Newspaper article International New York Times

For Grown-Up Watson, the Jacket Still Fits ; Second Masters Victory Shows Improvement in Self, as Much as His Golf

Newspaper article International New York Times

For Grown-Up Watson, the Jacket Still Fits ; Second Masters Victory Shows Improvement in Self, as Much as His Golf

Article excerpt

Bubba Watson, who has focused on improving as a person as well as a golfer, shot a 69 to hold off Jordan Spieth and win the Masters for a second time.

A few hours before he went out to try to win a second green jacket, Bubba Watson conducted a Masters trivia contest for his million-plus Twitter followers. The game helped unclutter Watson's mind and clarify his purpose. One of the questions asked how many of the last 23 champions had come from the final pairing.

The answer was 19, a trend that Watson, who shared the 54-hole lead with Jordan Spieth, took as a good omen. By Sunday evening, he had made it 20 of the last 24 by punctuating another piece of Masters minutiae. Using 69 shots, Watson won his second Masters title in his sixth start at Augusta National Golf Club.

Only Horton Smith, the winner of the first and third Masters in the 1930s, won two green jackets in fewer attempts than Watson. Jimmy Demaret and Arnold Palmer also won their second in their sixth start.

Watson's three-under-par finish gave him a 72-hole score of eight- under 280, three strokes better than Spieth, who led by two after seven holes Sunday but could not keep up with Watson's length off the tee or accuracy on the greens.

Watson covered the first nine in 33 strokes and made pars on the last five holes to stave off Spieth, whose 72 left him tied for second at five-under 283 with Jonas Blixt of Sweden, who fired a 71. Both were Masters rookies hoping to join the 1979 champion, Fuzzy Zoeller, as the only first-timers to win in the post-World War II era.

With a victory, Blixt also would have matched last year's accomplishment by Adam Scott of Australia, who became the first player from his country to win the Masters. Blixt would have been the first Swede to win any men's major.

"A small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets," Watson said. "It's pretty cool."

The 78th Masters began as a stroke-play event and quickly evolved Sunday into match play, pitting Watson, a 35-year-old, against Spieth, who seems at least a decade and a half older than his 20 years.

Spieth turned professional in December 2012. Since then, the only time he had remotely acted his age was during an actual match-play contest two months ago against the South African Ernie Els at a World Golf Championships event outside Tucson.

During a 4-and-2 quarterfinal loss to Els, Spieth pouted about bad shots and punished his clubs, as if they were to blame for the three bogeys he made on the back nine. He later apologized on his Twitter page, writing: "I'm embarrassed about the way I acted on the course today. Played like the 13-year-old version of myself mentally."

Watson has had enough childish transgressions on the course over the years to fill a psychology handbook, including a tirade directed at his long-suffering caddie, Ted Scott, at last year's Travelers Championship, when he made a triple bogey on a hole and blamed Scott for a couple of the club selections. …

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