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Green jacket, golden moment for Watson

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POSTED April 14, 2014 5:56 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — For all the crazy stunts Bubba Watson does for fun, the green jacket was off limits.

When he won the Masters for the first time in 2012, he went to New York the next day for a media tour. He wore his green jacket walking the streets of Manhattan while going from one interview to the next one, and he was amazed by the attention it brought. No other piece of clothing in golf gets that kind of reaction.

But that was the extent of it. Watson spoke about his year with the green jacket a week before returning to Augusta National to claim another one.

“I left it in the closet,” he said. “Right or wrong, out of respect for the tournament and what it means, I didn’t take it out too much. Didn’t let my friends see it. Didn’t let them touch it. It’s a coveted trophy. It’s a big deal. And I know what kind of hard work it takes to get it.”

Watson was reminded of that hard work when he won the Masters on Sunday by three shots over 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt of Sweden.

Even in perfect weather — four days of sunshine, wind no more vexing than usual — only seven players broke par. And while Watson didn’t have to go extra holes and hit a wild hook out of the trees that “made me famous” as it did in 2012, just walking up the 18th fairway with a three-shot lead was no less exhausting.

Much is expected of major champions. Win two of them and the expectations get even higher. The question is whether Watson can develop some staying power.

His ability to make the golf ball do things few others can — like travel extraordinary distances — makes him one of the most exciting players in golf. The Masters was his sixth career win and took him to No. 4 in the world for the second time in his career.

How much higher can he go? If three rounds in the 60s at Augusta National — no one else broke 70 more than once all week — were not enough evidence of his skill set, consider a couple of shots on the back nine. One was a driver with a big fade around the corner on the 13th hole that clipped a tree and still went 366 yards, leaving him a sand wedge into a par 5.

“His drive on 13, I’ll never forget,” Spieth said. “I thought it was out of bounds, 70 yards left. And it’s perfect.”

The other was a 6-iron through the pines and over the water for his second shot on the par-5 15th, which led to par but eliminated bogey. Watson and caddie Ted Scott said it wasn’t as hard as it looked. Watson can make it look that way.

So what’s next for Bubba? The road should now look more like a wide-open interstate than a winding country lane.

Watson joined an exclusive list with his second Masters titles, one of only 17 players to win a green jacket more than once. Fifteen of the other multiple Masters champions are in the Hall of Fame. The other is Tiger Woods.

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