Updated: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 07:29 | Comments
Bubba Watson was quick to play down his achievement of winning a second Masters title in three years at Augusta National on Sunday.
Watson trailed 20-year-old playing partner Jordan Spieth by two shots after seven holes of the final round, but birdied the eighth and ninth as Spieth bogeyed both.
The 35-year-old’s lead was cut to a shot by a bogey on the 10th, but a massive drive on the par-five 13th set up a birdie that gave the left-hander a three-shot cushion over the closing stretch.
Only a handful of players have won more than one Masters title, including the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, but Watson was not about to accept the label of an elite player.
“No, no,” Watson said. “Again, I just got lucky enough to have two green jackets. I’m just trying to keep my tour card every year and if people say that I’m a good player, that’s great.
“I’m trying to play golf for a living. I’m not trying to play golf for everybody to tell me how great I am or I’m one of the greats of the game. I play golf because I love it, I love the game, I want to grow the game. The game has brought me everything that I’ve ever owned in my life.”
Watson crucially matched Spieth’s birdies on the fourth and sixth – the former after Spieth had holed out from a greenside bunker, but felt his birdies on the eighth and ninth were vital.
“Eight and nine were really the turning point where momentum kind of went my way,” he added. “Then the group in front of us and other groups, you could just tell, just nobody really caught fire. There wasn’t too many birdies after number 10 I don’t think.
“I don’t remember the last few holes, I just remember hanging on, making pars. Somehow I did and walking up 18 was a little easier this time.”
Watson, who beat Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off two years ago, added: “This one is a lot different. The first one is almost like I lucked into it, this was a lot of hard work and dedication and I got back the green jacket after giving it away last year.”
As defending champion Watson presented the green jacket to 2013 winner Adam Scott. On Sunday the roles were reversed.
“I told Adam we should just keep switching it back and forth,” Watson joked.
Spieth, who was looking to become the youngest ever Masters champion, carded a closing 72 to share second place with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt.
“It was so much fun, even if I did not show it on the back nine,” he said. “Although it stings right now I will be back and I can’t wait to be back. That’s what’s on my mind because it’s tough being in this position
“I’ve worked my whole life to lead in the Masters on Sunday, I had it in my hands and could have gone forward with it and didn’t quite make the putts and that’s what it came down to.
“I wanted to get into contention and that’s what happened but I can take a lot of positives away. My game held up and I feel like am ready to win a major. It’s just a matter of time and maybe a little bit of course knowledge.
“Ultimately hats off to him. He’s a deserving Masters champion this year. He played some incredible golf to make his pars down the stretch.”
Blixt, who finished fourth in the US PGA Championship last August, carded a closing 71 for his fourth sub-par round of the week.
“I’m kind of lost for words here,” he said. “It was a great day. I played decently, hit my driver a lot better, just didn’t get my approaches as close as I wanted and didn’t give myself enough opportunities to make birdies.
“Overall a decent round and when you shoot under par at Augusta National on a Sunday, you should be pretty happy. Bubba Watson played better, I got beat and he deserves to win. I congratulate him for that but I learned a lot today and have a lot more new experiences and can’t wait to come back.
“I think I got a little quick. I think I had a pretty good mindset out there and I really tried to make birdies, but I tried a little bit too hard at times.
“I don’t feel like the moment really got to me, but there was a couple good swings there that were a little quick and I just didn’t execute it as good as I wanted to.”