April 13, 2014
For the second time in three years, Bubba Watson slipped into a green jacket, having mastered the course at Augusta and out shot the competition on the final day of the Masters tournament.
For once, that competition did not include two of the world’s top golfers: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Woods, still No. 1, withdrew before the tournament started, due to back surgery, while Mickelson failed to make the Masters cut for the first time since 1997. Notably, Rory McIlory, ranked No. 2 behind Woods, fizzled out before the final day.
In the absence of golf’s biggest names, Watson and up-and-comer Jordan Spieth stepped into the spotlight. 20-year-old Spieth seemed poised to win, after he birdied four of the first seven holes to briefly take a two-shot lead. The lead was short lived, as Watson birdied the 8th and 9th holes to distance himself from the competition, and again on the par-5 13th hole to finish at 69, 8 under par. After five straight pars to end the final round, Watson broke down with his caddie and wife by his side, knowing he had once again won the Masters.
“A small town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets,” Watson said, after the green sports coat was draped on his shoulders. “It’s pretty wild.”
Spieth finished at 72, three shots behind Watson and a tie for second with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt (71) at 5 under par. Miguel Angel Jimenez, who shot 71 and 4 under par, rounded out the top four.
Watson, who won his first green jacket in 2012, was never in contention in last year’s Masters tournament, finishing in 50th place. After a poor performance last year, he acknowledged how much this win meant to him. “The first one, it was almost like I lucked into it,” Watson said afterwards. “This one was a lot of hard work and dedication. After giving that jacket away last year, I wanted it back.”
After losing three straight, the Nationals (8-5) bounced back in spectacular fashion.
Fresh off a three-game sweep by the division rival Atlanta Braves, the Nats headed into Miami with their bats ready. They scored a season-high 16 hits, including three triples, en route to a 9-2 victory over the Marlins.
“That was a tough weekend, but they came out today, they responded, they played hard,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “That’s a good thing.”
Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (1-0) did his part on the mound, allowing just six hits and two runs over seven innings. He wasn’t too shabby at the plate, either, going 2-for-3 with two singles and a sacrifice bunt. It was a complete turnaround from his appearance against Miami last Wednesday, when he gave up five runs in less than two innings at Nationals Park.
For the Nats, the win was truly a team effort. Tyler Moore hit a home run, while Anthony Rendon had three RBIs. Danny Espinosa added two hits, and Sandy Leon hit his first career home run. Bryce Harper, who has had a slow start to the season, broke out with two doubles and a triple before leaving the game in the seventh inning due to quad tightness.
“A lot of guys on our team are swinging it well,” Harper said. “It’s contagious.”
Washington will play two more games against Miami before heading home for a weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals.