AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There were no tears this time on Masters Sunday from defending champion Bubba “ The Bawler” Watson, though few would have blamed him after he hit three balls in the water at the signature 155-yard 12th hole Sunday and took a 10 on the par-3.
That Tin Cup catastrophe led to an ugly final-round 5-over-par 77, completing a week when he finished at 7-over 295, a total of 17 more shots than he needed to win in 2012. He never did manage to post a score in the 60s in defense of his title.
The native of Milton, who cried when he won a year ago and did it again Tuesday in his pretournament news conference, insisted Sunday he had a grand old time this week, taking in all the sights and sounds of Augusta National from inside the ropes.
“You know it’s funny,” he said. “If you’re not going to win, you’ve got to get in the record book somehow. So I’m a guy that got a double-digit score on a par 3. When you look back at this week, I had nine three-putts, three balls in the water on 11, a 10. You add that all up, a tie for 50th is a pretty good week.”
Asked if it was difficult to relish his final round, he said, “No, I enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t enjoy it? I was playing on Sunday, so no matter what place I finished I was going to get a paycheck, so I’ll be able to eat this week. And no matter what, unless I make them mad, I’m coming back for the rest of my life.”
Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old phenom from China, played his final round with 1988 champion Sandy Lyle and attracted another huge gallery to watch the youngest player to make the cut in a major championship.
Guan posted a 75 that included birdies at the 13th and 16th holes and finished at 12-over 300. But he was the only amateur among six who started to play on the weekend, and he was honored as the low amateur at the green jacket presentation in the Butler Cabin after the round.
“I think I did a pretty good job this week and can’t believe it’s over,” he said. “I feel a little bit tired today. There’s a lot of things to improved. My short game is good but still needs to be better. My driver probably needs to be longer. Everything needs to improve.”
Lyle, 59, was suitably impressed with his playing partner.
“If he can stay untouched with too many teachers and just play his natural game, I think he’ll be in good shape,” he said. “He’s not a textbook perfect swing right now, but I’m sure that will be ironed out in the next few years.”
Lefty not right
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson did not have a round in the 60s this week, finishing with a 73 that included five bogeys on his back-nine 39 for a total of 9-over 297, his worst score here since 2007.
“I just had an off year. I don’t know what to tell you. I played poorly,” he said. “This was disappointing for me in that this is my favorite place in the world to play, my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament and one I look forward to the day after it ends. To perform like this is disappointing. I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game.”
Rory McIlroy’s struggles at Augusta National continued this week when he shot himself out of contention with a 79 on Saturday. The No. 2 player in the world rankings, who led this event after three rounds in 2011 only to shoot 80 on Sunday, was never really a factor in the tournament a week after finishing second in the Texas Open.
McIlroy found water on two holes and posted 42 on his back nine Saturday, and it was over and out for the lad from Northern Ireland. He did manage to come back Sunday with a 69 that left him at 2-over 290, but that was little consolation.
“It’s disappointing, especially after such a good start,” said McIlroy, who was 2-under after 36 holes. “I was only a few off the lead going into the seventh hole [Saturday]. All the sudden, I play seven through 11 in 5-over-par. That’s basically my chances in the tournament gone. It’s just another frustrating day here.”