As far as the forest escapes go, it was up there with Hansel and Gretel. At the 2012 Masters, on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff against Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson pushed his drive deep into the right trees on the No. 10 at Augusta National. His chances of survival looked decidedly bleak. Except to Bubba himself.
“Before I even reached my ball, I was already looking away,” Watson said afterwards during the champion’s press conference. This “hole” was the narrow hallway formed by customers left and right. The only problem: it points miles to the left of the green. But, with Oosthuizen facing tough ground after a shaky approach, Bubba had hope. More optimistic than CBS analyst Nick Faldo, who, when asked by broadcast partner Jim Nantz if Watson had a chance of putting the shot anywhere near the green, replied: “I don’t. doubt, to be honest.”
The fact that he had already made a par of the good trees on regulation No. 10 boosted Watson’s spirits. A clean lie in the pine straw – “almost like a fairway”, Watson later noted – made it easier to shape the shot. In keeping with his glass-half-full attitude, a nearby TV camera tower also became a blessing.
“Even though the tower was in my way, I didn’t want to ask if I’m getting any relief or anything because he just set himself up for a perfect draw – well, hook,” said the left-hander.
Watson had about 164 yards to the hole, but the number in his head was 134 yards, the carry to the front of the green. What followed was the apotheosis of “Bubba golf” and perhaps the most famous string hook in golf history. His checklist: cover the face of the club, close his stance, and “swing as hard as you can” from the inside out.
“I hit 52 degrees, my gap wedge, hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 feet off the ground until it went under the tree, then started to go up,” Watson said in the glow of victory, laughing. “Pretty easy.”
After Oosthuizen finally tapped for bogey, “pretty easy” also described the two putts from 10 feet that earned Watson his first of two Masters wins to date, shaped by one of the most masterful never struck.