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Inside Augusta National

Inside Augusta National

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An oral history of Bubba Watson's incredible hook shot that set up his Masters triumph

Bubba Watson, Masters 2012, Augusta 10th hole
Fred Vuich/Sports Illustrated
Bubba Watson took a sharpie to this overhead photo of Augusta's 10th hole to draw the flight path of his drive and infamous hook shot in the playoff at the 2012 Masters.

At 2:30 on a lovely April afternoon, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen set off in the final round of the 2012 Masters. They are in the second-to-last pairing. Oosty, an easygoing South African, is two strokes behind Peter Hanson; the high-strung Bubba, by way of the Florida Panhandle, is three back. They have no way of knowing the drama that awaits them: jaw-dropping shots, wild momentum swings, agonizing misses and, ultimately, one of the most memorable finishes in Masters history.

OPENING SALVO
Oosthuizen needs only a hole and a half to turn this Masters on its ear, as he jars a 253-yard four-iron on the par-5 2nd hole for the most celebrated albatross around Augusta since Gene Sarazen's deuce at the 15th hole in 1935.

Oosthuizen: I played the shot exactly like I wanted, but obviously there's some luck involved. What I remember most is how long it took the ball to roll across the green toward the hole. The noise was building and building.

Watson: When it went in, I forgot for a minute I was playing in the Masters -- I turned into a fan. That was an awesome shot, man. I was happy I got to see it. I wanted to run over and give him a high five.

Jim Nantz, CBS announcer: From that moment on, I think we all had a feeling it would be Oosthuizen's day. He's got to win the Masters so that shot can find its place in history. It's too big, too rare. He can't make that double eagle and not win the tournament. Right?

Oosthuizen's albatross propels him two strokes clear of the field. Watson birdies the 2nd, leaving him four behind his playing partner. On a firm, fast setup, none of the contenders are going low. Oosty plays the next 10 holes in two over par but remains atop the leaderboard. When Bubba three-putts from the fringe on 12, he falls two off the lead and into a funk.

Watson: After that bogey, I'm thinking I probably can't win. I'm thinking, Well, finish strong and maybe get a top five. Then all the craziness began.

Watson regroups on the par-5 13th hole, reaching the green with a nine-iron (!) and two-putting for his first birdie since the 5th. But Oosthuizen makes his first birdie of the day to remain two ahead of his playing partner.

Angie Watson, Bubba's wife: Thirteen was when I started to get nervous. He played that hole so confidently I felt like he was going to keep making birdies.

Angie is watching the telecast at a rented home in Orlando with their only child, six-week-old Caleb.

Angie: We were still finalizing the adoption, and because of Florida law Caleb wasn't allowed to leave the state. Bubba had only spent two days with him before it was time for him to go to Augusta. It was hard for him to leave. He talked a few times about withdrawing, but I wouldn't let him. I said, "It's your favorite tournament, you love being there, just go play your best for your son." It was the hardest goodbye we've ever had.

COMEBACK KID
Watson, who led Georgia to the SEC championship in 2000, birdies 14, 15 and 16 to tie Oosthuizen for the lead.

Oosthuizen: The atmosphere was tremendous. Bubba is going to be popular wherever he plays, but especially around there. The noise was so great, there were times I could feel it in my chest. You always dream of what it would feel like to come down the closing holes at Augusta with a chance to win. It was even more exciting than you can imagine.

Still tied on the 72nd hole, Oosthuizen flies his adrenaline-fueled approach shot to the upper tier of the green, and his long, downhill birdie putt trickles six feet past the hole. Watson now has a 20-footer to win the Masters.

Nantz: I set the stage for that ball to go in the hole. I was feeling it! We have seen so many dramatic putts made on that green. When Bubba missed, it was impossible not to feel a little sense of letdown.

Watson: It was pretty much the same putt Mark O'Meara had [in 1998]. I thought I knew the break, but it stayed a little high. But [Oosthuizen] still had a tough putt for par, so the last thing I want to do is run my putt too far past. I was trying to make it, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking, Just leave a tap-in.

With the Masters hanging in the balance, Oosthuizen holes his par putt, setting up sudden death. Watson's closest friends on Tour -- Aaron Baddeley, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler -- decide to watch the playoff in person.

Crane: I know when I've won and had friends out there with me, it means the world. It's so cool to have your friends share it with you. Rickie and I were in the caddie room watching TV with our caddies. He was in street clothes and I was still in my golf clothes, and I say, "Hey, Rick, if this happens, you might want to go and change real quick." All of a sudden he came back and he's in golf clothes.

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