The first of golf’s 2014 major championships is in the books. The recipient of a Masters victory receives “the green jacket”. The jacket comes with two sleeves. Bubba Watson now has two Masters wins to match those sleeves. Maybe the jacket fits a bit better now when he puts it on.
It wasn’t an exciting tournament but it had all the makings of self-destruction normally seen on the back nine of Augusta National. Watson tried to derail his hopes a bit when he hit a fantasy drive at 13 and a delusional second to 15 most leaders would have never considered. But Bubba isn’t like most who play this game.
Placing golf somewhere around fifth on his life list of priorities, the 2014 champion doesn’t really care what others think and he certainly isn’t going to take suggestions lightly. He is far and away his own man — on and off the golf course. Perhaps he’s not in the mold of a Hogan, Nicklaus, the other Watson or even Tiger but that’s OK. He’s happy with who he is, even if the viewing public would prefer to see someone a bit more conventional.
While most might say it was an easy win considering he had to beat a twenty year-old, a Swede and The Most Interesting Fifty Year-Old in Golf, it was far from it. The National was blessed with a perfect weather week allowing the course to play fast and firm as it challenged contestants on every aspect. There were marvelous plays (Kuchar @ 15 on Saturday), rookie mistakes (Spith’s dunk at 12 on Sunday) and bad bounces (McIlroy on 13 Friday), but in the end it came down to Watson managing his nerves around Amen Corner on Sunday afternoon. He kept any charges at bay, the only notable one coming Saturday with Jimenez’s 66. Young Spieth garnered some hope with his early flourish on Sunday, but his allotment of luck ran out on the eighth green. The fourth round was a tale of two nines and Bubba played the most important one better.
Now all of the writers and magazines will be spinning their predictions for Bubba’s future. On Sunday evening the Golf Channel already picked him as one of the favorites at Pinehurst. While that may have been an immediate thought on their minds, it had to be the furthest on Watson’s. Frankly I don’t know how he looks at his golfing future. Something tells me he’s pretty well set right now and if he wanted to, he could retire with his family and watch his son grow up. He has other priorities.
Each time a major roles around fans and media try to cast the champion into a category. Palmer was charismatic, Nicklaus dominant, Seve flamboyant, and Phil a family man. Now everyone is attempting to fit Bubba into one of professional golf’s molds. It’s tough to put a square peg in a round hole. I think it’s best to let Bubba be Bubba, admire his unique ability and accept the fact golf is slowly escaping the musty traditions and history of the past. Pink drivers, orange slacks, and knobby-looking boat shoes are now part of the PGA Tour. So to is a 30 yard slice. Go get ’em Bubba. You’ve hit the big time whether you know it or not.