Watson wins sudden-death play-off against Oosthuizen

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

South African's extraordinary albatross is in vain after American holds nerve at the second extra hole

Augusta

It was perhaps fitting that a Masters which stretched the limits of sporting incredulity was won by an American eccentric who conjured an outrageous major-winning birdie. Bubba Watson denied Louis Oosthuizen on a day which featured the South African record the fourth albatross in the 83-year history of Augusta's magnificent event.

Watson was in the trees on the second extra hole – the 10th – and needing a miracle. But with that self-taught swing which creates barely imaginable movement he produced an incredible hook which finished within 12ft. Oosthuizen could not get up and down and so the drama ended in glory for the 33-year-old from Florida. Bubba blubbed. He had every right to cry.

It says so much about the frenetic nature of this feast that by the time Watson had tapped in the miracle of four hours before was a distant memory. It was the Masters which had everything – including a play-off. When Watson and Oosthuizen walked back to the 18th it was a chance for Augusta to take a breath. Blimey, it was needed. This cathedral of the pines had just witnessed one of the game's greatest shots and one of the most gripping back nines.

Oosthuizen's four-iron had sent him clear, but Watson hauled him back with four birdies in a row from the 13th. After Oosthuizen had made a nerveless five-footer to send it into extra time the big-hitting Watson stood tallest, proving that you don't have to be mad to keep your cool in the most pressurised of atmospheres – but it certainly helps.

At 10-under there were two shots back to Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Peter Hanson in a tie for third. A few more would have left the National counting up the "if onlys".

It had to go some to rival the drama of last year. It eclipsed those remarkable scenes. This was a white-knuckled ride with so many candidates hanging on to the rollercoaster. Turning for home there were eight players within four shots. They included Westwood and Ian Poulter for England and Padraig Harrington for Ireland. The trio played a full part, Westwood in particular displaying outrageous form with wood and iron. His 68 left him two shots short and when one considers the missed putts this was yet another major that got away. It must have been hard to take.

This was Westwood's seventh top three in his last 15 majors, a remarkable run. Except he wants the magical Sunday. He doesn't need to be told that he led the green-in-regulation statistics or that he took 98 putts in his first three rounds. The realisation was written all over his face. It has to be his day soon.

His ball-striking on the back nine was peerless. The wood on to the 15th green was perfectly struck to 10 feet, but somehow the ball managed to rest an inch on the opposite side of the hole. No matter, he marched to the 16th and put it 14 feet. The putt dribbled wide. The 17th he put he to 10 feet, the putt dribbled wide. On the 18th, he holed a nine-footer. At eight-under he went to prepare for a possible play-off. But deep down he knew.

Westwood is 39 in a fortnight and will be a big factor at the US Open in San Francisco. Only a fool would predict otherwise. Poulter is another who will head to the Olympic Club with conviction. Little over a month ago he had pneumonia. He shrugged off the fatigue to finish seventh, his best here.

An albatross at Augusta is only just less commonplace than a female member. Never mind giving this Masters a spark, Oosthuizen threw paraffin and so many boxes of matches on the 76th conclusion of the season's first major. Somewhere up above, Gene Sarazen allowed himself a little chuckle.

Of course, it was the great American who produced "the shot heard across the world", by holing his second at the par-five 15th. Nobody had ever, in 89 years, conjured a two on the 575-yarder. Oosthuizen defied the record books.

Starting the day two behind the Hanson, the 2010 Open champion stood over his 253-yard four-iron approach thinking of making the putting surface. The observer could tell he liked it straight away. And so it hopped on to the green. Crikey, this was going to be close. Very close. It was destined to drop, rolling up and into the hole with perfect weight. Cue bedlam.

Oosthuizen raised his arms, before performing "a high 10" with his caddie, Wynard Stander, which missed. He threw the ball into the crowd, the lucky recipient being a New Zealander called Wayne Mitchell. The rumour was the greenjackets "acquired" the ball from the gentleman, who had apparently been offered $20,000 by an auction house.

