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Why This Was the Greatest Masters in 25 Years

High drama, historic shots, and players with compelling backstories combined to make the golf tournament unforgettable.


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In the hour before CBS opened its live coverage of the final round of the Masters on Sunday, the network commemorated the 25th anniversary of the unforgettable 1987 Masters, when Larry Mize chipped in from 40 yards on the second playoff hole to defeat a stunned Greg Norman.

Over the next five and a half hours, the 2012 edition of golf's greatest tournament unveiled the most memorable final round at Augusta since Mize's chip, with an ending that was just as spectacular.

Sunday's final round did not have the almost-divine feel of Tiger Woods' 12-shot win in 1997, nor the cresting tidal wave of emotions of Phil Mickelson's come-from-behind victory in 2004. But Bubba Watson's victorious day had every ingredient needed for an Easter Sunday to remember at Augusta. Here are the factors that contributed to its greatness:

A marquee leaderboard Six men had a shot to win on the back nine Sunday, and other than affable Swede Peter Hanson, all of them were household names with compelling storylines. There was Mickelson, knocking on the doorstep of a fourth green jacket that would tie him with Tiger and Arnold Palmer for second all-time (Jack Nicklaus has six). There was Lee Westwood, the latest Best-Player-To-Never-Win-A-Major, looking to finally break through at Augusta. There was Matt Kuchar, a Georgia boy with a smile wider than a gimme putt and a loyal following in the gallery.

And then there were the two lead actors: 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (that's WOOST-hey-zen, for all non-diehard golf fans out there) and Bubba, whose swashbuckling manner and high-risk, high-reward game have made him a fan and player favorite on the PGA Tour. Even without Tiger or Rory McIlroy in contention, there were no shortage of compelling characters on Sunday.

Memorable moments You knew it would be a final round to remember when Oosthuizen's second shot at the par-5 second hole bounced on the front left of the green, rolled up and over a ridge, began tracking towards the hole 20 feet away, and finally dropped in as the crowd went ballistic.

That's right: a double eagle, known as an albatross because it's by far the rarest of golf scores. It was only the fourth double eagle in the Masters' 78-year history and it propelled the young South African into the lead.

The albatross was hardly the only spectacular shot of the day. Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott each had a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th. Kuchar hit a perfect approach shot with a five-wood to three feet at the par-5 15th, setting up an eagle that briefly got him into a tie for the lead. And of course, there was Bubba's unreal iron shot on the second playoff hole (more on that later).

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Jake Simpson is a New York-based writer.

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