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He had a front-row seat for one of the most amazing shots the Masters has ever seen, a 253-yard 4-iron by Oosthuizen, his playing partner throughout the day, that landed on the front of the par-5 second hole and rolled 80 feet before curling into the cup for a double-eagle. It was all Watson could do to keep himself from racing across the green to give the South African a high-five.

“Then I saw the leaderboard on the next hole,” he said, “and I thought, that double-eagle, he’s leading now.”

Being Bubba, it didn’t change a thing Watson did. He kept bombing away, firing at the pins from every crazy angle, just like he did in a losing playoff effort against Martin Kaymer in the 2010 PGA Championship.

“I mean, I can hit it straight. It’s just it’s easier to see curves, get the ball working towards the hole,” Watson said.

“I remember this good player, maybe great player, y’all, Jack Nicklaus. He said he wanted to aim at the center of the green and get the ball drifting towards the hole when he played Augusta. That’s what he did here. That’s the way I like to play all the golf courses, not just Augusta. …

“So I can do it. It’s just not something I really want to do. It’s easier in the trees,” Watson said, “like I did on the last playoff hole.”

It’s such an improbable recipe for success, that even though Watson finished up his college golf career at Georgia some 100 miles down the road, he couldn’t quite picture himself wearing the green jacket that fit snugly on his shoulders.

“I dreamed about it,” he said. “I just never made the putt.”


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) and follow him at