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Bubba pulls off the amazing; Ever-imaginative Watson goes for broke, comes up with first career major championship victory

Came out just like everyone thought it would, didn't it? The lefty won by hitting one of those shots that defies belief. Only it wasn't that lefty. Only it wasn't good for a fourth Masters title but a first. Only instead of the familiar scene between winner and wife, this one was winner and mother and the broad smiles of accomplishment were replaced by runaway tears of disbelief.

So there's Bubba Watson, parked in the pine straw 30 yards off the fairway on the second playoff hole, No. 10 at Augusta National. All he has to do is hit his approach 135 yards with a dastardly hook, being careful not to miss right or left, and certainly not long. It's hardly the approach shot he envisioned when standing on the tee after missing a 10-footer for the win the hole before.

But it's often said that an errant drive represents a chance at greatness and Watson, no stranger to wayward blows, probably was owed by the law of averages. He's been bombing it on the PGA Tour for six years now, hitting it places no one could imagine and hitting some crooked too. On the escapability meter he ranks a close second to Phil Mickelson, the lefty most everyone thought would win right up until, playing right-handed with an inverted club, he failed to extricate himself from the plant life alongside the No. 4 green. That's life in the fast lane.

Mickelson had no regrets for his zeal, rarely does, and Watson goes at the game the same way. Too many players end up in predicaments and curse their misfortune. Bubba goes the other route, making like a safecracker with 30 seconds to get the combination.

"We always joked about Bubba golf," Watson said. "My caddie has always called it Bubba golf. We always say it walking down fairways. I just play the game, the game that I love. And truthfully, it's like Seve [Ballesteros] played. He hit shots that were unbelievable. Phil Mickelson hits the shot, he goes for it.

"And if you watch Phil Mickelson, he goes for broke. And that's why he wins so many times. That's why he's not afraid. So for me, that's what I do. I just play golf. I attack. I always attack. I don't like to go to the center of the greens. I want to hit the incredible shot. Who doesn't?

That's why we play the game of golf, to pull off the amazing shot."

(Somewhere Jack Nicklaus is cringing).

Watson's playoff with Louis Oosthuizen had reached its crescendo. Stray tee shots at No. 10 created the likelihood that one of them would produce magic from their bag. And Oosthuizen had already used his allotment earlier in the day, with a 210-yard approach to No. 2 that rolled in the hole for only the fourth double eagle in Masters history. The playoff stage belonged to Watson.

"We had 135 front, is the only number I was looking at," Watson said. "I think we had like 164 hole, give or take, in that area, maybe a little less. And I hit 52-degree, my gap wedge, hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 feet off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising.

"Pretty easy," he joked.

"I have no idea where he was," Oosthuizen said. "Just where I stood from when the ball came out, it looked like a curveball going to the right. So I knew he had to hit a big hook. But an unbelievable shot. That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament."

Oosthuizen made only two birdies all day but you wanted him with the putter in his hands if your life was on the line. He retained the lead or a share of it with par-saving putts of 6 feet on No. 6, 13 feet on No. 14, and 4-footers on Nos. 17 and 18, the last to force the playoff. He was, statistically speaking, the most consistent player all week, tied for second in measured driving distance (290 yards), tied for seventh in fairways hit (82 percent) and tied for ninth in greens in regulation (70.8 percent).

But he couldn't convert with the short stick with two possible chances to win on No. 18 and he botched the second playoff hole with a short approach and a long chip that afforded Watson the luxury of a two-putt for the win. It was the only reprieve Bubba received all day.

Watson won the Masters the left-handed way -- he went for it with gusto. He dropped his tee shot 6 feet from the flag on No. 16 and stared it to 7 feet with a matter-of-fact glare, from where he made the playoff-forcing birdie. He conquered his inner demons with a pair of thunderous drives on No. 18 that set up the pars that kept him alive. And now he heads home to to his wife, Angie, and their newly adopted son, Caleb. Masters champion one day, learning how to change diapers the next.

"I never got this far in my dreams," Watson said. "So I can't even say it's a dream come true."

email: bdicesare@buffnews.com