The Jakarta Post
After 19 straight appearances and four wins, Tiger Woods announced on April 1st that he was going to miss the Masters for the first time since 1995.
Woods underwent back surgery on March 31 to relieve a pinched nerve. 'It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future,' said Woods. 'There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break.'
The 1st round of the 2014 Masters belonged to American Bill Haas, who took the lead at four under par, sinking some difficult putts across Augusta National Golf Club's glassy greens with a 68.
He was closely followed by the last two Masters champions, Australian Adam Scott and American Bubba Watson.
Scott and Watson both shot a 69 and were three under par alongside another major championship winner, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the 2010 Open champion.
Haas was asked if he had a connection to the Masters. 'My great uncle, my dad's uncle, Bob Goalby, won the Masters in 1968, and I think it's been a special place in our family since then,' he said.
The perfectly manicured fairways and greens greeted the field on another beautiful day for the 2nd round. Augusta wasn't as kind to Haas during round 2, where he made seven bogeys, a double bogey and three birdies to shoot a six over par 78.
Watson in the meantime seized the day and fired a 68 to move to seven under par for the event.
He had built a three stroke lead over Australian John Senden who shot a four under par 68 in round 2 to complement his even par score of round 1.
Tied for third at three under par were Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, Jonas Blixt of Sweden, the 20-yearold American Jordan Spieth and Scott.
The left-handed Watson had a phenomenal stretch of five birdies from 12 through 16.
'Just close my eyes and putt. You know, they went in,' he said. 'I'm a professional golfer. I made it to the Masters. So, obviously, I can play a little bit.'
The response punctuated the fact that Watson didn't entirely appreciate the question and didn't need to add that he'd won the event just two years ago. In only his first appearance at the Masters, the 20-year-old Spieth showed the veterans how to play Augusta during the 3rd round, shooting a two under par 70 in windy conditions to tie the lead at five under par.
Although Watson had a rough day on the greens, his pink driver gave him solace as he drove the ball magically to split Augusta's fairways during round 3.
Although he shot a two over par 70, he was still tied for the lead at five under going into the final round. Spieth would be paired with
Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, in the final group for Sunday's final round.
Due to the recent success of left-handed players at the Masters, Watson was asked if lefties had an advantage at Augusta. Watson couldn't resist but say: 'Well, yes. Lefties are the best,' to a laughing audience. 'No, I don't see it. I just see, you know, I like to cut the ball. A righty likes to draw the ball.'
It was Watson's week. With his laser-like driving precision and length off the tee he was difficult to beat. After stroking his final putt to claim victory, Watson turned to his caddie Ted Scott to give him a hug while breaking down in tears in vintage Bubba fashion.
His 2-year-old son Caleb then ran across the green into the open arms of his emotional and jubilant father. '[A] small town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets, it's pretty wild,' Watson would later say.
A small town guy who's made the big time on golf's major championship stage, not once but twice on his march to greatness.