Bubba Watson isn't the left hander who was supposed to win The Masters. That honor was supposed to have gone to the "Lefty" - a/k/a Phil Mickelson - after he set Augusta National ablaze with a back nine 6-under par 30 on Saturday afternoon, making it seem inevitable that he would win his fifth Green Jacket.
But there was Bubba - the Bagdad, Florida native and University of Georgia product who talks proudly of never having taken a golf lesson - improvising his way to a sudden death victory over South African farm boy Louis Oosthuizen and his classic golf swing. The highlights of their battle will be part of the indelible Masters memories that will be shown as long as the tournament exists.
After both players finished 72 holes at 10-under par 278 and parred the first hole of sudden death (No. 18), the drama moved to the 10th hole, a sloping treelined downhill dogleg left par 4. There, Bubba hooked his tee shot long and deep into the woods and pine straw right of the fairway. Louis hit his drive short and into the right rough and hit his second short of the green.
Most pro golfers are so talented they can hit extreme hooks and slices on command. But they usually save such shots for exhibitions and junior clinics when they want to generate some oohs and aahs from the crowd. Their golf instructors lecture them sternly never to hit such shots in competition - except when totally necessary - and that the way to success is to play conservatively.
Bubba plays golf differently. He hits a golf ball the way people play Frisbee - flinging the thing up in the air way to the right or left of the target and curving it into its final destination. When it comes to imagination, Bubba's the Seve Ballesteros of the Good Ol' Boy set.
And he does it all the time whether he needs to or not.
So, when it came to hooking a wedge out of the trees and curving it 40 yards onto the green, it was nothing out of the ordinary for Bubba.
"I was there earlier today, during regulation, so I was used to it," said Bubba. "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."
He smashed down on the ball as hard as he could. The CBS camera behind him showed the ball explode out of the trees and make a right turn toward the green, where it rolled up 10 feet from the cup. Roaring crowd, as if the South were rising again. Louis' pitch from in front of the green wound up on the back collar, he missed the par putt, and watched Bubba two-putt for the win.
Earlier in the day, it had seemed inevitable that Louis would win. He leap-frogged Mickelson and final round leader Peter Hanson when he made an historic double eagle 2 on the par 5 second hole and moved to 10-under par. He cooly drained several mid-length par-saving putts all afternoon, but couldn't get lower than 10-under for the tournament.
Meanwhile, Bubba lit up the back nine in regulation for four straight birdies from holes 13-16, playing like a man with a purpose. In fact, he had one. Just a couple of weeks ago, he and wife Angie adopted a one-month old son.
Mickelson flamed out with a triple bogey 6 on the par 3 fourth and couldn't recover. They'll still call him "Lefty," but the "other" lefty isn't worried. He already has a nickname he seemed to be born with: he's called Bubba.