Monday, January 31, 2011
Bubba Watson; Impossible to Hate
Before last season's Travelers Championship, Bubba Watson was a fun character on the PGA Tour to follow. He was left-handed, hit the ball a mile, and kinda plodded around the course with his goofy walk and his pink-shafted driver. He seemed like the type of guy you could root for, and his continuous YouTube videos sure helped.
But he wasn't a winner. He could never break through, and it was started to pose the question, "Is Bubba good enough to be a winner on the PGA Tour?"
He answered that at the Travelers with a win over Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in a playoff, not exactly the most intimidating names in golf, but good enough to land in the winner's circle. Then came the PGA Championship, where Bubba nearly added "major championship winner" to his resume, eventually losing to Martin Kaymer in a playoff. In just a matter of months, Bubba had completely changed the thoughts on him.
A year ago, Bubba asked me to play 18 holes with him in a charity golf scramble, and I remember not being that impressed with his length or drives (I've seen guys hit the ball far before), but more with his touch around the greens and how every putt he hit seemed to be headed for the cup, even if it didn't go in (I distinctly remember Bubba drawing a line on his ball to help his alignment, and how with every putt, the line was rolling right down the line, picture-perfect for a putting stroke).
Sunday, at Torrey Pines, Bubba moved to another level. He won over names, and he made two clutch putts on 17 and 18 that secured his win over one of the most popular names in golf history.
He did it not with a goofy look on his face but with determination; Watson wasn't that slouched guy anymore, he was a golfer that is now a two-time winner, a Ryder Cupper, and a near major champion. He knew who was chasing him on Sunday, but he held his composure, hit a great bunker shot on the final hole, and then sank the birdie putt dead center. This was a day after Bubba made eagle on the same hole to get himself in the conversation, and then eventually win.
He's just a fun guy to root for. My uncle sent me a text on Monday that basically sums it up - "If you don't like Bubba you're just not trying."
You know what's even scarier? Bubba hits it long, he hits a cut, and the first major of the year calls for just that. Augusta National might be right up his alley.