HE did it the only way Bubba Watson knows. By opening his shoulders and ripping it.
His booming drive down the 13th was a thing of beauty, albeit a tad fortuitous. It set up a birdie to give him a three-shot lead.
His second shot into the 15th was risky. One he didn’t need to take. Bubba doesn’t do reining in, though. It’s all or nothing with every shot. He got away with this one.
A wayward drive at the 17th might have caught Eisenhower’s Tree if it had still been there. Instead, it got what they call in these parts as a “patron’s bounce”.
After safely making par, his three-shot cushion was still in tact. “Only a [Jean] van de Velde moment will stop him now,” commented one fan, referring, of course, to Carnoustie in 1999, as Bubba headed to the 18th tee.
He’d negotiated all the holes with Rae’s Creek on them, though. Pressure-free, he comfortably made par to join an elite band of players to claim multiple wins here.
“A small-town guy named Bubba has two Green Jacket - it’s pretty cool,” he admitted after repeating his 2012 victory.
His closing 69 gave him an eight-under-par total. He won by three from two first-timers - American 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Swede Jonas Blixt.
Watson and Spieth started out locked together. Spieth, bidding to become the event’s youngest winner, holed a bunker shot at the fourth.
Watson followed him in for a 2 there. Both of them also birdied the par-3 sixth. “Both were very big,” said Watson of his putts at those holes.
Spieth also birdied the seventh. It gave him a two-shot lead. Two holes later, though, he was two behind.
“The eighth and ninth was the turning point,” admitted Watson of his birdies there and the bogeys marked down on Spieth’s card. “It put the momentum my way and no-one ahead caught fire after the tenth.”
Spieth got back to within one when Watson bogeyed the tenth. The young gun then dumped his tee shot into the water at the 12th. He did well to limit the damage to a bogey.
Watson knew his rocket-launcher down the 13th had got a touch lucky as it clipped the trees.
“I’m not very smart but I knew that wasn’t the line,” he admitted. It left him needing just a sand wedge for his approach at the 510-yard hole.
“I could start breathing again when I heard the clapping and cheering,” he said of the ecstatic reaction it received from the fans.
He was confident his second into the 15th wasn’t going to lead to disaster. “I had 181 to the front and hit a low 6-iron. The worst spot was going to be the back bunker but I choked and cut it a bit without telling my caddie,” he said of a shot that went through the back of the green.
Spieth’s day will come. He’s got bags of talent. He was freewheeling until those back-to-back dropped shots seemed to unsettle him. His club was slammed into the turf after a leaked approach at the tenth.
That may not have pleased those Green Jacket officials but they’d love to see him slipping into one of them one day.
He may well be the new Tiger Woods. Only time will tell. On this occasion, though, he discovered that winning majors isn’t easy.
Watson and Spieth are almost certain to be at Gleneagles in September for the Ryder Cup. Blixt has his sights set on making the opposition team. On this evidence, he’s got a fighting chance.
So, too, has Miguel Angel Jimenez. The 50-year-old Spaniard finished fourth on his own after a closing 71.
Matt Kuchar’s wait for a major goes on. He’s now finished in the top ten here in the last three years. Two bogeys to close took the shine off his day, though. He finished in a tie for fifth with Rickie Fowler.
It was mission accomplished on the last day for Rory McIlroy. The last man to scrape into the final two rounds, he signed off with a 71. It earned him a share of eighth spot - his best finish here.
Compared to Bubba’s first win two years ago, when he conjured up a miraculous recovery from the jungle, the finish was something of an anti-climax.
As was the case then, though, the man slipping into the Green Jacket was certainly a worthy winner.