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2014 Masters Tournament: Bubba Watson’s Outstanding Short Game Has Him Back at the Top

2014 Masters Bubba Watson

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Although Bill Haas will spend Friday night at the top of the Masters Tournament leaderboard, he’s got quite the group right on his heels. Namely, a trio of golfers who each have green jackets in their wardrobe already. One of them also happens to carry a bright pink driver to go with it.

When Bubba Watson won the Masters in 2012, it was as emotional of a victory as we’d ever seen. He shed tears on the 18th green as he hugged his caddie, and then his wife Angie and their newly adopted son, Caleb. His return to Augusta last season was a bit of a letdown, as he could only muster a tie for 50th place. He only earned three top-tens in 2013, and it was generally a down season.

Watson may be known for his aggressive, booming style of “Bubba Golf,” but today’s effort also showed his brilliance in navigating a course. He hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation, and although his driving is the main attraction, his short game is what’s gotten him back on top.

While “Amen Corner” – the 11th through 13th holes – did a number on several players, Watson went through unscathed. In fact, when his approach shot on the 13th cleared the tributary of Rae’s Creek easily, it was his ability to deal with the remarkably fast greens that nearly scored him an eagle on the hole.

It’s not as though we should be surprised by Watson’s performance. He didn’t win in 2012 by accident, and he’s been one of the best players on the PGA Tour for most of this year. He readily admits that nerves may have gotten the best of him last year, but he’s back where he needs to be mentally, and that makes him a very dangerous player.

Brandon Raper is the lead golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and join him on Google+.