In one shot Oosthuizen had gone from being two behind to one ahead. With Hanson bogeying the first, Oosthuizen was three ahead, although by the eighth, Watson and Kuchar had closed to within two. Wasn't it golf's great entertainer, Mickelson, charged with introducing the electricity?

The left-hander did that; but it was negative rather than positive. Mickelson sliced the ball off the grandstand into the trees on the fourth, took two right-handed swings in the cabbage, then chunked a flop-shot into a bunker off a tight lie, then almost holed his bunker. The triple-bogey six dropped him to five-under, four behind Oosthuizen. But no Masters champion has ever posted a triple, never mind two and the three-time champion could only drag his way back to a level 72.

So it was another left-hander who launched the assault which felled Oosthuizen. His father died last year, which accounts for the tears. After a three-putt on the 12th, Watson went into attack mode. It came off, courtesy of that quartet of birdies and, of course, that piece of supreme skill in the play-off.

Oosthuizen – who made so many gutsy par saves – had achieved immortality. A crystal bowl is on the way to his residence in West Palm Beach – and a plaque will be on its way to that spot on the second fairway. What a start for Oosthuizen, what a start to a major.

The Masters hadn't seen an albatross – or "a double eagle" as they call it over – in 19 years since Jeff Maggert at the 13th. Oosthuizen has provided emphatic proof that his seven-shot win at St Andrews was anything but a fluke. And whatever the result of the play-off, Oosthuizen at least had a moment to toast. If only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy could have said the same.

Woods was lifeless in a 74 which ensured his worst finish at The Masters in 15 years as a professional, at a place which was supposed his theatre. There was a nice moment when he gave a mock fist-pump and a roar when birdieing the 18th. Don't believe his wry smile. Deep down he was in agony.

So much for The Tiger and Rory Show. It was supposed to be the main act, but it did not even qualify as a warm-up. They finished together on five over, tied for 41st. In the event, golf didn't require a battle between the generations to thrill the heart. The Masters requires nothing else but the magic of Augusta.

Bubba blubbed. And everyone with a sporting soul acknowledged why.

Leaderboard

The Masters, Augusta National GC, Georgia

Selected FINAL ROUND SCORES (US unless stated, par 72)

278 B Watson 69 71 70 68, L Oosthuizen (SA) 68 72 6969. (Watson wins sudden death play-off)

280 L Westwood (GB) 67 73 72 68, M Kuchar 71 70 70 69, P Hanson (Swe) 68 74 65 73, P Mickelson 74 68 66 72.

283 I Poulter (GB) 72 72 70 69.

284 J Rose (GB) 72 72 72 68, A Scott (Aus) 75 70 73 66, P Harrington (Ire) 71 73 68 72.

285 J Furyk 70 73 72 70.

286 K Na 71 75 72 68, G McDowell (GB) 75 72 71 68, S Garcia (Sp) 72 68 75 71.

289 J Dufner 69 70 75 75, A Hansen (Den) 76 72 73 68, P Lawrie (GB) 69 72 72 76.

290 V Singh (Fiji) 70 72 76 72, R Fowler 74 74 72 70.

291 A Cabrera (Arg) 71 78 71 71, L Donald (GB) 75 73 75 68.

292 B Haas 72 74 76 70, Sang-moon Bae (S Kor) 75 71 69 77, T Bjorn (Den) 73 76 74 69

293 A Baddeley (Aus) 71 71 77 74, R McIlroy (GB) 71 69 77 76, T Woods 72 75 72 74.

294 M Kaymer (Ger) 72 75 75 72, K Chappell 71 76 71 76, W Simpson 72 74 70 78.

295 S Stricker 71 77 72 75, R Fisher (GB) 71 77 73 74, P Cantlay 71 78 74 72.

298 M Angel Jimenez (Sp) 69 72 76 81.

299 M Laird (GB) 76 72 74 77, Y E Yang (S Kor) 73 70 75 81, E Molinari (It) 75 74 76 74.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone