Home > Golf > Winning one for the good guys – Bubba Watson, Masters Champion

Winning one for the good guys – Bubba Watson, Masters Champion

 by Paul Johnson

”He is the natural.”

With those four words CBS Anchor Jim Nantz perfectly summed up 2012 US Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, after he hit one of the most remarkable recovery shots in US Masters history.

 

 

Have you ever tried to hook a wedge 40 yards? It’s nigh on impossible and Watson along with one other guy on tour… Phil Mickelson (you may have heard of him) are about the only players capable of doing it on a consistent basis… more on that later.

Watson though is a different story, he frequently tries and produces the impossible and that wedge from the pine straw on the second playoff hole (the tenth) was just that.

He was first off the tee, pulled driver. Commentator and golf legend, Nick Faldo warned he’d have to slice it or face the forest. Boom goes Bubba, the ball goes into the right hand woods. Trouble.

Thinking he is safe 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen hits a gentle three wood into the fairway, but then comes up short of the green after thinning a four iron.

Enter Bubba, the thought is he too should just lay it up, but not this master of the magnificent. No way; he contorts his stance and twists his hands right over the grip producing a high hooking ball that ends within metres of the flag.

The crowd goes ballistic. “Bubba, Bubba,” chants the usually stoic group of Augusta patrons.

Then comes the real story, two putts for the win – and as if to make sure, he plumb bobs on the six-incher, perhaps a flashback to seeing Lee Westwood miss one yesterday… Is this really happening?

Then as it drops and he goes to fish the ball out of the cup, emotion engulfs Augusta National in one of those special sporting moments you feel privileged to see.

Bubba Watson is visibly crying as he fishes the ball out of the cup and everyone there and watching around the world knows who he is thinking of… his late father, Gerry.

His mother Molly rushes to his side, engulfs her son as Bubba’s caddy steps away.

Mother and son embrace, the emotion and drama is real as suddenly the boy from Bagdad, Florida who has never had a golf lesson in his life has won at the place anyone who has ever struck a ball dreams of just playing at.

The tears flow as he thinks of Gerry, Watson lost him just two years ago after he lost a battle with throat cancer. This win won’t ease the pain of that loss, but it means Watson gave back to the man who first gave him a nine-iron “to blast down the fairway” as a child.

It likely won’t erase the pain of losing the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits to Martin Kaymer in a playoff both (the only playoff Watson has ever lost, and ironically three of his four PGA Tour victories have come in playoffs).

Watson had dedicated himself to winning that PGA championship for his dad, who was then battling cancer, but now he has vindication.

After the victory it was into the famed Butler Cabin where Nantz asked a still moved Watson, what it would be like to celebrate the triumph with his infant son Caleb, tears were fought back again. But he answered and he did so with emotion.

“I never got this far in my dreams,” Watson said in Butler Cabin, where defending champion Charl Schwartzel helped him into the Green Jacket. “It’s a blessing. To go home to my new son, it’s going to be fun.”

Even when 2011 champ Charl Schwartzel presented him with the Green Jacket, the emotion kept coming.

Schwartzel despite being best friends with the vanquished Oosthuizen couldn’t help but smile – cue Bubba “Now I look like you”.

In reality what Bubba looks like is the champion he is.

For all the comparisons with Mickelson, they are different. They could be the two most imaginative golfers of all time, fearing nothing, going for everything, ramming putts at the hole, hitting flop shots and frequently defying belief and physics with their array of trick shots.

They have also had someone dear to them battle cancer. Phil’s wife Amy won her battle, Bubba’s father lost his.

The similarities stop there, Mickelson as loved as he is, had every advantage, even had a giant putting green to practice on as a kid. Bubba had himself, his own ability and he backed it to the hilt.

He plays on emotion, just watch him. He believes he can do everything and most importantly in an era when golf needs it he is accessible and genial.

He’s funny even when things are serious and he’s not ashamed or embarrassed to show his human side and after ten plus years of Tiger Woods dominating the sport, maybe that’s what golf needs… a little bit of humanity rather than the robotic motions of well Woods.

You can cheer for both of them on the links, I have cheered for both, watched both play from close range and afar, but when you’re cheering for Bubba, to use an American parlance you’re really ‘rooting for him’.

When you cheer for Tiger, you’re caught up in the hoopla of watching one of the all-time greats.

With Bubba on top, things are different, they’re more open, less mechanical and above all they’re fun. And real – just go back and watch the embraces from his mother, caddy and fellow pros Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley.

His popularity comes from this attitude.

“I don’t play the sport for fame. I don’t try to win tournaments for fame,” Watson said.

“I don’t do any of that. It’s just me. I’m just Bubba. I goof around. I joke around. I just want to be me and play golf.”

That he does, Bubba Watson’s win is one of the biggest ‘yes you can do it, you can dream big’ moments sport has seen in a while, I for one seriously hope there are more to come.

Remember the guy who hit the above shot is the guy who helped make this for charity:

 

 

 “Tweet, tweet I want my birdies all day long, let the bogeys go.”

Go make those birdies Bubba, because we enjoy watching them.

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