Bubba Watson won golf's Masters Tournament for the second time in three years, preventing Jordan Spieth from becoming the youngest winner in the 78-year history of the season's first major championship.
Watson shot a 3-under-par 69 today, giving him a four-round total of 8 under 280 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. He finished three strokes ahead of Spieth, 20, and fellow Masters rookie Jonas Blixt of Sweden.
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Bubba Watson wins US Masters
American Bubba Watson claims his second green jacket with a three-shot victory at the 2014 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Watson, 35, made five birdies, including two in a row at the eighth and ninth holes, where he went from two shots behind Spieth to two shots ahead. After Spieth made bogey at the par-3 12th hole, where his tee shot rolled back into Rae's Creek in front of the green, Watson pushed his lead to three strokes with another birdie at the par-5 13th hole.
Watson, who entered the final round tied for the lead with Spieth at 5 under, receives $1.62 million for his sixth career win. He rebounded from yesterday's third-round 74 to finish with the largest margin of victory at the Masters since Phil Mickelson's three-shot win in 2010. Watson started crying as he hugged his caddie in celebration after his final putt for a par on the 18th green. He then picked up his 2-year-old son, hugged his wife and slapped hands with fans around the green.
Spain's 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez finished fourth at 4 under, two shots better than Americans Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler.
Watson, who shot rounds of 69 and 68 the first two days to lead by three shots, is the 17th player to win the Masters at least twice. The others to win two titles are Horton Smith, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Jack Nicklaus won a record six Masters championships, followed by Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods each with four. Phil Mickelson is among a group of players with three titles, and Watson joins him as the only left-handed golfers with multiple wins at Augusta National.
Watson two years ago broke through for his first major title by beating Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff. A self-taught player and one of the longest hitters on tour, Watson's creativity on the golf course was encapsulated in the 2012 playoff, when he hooked an approach shot from deep in the magnolia trees off the 10th hole that landed on the green to save a championship-winning par.
In his Masters return as champion a year ago, Watson said he was overwhelmed by the media demands and expectations of fans that put his every move under scrutiny. He made the cut for weekend play by a single stroke and ended up tying for 50th place, his worst finish in five Masters appearances.
This year, Watson said he felt far more comfortable, free from the demands of being the reigning champion. He also changed his approach, playing nine practice holes a day leading up to the start of the tournament to conserve energy and help with his mental focus. Watson then opened with consecutive rounds in the 60s to take the 36-hole lead.
It was erased on Saturday, when his five bogeys were three more than he'd made the first two days combined. Watson's two bogeys today were offset by his five birdies, including the four he had in a six-hole span starting at the par-3 fourth that gave him the lead for good.
Spieth was seeking to supplant Tiger Woods as the youngest champion in the Masters' 78-year history. Woods was 21 when he won the first of his four titles in 1997.
Spieth and Blixt were also trying to join Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 as the only first-time participants to win the Masters since Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen captured the first two titles in 1934 and 1935. After rounds of 71, 70 and 70 the first three days, Spieth closed with a final-round 72. Blixt had scores of 70, 71, 71 and 71, joining Zoeller as the second Masters rookie with all four rounds under par.
Adam Scott, who claimed Australia's first Masters title a year ago, tied for 14th place at 1 over, one shot behind a group that included Rory McIlroy and Langer. Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, shot a final-round 75 to finish 3 over.