In fact, it took Phil only one swing to dig a hole from which he would not recover. With a front-left pin placement on the tough par-3 4th, Mickelson's preferred miss was long and a bit left, but he overdid it—his ball clanged off a railing in the bleachers into a bamboo thicket on the edge of the property. It was the most unlucky carom since Jean van de Velde doinked a grandstand during his famous meltdown at the 1999 British Open, and it left Mickelson no place to take a drop for an unplayable lie. Phil the Thrill does everything but golf righthanded and has a long history of switch-hitting when unable to take his normal stance. "He won the Sun Devil Classic for us hitting righthanded from under an oleander bush to an island green," Loy says. This time it took Lefty two jabs from the wrong side of the ball to escape the thicket, leading to a homely triple bogey. He would never again get closer to the lead than two strokes.
Mickelson's misadventure was only the second-most-dramatic moment in the early going of the final round, as on the par-5 2nd hole Oosthuizen stirred the ghost of Gene Sarazen by holing his second shot for an albatross that vaulted him to 10 under and a two-stroke lead. With apologies to McIlroy, Oosthuizen may have the sweetest swing in the game. "Unfortunately, he doesn't have Rory's desire," says Oosthuizen's swing coach, Pete Cowen. "If Louis wanted it a little more, he could easily be the best player in the game."
Watson has the opposite problem—he cares too much, and the big question for this high-strung, jumpy competitor was whether he could calm his nerves on Masters Sunday. A three-putt on the 1st hole wasn't promising, especially since Watson had declared following his second round, "I am not a very good putter." Five strokes off the lead after his playing partner's double eagle, Watson rallied to birdie the 2nd and 5th holes. His charge to victory began at number 13, where he hit a nine-iron (!) into the par-5 and made birdie. He made another at 14 thanks to a gorgeous approach, cutting his deficit to a stroke, and Watson matched Oosthuizen's birdie at 15 when he reached the par-5 with seven-iron, what counts as a long iron for him. He finally pulled even with a pressure-proof eight-footer on 16, his fourth straight birdie in a finishing kick that evoked Charl Schwartzel's flourish of last year.
When Watson finally dispatched Oosthuizen in the playoff, he started to break down even before he pulled his ball out of the hole. Then he dissolved into tears in the arms of his mom, Molly. Turns out that for all his swagger, Watson has a soft heart. On Easter Sunday he got misty at any mention of his newly adopted son, Caleb, or his late father, Gerry, a Green Beret who was forever admonishing his son to swing harder at the Wiffle balls he batted around in the family's backyard. "My dad taught me everything I know," Watson says. "It's not very much, but that's all I know."
A willingness to laugh at his own goofiness is what makes Watson so endearing. When he came out on Tour he was so hard on himself, he scared people away with his brooding. As he has learned to minimize the negativity—he credits his wife's steadying influence and being born again in 2004 with altering his perspective—Watson has made deep friendships, which explains why Aaron Baddeley, Ben Crane and Rickie Fowler followed the playoff on foot. (Like Watson, all are regulars at the Tour's Bible-study sessions.) Noticeably absent was Angie, who is usually a towering presence in Bubba's gallery. A onetime WNBA player, she stands an inch taller than her 6'3" hubby. Angie had stayed in Florida to tend to Caleb, who is only six weeks old. Still, there was a definite family vibe when the Watson entourage gathered in Butler Cabin on Sunday night. Baddeley's two daughters were scampering around the cabin, which is decorated in a style best described as Southern masculine. "They call him Uncle Bubba," Baddeley said. "He'll be a great dad because he's just a big kid himself."
There was a bartender in the corner, but everybody was drinking soda—like Bubba, his friends and family are teetotalers. The general feeling in the room was dazed disbelief. Watson's caddie, Ted Scott, said to no one in particular, "I can't believe he gets to come back here for the next 40 years."
A club employee walked through the cabin with a green jacket on a hanger. Fowler looked at it longingly. "Please?" he asked. It wasn't for him. The jacket was a 43 long to replace the bigger one Watson had originally slipped on. "I'm more than happy with either one," Watson said. He was then led to the traditional champion's dinner with the Augusta National membership, a collection of the richest and most powerful men in the country. These are not exactly Bubba's people, but his seat at the table came the old-fashioned way: He earned it.