AUGUSTA, GA. – There are truisms about the Masters.
Like: The tournament starts on the back nine on Sunday.
Like: You can tell what’s happening by the famous roars that resound around Augusta National.
Like: The Masters can be the most thrilling major because it offers the best risk-reward holes.
None of the truisms was true on Sunday, and the result was a final round that probably didn’t thrill anyone who isn’t related to or employed by winner Bubba Watson.
The thrilling back nine? Watson made a bogey on 10, a birdie on 13, and otherwise parred his way to victory. Only one player who finished within seven shots of the lead managed to go 3 under par on the back nine — Miguel Angel Jimenez, whose front-nine 38 had taken him out of realistic contention.
When Watson went from two back of Jordan Spieth to a two-shot advantage in a span of three holes (the seventh, eighth and ninth), the tournament was over. The roars? There weren’t many. The biggest crowds amass around Amen Corner, and by the 15th and 16th greens, and there were no shots on Sunday that will join the memory of Tiger Woods’ chip-in for the ages on 16 in 2005.
The tournament became a grind-it-out affair, with even Watson playing for pars.
In the end, Spieth hit too many shaky shots to challenge Watson. Paired in the final group, they went to the par-3 12th with Watson holding a two-shot lead. Watson played it safe, hitting the ball over the back of the green and leaving himself with a reasonable chip. Spieth went at the flag, his ball hit the shaved bank and tumbled into the water.
Spieth managed to save bogey, but Watson made par and took a three-shot lead.
“That was tough to swallow at that point,’’ Spieth said.
No first-time Masters entrant has won the tournament since 1979. Spieth and Jonas Blixt, in their first attempts, finished tied for second at 5 under, just ahead of the 50-year-old Jimenez. Another first-timer, Jimmy Walker, finished tied for eighth.
“I think Jordan and I have kind of similar games, and I think that plays into playing well at this golf course,’’ Blixt said. “It was a lot of fun to play out there.’’
It didn’t look like fun. With swirling winds and fast greens worrying the players, only one player who finished in the top 25 shot as low as 68 — Stewart Cink.
“There’s a lot of tricky pins out there,’’ Blixt said. “It’s hard to be aggressive around here.’’