Bubba Watson escapes from pine straw on 18th with ‘best shot I’ve ever hit at Augusta National’

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bubba Watson’s shot out of the trees on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the 2012 Masters is one of the most famous in golf history.

His shot with a wide wedge on the deep woods pine straw at Augusta National snagged about 40 yards on the elevated 10th green. The ball settled about 10 feet from the hole and Watson made the par to earn his first green jacket.

As the 10th anniversary of that epic shot approaches, Watson, now a two-time Masters champion, thinks he could have hit an even better one in the second round on Friday.

“I’m going to be honest, not that you want to know, but it was the best shot I ever made at Augusta National,” Watson said. “That one.”

After Watson, a southpaw, hooked his tee shot deep into the woods on the right side of the 18th fairway, he found his ball sitting on a stick and surrounded by leaves.

“My ball was two inches in the air,” Watson said. “There was like a piece of a branch – about as big – that fell on the ground, and my ball was sitting on it. There were two leaves behind that I couldn’t move and two leaves touching it that I couldn’t move.”

When Watson looked up at the trees, he saw a small gap towards the hole.

“[The gap was] very tall, probably the highest point of the trees there,” Watson said. “All I was trying to do was hit a corner. It’s reckless, isn’t it? If I hit a pitching wedge as hard as I could, I thought I could hit that gap. I wasn’t looking at the green.”

As Watson stood above his ball, a gust of wind blew a leaf directly overhead. He called a rules official and informed him that his ball had not moved. The rules officer assured Watson that he would not incur a penalty and he carefully removed the sheet.

Watson kicked his ball and it flew high into the air. Somehow he made it through the pines untouched and bounced around the green before settling 2 feet from the hole.

“He got out,” Watson said. “Because of that lie and because of the tree branch, because of the leaves – they were big thick leaves – he caught a thief. He grabbed like a punch.”

Watson birdie putted to end the round at 1 of 73. He is 2 over after 36 holes. Regardless of what happens over the weekend, Watson has another indelible memory at Augusta National.

“No one in the world would have tried that shot I tried,” Watson said. “There is no one on the planet who would have tried. We can sit here and they can tell me they would try. There is no one who would have tried. [that I] I believe he could have succeeded.”