on the first day of the US Masters at Augusta.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
First round leader Lee Westwood watches his tee short carefully on the 15th hole.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
American Bubba Watson swings his pink club on the 17th hole tee.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland takes cover on his way to the 16th tee.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
First round leader Lee Westwood of England leads playing partner Vijay Singh of Fiji to the 16th green.
2012 Masters tournament gallery
American Jonathan Byrd hits out of a bunker next to the 18th green.
Fred Couples
Fred Couples walks off the 13th green with his caddie David Kerr.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia lines up a putt on the 18th green during his four-under round of 68 to get to -4.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods uses some body english to try to coax a putt to move the way he wants.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson plays a chip-shot from the front of the 18th green.
Miguel Angel Jiminez
Miguel Angel Jiminez and his caddie Pascual Jiminez walk past the water on the way to the 15th green.
Bae Sang-Moon
South Korea's Bae Sang-Moon chips from between the patrons towards the ninth green.
Lee Westwood
Englishman Lee Westwood tees off on the picturesque 17th tee at Augusta.
Jason Dufner
Second round co-leader Jason Dufner in front of the leaderboard at the 18th hole.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods chips out of the bunker in front of the eighth green during his even par third round.
Peter Hanson
Leader Peter Hanson exchanges clubs with his caddie during the third round.
Louis Oosthuizen
South African Louis Oosthuizen reacts after a wayward tee shot on the 15th hole.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson pumps his fist after birdieing the 18th hole for the third straight day.
Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar acknowledges the crowd after a birdie at the seventh hole.
Francesco Molinari
Italy's Francesco Molinari ponders what went wrong on his approach shot to the 17th green.
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy chips from behind the first green during a tough third round.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson flips his putter in the air after missing a putt on the 16th green.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson of the United States hits a tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round.
Bubba Watson
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa drives off the eighth tee during the final round.
Bubba Watson
Phil Mickelson of the United States hits a shot out of the rough on the ninth hole during the final round.
Bubba Watson
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa celebrates with his caddie Wynand Stander after making an albatross on the second hole during the final round.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson of the United States lines up a putt as caddie Ted Scott looks on during the final round.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson of the United States hugs Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa after Watson won their sudden-death playoff on the second playoff hole to win the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta.
Bubba Watson
Charl Schwartzel of South Africa awards the green jacket to Bubba Watson of the United States during the green jacket presentation after Watson's one-stroke to win the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta.
Bubba Watson
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa reacts after missig a putt on the second sudden death playoff hole on the 10th during the final round of the 2012 Masters Tournament.
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson of the US celebrates winning the Masters with his mother Mollie during a playoff in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament.

Bubba Watson started the day by watching the rarest shot in golf. He ended another thrill-a-minute day 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.

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 from 253 yards landed on 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.

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"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 US 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 US Open champion Rory McIlroy, also favoured 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 theatre 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.

AP