By Larry Fine
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Jonas Blixt fell short of his goal of becoming Sweden's first male winner of a major championship but showed again his ability to thrive at golf's biggest events by tying for second at the Masters.
Blessed with extraordinary touch with his chipping and putting, the 29-year-old Blixt shot a final-round 71 for his fourth successive sub-par round at Augusta to join Jordan Spieth on five-under 283, three behind winner Bubba Watson.
"It was a great day," said Blixt, a twice PGA Tour winner based in Florida. "I played decently. Hit my driver a lot better, just didn't get my approaches as close as I wanted and didn't give myself enough opportunities to make birdies.
"Bubba Watson played better. I got beat and he deserves to win. I congratulate him for that. But I learned a lot today and have a lot more new experiences and can't wait to come back," he told reporters.
Blixt, who finished fourth at last year's U.S. PGA Championship in his second crack at a major, embraces the challenge of competing at golf's most difficult tests.
"I love majors. I love it when it's tough. It's not a shootout," he said. "So the harder the better.
"The atmosphere, there are so many people here, the excitement of being here, it just adds to the experience."
Blixt began the day one stroke behind overnight co-leaders Watson and Spieth and played his own steely, steady game despite final-round pressures and posted two birdies and one bogey on the vaunted Augusta layout with its lightning-fast greens.
After placing third in the field in putting statistics in needing just 110 putts and without a single three-putt, Blixt's only regret was failing to claim a golf major for Sweden.
"I would love to be the first one. I would love to win a major," he said. "That's one of my lifelong dreams.
"I hope that curse kind of ends soon."
Another goal for Blixt is to make the European Ryder Cup team but since he plays on the U.S. Tour he would have to be one of captain Paul McGinley's wildcard selections.
"That would be a lifelong dream to appear on one of those teams," said Blixt. "I'm going to do everything I can, absolutely everything, to be on that team.
"But it's up to Paul McGinley to make the decisions on that.
I'm going to try to play as good as I can so he doesn't have a choice but to pick me."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)