Robert Tyre Jones Jr. created the ultimate tribute to the game of golf when he designed Augusta National. The blooming azaleas and the stately pine trees have long been admired by golf fans the world over.
As the sports world flocks to Augusta during the first week of April, the beauty of the course reminds everyone that Georgia in spring is aesthetically pleasing as anywhere in the world.
Phil Mickelson found himself in a familiar place; playing in the final pairing Sunday afternoon. But it was the group before that stole the show.
On the second hole of sudden death at the 10th hole — “Camelia” — former UGA golfer Bubba Watson was locked in battle for the green jacket with Louis Oostenhozien.
Oostenhozien, who was once a roommate with last year’s winner Charl Schwarzel, is the latest star of the Gary Player-influenced Sunshine Tour.
Watson, who is one of the longest drivers on the tour, represents the new group of young lions that has taken the PGA Tour by storm after the omnipresent Tiger Woods dethroned himself with personal problems.
His real name is Gerry, but the fitting nickname Bubba makes him sound like he could come right out of a Lewis Grizzard story. Bubba does own the original General Lee that was seen in the opening credits of the Southern cult “Dukes of Hazzard.”
Watson’s tee shot went into the woods along with Oostenhozien. Hitting off the pine straw, Watson made a shot that will be remembered forever by those who were there.
For Georgia fans, that shot and the ball touching down on the green was received in the same manner as when Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott for the win against Florida in 1980.
Oostenheizon was short on his second shot, forcing a chip, followed by a missed putt. Thinking they were in Sanford Stadium and not Augusta, the many Dawgs in the crowd showed ferocious support for their Bubba, as if Oostenhozien was a Gator, not a South African.
When Bubba tapped in for par the crowd went crazy. Dawg barks coming from all over the crowd.
And the story gets even better. Watson recently has become a father, as he and his wife, a former UGA Lady Bulldog basketball player, adopted a son.
As former UGA end and Masters chairman Billy Payne presented him the green jacket, a teary eyed Watson told CBS Sports Jim Nantz, “In my dreams, I’ve never got to this point.”
It was a wonderful day for Georgians and anyone who has the heart and attitude to dream big. If you really believe dreams do come true.