By Leonard ShapiroCSNWashington.com
It will always be The Shot that defined the 2012 Masters.
And were not talking about Louis Oosthuizens second shot at the par 5 second hole Sunday when his perfectly struck 4-iron from 253 yards out hit the green and rolled another 80 feet before dropping into the cup for only the fourth double eagle in tournament history.
That surely would have been The Shot if Oosthuizen had managed to beat Bubba Watson in a sudden death playoff. But it was Watson who stole the show, and most definitely earned his green jacket, with his second shot wedge from out of the woods on the second hole of the playoff.
How did he pull it off?
The best explanation Ive seen came from Watson himself in his rollicking pre-tournament press conference at last weeks Zurich Classic, where he was the defending champion.
Let's just go back to in Bagdad, Florida, where I grew up, Watson began. The big, tall 100-year-old trees, I had plastic golf balls, so I just learned to hit in the trees, throughout the trees, over the trees, under the trees. So when it comes to the creativity on the golf course, that's just who I am. That's just what I've done. So that doesn't scare me. It thrills me because then I can pull off some shots. That's more exciting. I don't care if the fans were there or what, just to pull that shot off -- if I was just playing with my buddies I'd want
to pull that shot off.
The shot, again, was roughly say 40 yards. Could have been more, could have been less, but we're going to go with 40. Just off the pine straw, knew it was going to come out pretty hot. I could make it come out hot, just rolled my wrist over and hooked it about 40 yards, but somehow it got closer to the hole. We were looking at the front of the green. It was 135 to the front of the green so we were just looking at getting to the center of the green.
For me it was just something as a child I'm used to seeing shots like that, so I pulled it off. To get that close was very special. I mean, made it work out. I was expecting front of the green, maybe center of the green at best because you never expect it to be that close. But it came off and I couldn't see it. I ran to the fairway and I heard them roar, and I said (to his caddy) where is it? He said, you see it about 15 feet, and I couldn't see it at first, and finally, he's got real good eyes so I couldn't see it. So I saw it, and I go whew, I'm pretty good.
That's how it all went down. Those shots, I try to pull off the amazing shot, just like we've seen Mickelson pull off shots, Tiger pull off shots, everybody that's won you've seen pull off shots like that. It's something you want to try to pull off, and somehow I did.
Watson went back to being a mere mortal in New Orleans, finishing tied for 18th place after a final round 70. And now the question being asked all around the wide world of golf is this. Was his victory at Augusta National an aberration, or a true coming out party for a man who has never had a formal lesson and is clearly among the most creative players of his generation?
Are we seeing the next Phil Mickelson, a four-time major champion and Hall of Famer, or Sergio Garcia, so creative but still looking for his first major title and even questioning whether he will ever have the right stuff to pull it off?
Personally, I believe Bubba is the real deal and Bubba Golfif I have a swing, I have a shot, he sayswill remain the staple of his daring game. Im hardly alone in that opinion. Listen to long-time golf instructor John Jacobs, who told Golf World magazine recently that if golf is controlling ball flightand I firmly believe that it isthen Bubba is one of the best Ive ever seen.
He knows exactly what he is doing to the ball, and thats the mark of a great player. Yes his swing is unorthodox, but I wouldnt change him at all. I would never change him until he plays badly. He is ever so much better than he looks. Believe me, theres genius there.
After The Shot at Augusta National, I believe. I believe.