Bubba Waston (C) of the U.S hugs his caddie Ted Scott as Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (R) looks on
Bubba Watson was not the left-handed maverick most of us expected to win The Masters on Sunday, but his triumph is one for the very same brand of high-risk touch play that has put Phil Mickelson in a green jacket three times before.
The all-swinging, endlessly imaginative Watson ultimately won in the most appropriate fashion imaginable - summoning a remarkable approach from the pine straw to end his play-off against South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen at the 10th.
With trees blocking his path to the green, Watson coaxed an improbable flop-shot from his armoury and proceeded to land his ball 15 feet from the pin. With Oosthuizen unable to make par, the American had the simple task of two-putting to end their play-off at its second hole.
It was a first Major for the 33-year-old Watson, who lost out in a play-off at the 2010 US PGA Championship and has long been considered one of the most naturally gifted players in golf.
And it bought to end an enthralling final day's play at the 76th Masters, during which were threatened at least 10 different winners as the action ebbed and flowed and the roars sounded all around the famous Augusta National course.
The day caught fire when Oosthuizen made an historic albatross at the par-five 2nd. It was the first ever at the hole and only the fourth in Masters history, and it naturally summoned talk of Gene Sarazen's legendary "shot heard round the world" in 1935.
With that Oosthuizen airlifted himself into the lead and for a while it looked like the 2010 Open champion wouldn't be caught.
But Watson birdied 13, 14, 15 and 16 to get up alongside him and as the pair headed up the 18th it was a straight shoot-out for the green jacket. Watson had a chance to win it, but his putt slipped by and off they went to the play-off.
Others had their chance. Lee Westwood got to eight under and will look back on some putts that didn't drop. Mickelson will rue a messy triple-bogey at the 4th that was ultimately the difference between outright victory and a tie for third.
Try as he might, not even Lefty could extricate himself from that hole.
Matt Kuchar is another who''ll be kicking himself. The likeable American was in a share of lead, but played the last three holes in one over par to put paid to his chances.
Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter both flirted with a run too, but neither could summon the electric back nine they would have need to present a realistic challenge.
In the end, Watson was a deserving champion. And he'll prove an extremely popular one too, given his laid-back demeanour and emphasis on shot-making and expression on the golf course. His caddy Ted Scott says he rarely practices, which goes to show just how gifted Watson must be and how much he relies on "feel".
A year ago everybody was talking about Watson's appearance in a parody music video by a group called "The Golf Boys", and the song they recorded for charity.
Twelve months' later and Watson was in Butler Cabin, being presented the green jacket by last year's winner, Charl Schwartzel, and breaking down in tears.
"I never got this far in my dreams," he said.
Watson got there at Augusta by a breathtaking combination of artistry and bravery - and there's no doubt his success will have many people picking up clubs and trying to emulate him for many years to come.
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