Watson's win at Masters is good for golf
Bubba Watson, a former Georgia Bulldog and new Masters champion, did not treat the patrons at Augusta National to his trademark response, a tagline he uses in all his Twitter videos. But the sentiment was certainly there.
You're welcome for some of the most dramatic shots in Masters history.
You're welcome for a golf swing invented in the backyard in Bagdad, Fla. where he learned to curve whiffle balls around trees, cars, and ditches, a swing that looks like a combination of a hammer throw and a wood chopping exercise, but one that produces the longest drives on tour.
You're welcome for the lovable ramblings, the honesty, the tears, and the musings that are as exciting and unpredictable as a ride down a country road in the General Lee, that Dodge Charger from the original "Dukes of Hazzard" show that Bubba bought a few months ago.
And you're welcome for being the only guy in on the range who doesn't have a coach, and has never had a lesson -- and for being the anti-Tiger, ever approachable, never pretentious.
You're welcome for the four birdies in a row on the back nine, and the miraculous snap-hook iron off the pine straw and around the magnolia on the second playoff hole, the shot the sealed the victory and immediately became the shot of the year list, especially since Louis Oosthuizen failed to capitalize after his 235-yard 4-iron went in for double-eagle on the second.
"It looked like a curve ball," Oosthuizen said of the shot Bubba hit from the right trees on the downhill 10th, the second playoff hole. "It was really an unbelievable shot."
Watson's ball spun up the slope on the 10th green after it hit, leaving him a 12-foot putt for birdie, which he didn't need after Oosthuizen failed to make par. A routine tap-in and Watson finally reached the potential that his talent had always demanded.
As for his own shot, the 4-iron that flew 211 yards onto the front of the second green before trundling over the humps and mounds of the second green until it found the cup, Oosthuizen spoke of the first double-eagle ever on that hole as it were a curse.
"It was tough after that double-eagle," he said. "When something like that happens early in your round you think, 'this is it.' So it was tough the next five holes. It was my first double-eagle, so it was tough to get your head around it and just play the course."
Watson didn't appear rattled by the double-eagle -- in fact he got up and down for birdie after a long bunker shot immediately after Oosthuizen got his ball out of the hole. But that is Bubba's style, exciting and excitable, but unfazed by his surroundings. This is a guy, after all, who called the Palace of Versailles "that castle near my hotel," during the French Open, and who posted a Twitter video of himself running around his house in an orange jump suit.
Earlier in the week, Brandel Chamblee, arguably the most insightful golf commentator on television, said, "The genius of Tiger Woods has been coached out of him." Nobody could ever say that about Bubba, a man who admits to "probably" having ADHD, but has never been tested and won't consider taking any drugs.
But it took a genius to hit that shot in the playoff. As Watson's caddy said to him as they were walking toward the trees where his tee shot landed, "If you've got a swing, you've got a shot."
"It was a crazy shot," Bubba said. "It was a perfect draw -- well, a hook -- that I saw in my head, and that's what I hit. It just goes to show that anything can happen here."
Indeed it can. Amid cheers of "Go 'Dawgs," and "Get 'em Bubba," Watson had six birdies and two bogeys, hitting shots that curved left and right, high and low, imagining and executing like a golf savant, with "his head down," and no real idea how or why he was able to do it.
"I pretty much just make it up as I go along," he said.
Nothing choreographed, nothing calculated, no entourage or image consultants: just a mop of hair falling down over his tear-filled eyes, a wife and newly adopted son at home, and his Bible-study brothers, Ben Crane and Rickie Fowler, out on the green to hug him after the win.
And now Watson has a green jacket and almost certainly another spot on the Ryder Cup team, one of the things he cherishes most.
"Representing your country, putting on the red, white and blue and playing for the flag, that means everything," he said.
Watson still can't quite get his head around it. But Bubba isn't prone to introspection. As he was sitting in one of the hard-backed chairs on the putting green during the green jacket ceremony as Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne introduced everybody from the Paraguayan Golf Association to the locker room staff, the newest Masters champion saw a helicopter fly by in the distance.
"I know Charl (Schwartzel) is a helicopter pilot," Bubba said. "So I was thinking about asking him what kind of helicopter that was. That's what was going through my mind."
No one could possibly coach the genius out of him. How could you? He's just making it up as he goes along.