Bubba Watson swings for the fences

  • Article by: JIM LITKE , Associated Press
  • Updated: April 9, 2012 - 9:15 PM

No one hits it farther, or farther off fairway than new Masters champ


Bubba Watson

Photo: Charlie Riedel, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

AUGUSTA, Ga. - His dad was hoping for a baseball player. The baby boy who popped out was football-sized instead, so chubby and pink that Gerry Watson needed all of 10 seconds to nickname his newborn son "Bubba." Instead of crashing into running backs, he grew up to overpower one of the most iconic golf courses in the game.

The newest Masters champion isn't much for subtlety. Bubba Watson has never taken a lesson or watched his quirky southpaw swing on video, and he can barely putt. Watson arrived ranked 152nd out of 185 players on the PGA Tour and not surprising, he finished tied for 37th in that department here, needing 10 more strokes on Augusta National's slick, contoured greens than Louis Oosthuizen, the guy he beat in a playoff.

But nobody anywhere hits it farther. Or so relishes the adventures that begin every time he hunts down one of those wayward drives in the trees — which is often.

Watson hadn't even reached his tee shot deep in the woods on the right of the second playoff hole when he began charting a course toward the 10th green. He saw the crowd already outlining a tunnel back to the fairway, and a TV tower in the distance he figured would be directly between his ball and the flag. He was right.

"We had 135 front, which is the only number I was looking at. I think we had like 164 (yards to the) hole, give or take, in that area, maybe a little less," Watson recalled in the interview room afterward. "And I hit 52 degree, my gap wedge, hooked it about 40 yards, hit about 15 feet off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising."

He looked out at the blank stares on the faces of the reporters in front of him.

"Pretty easy," Watson said a moment later to laughter.

"Even though the tower was in my way, I didn't want to ask if I get relief or anything, because it just set up for a perfect draw," he added, "Well, a hook."

Like the back nine that preceded the two-putt par that won it, just about everything else was a blur.

"I know I made bogey on 12 and then I birdied four holes in a row. Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head and somehow I'm here talking to you," he said, "with a green jacket on."

Watson began sobbing even as he pulled his ball out of the cup, then hugged his caddie, Ted Scott, before falling into mother Molly's arms. The father Watson was named after died two years ago. His own newborn son, Caleb, adopted barely two weeks ago, and wife Angie were back home. He couldn't wait to get there, save for one thing.

"I don't want to change a diaper. Hopefully this will give me a week or two," Watson said, then quickly added, "Maybe not, though."

What he vowed to never change was his go-for-broke playing style, which his pals — among them former Milton (Fla.) High School teammates and current PGA pros Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum — have dubbed "Bubba golf." That's shorthand for hitting his azalea-pink driver as hard as he can, finding the ball, and then hitting it under, over or around all the obstacles that get in his way. He hits more greens in regulation than you'd think, mostly because the 6-foot-3 Watson needs a club or two less than his rivals to get where he's going.

"Truthfully," he explained, "it's like Seve (Ballesteros) played. He hit shots that were unbelievable.

"And if you watch Phil Mickelson, he goes for broke. That's why he wins so many times. That's why he's not afraid. So for me, that's what I do. I just play golf. I attack. I always attack. I don't like to go to the center of the greens. I want to hit the incredible shot. Who doesn't?"

He had a front-row seat for one of the most amazing shots the Masters has ever seen, a 253-yard 4-iron by Oosthuizen, his playing partner throughout the day, that landed on the front of the par-5 second hole and rolled 80 feet before curling into the cup for a double-eagle. It was all Watson could do to keep himself from racing across the green to give the South African a high-five.

"Then I saw the leaderboard on the next hole," he said, "and I thought, that double-eagle, he's leading now."

Being Bubba, it didn't change a thing Watson did. He kept bombing away, firing at the pins from every crazy angle, just like he did in a losing playoff effort against Martin Kaymer in the 2010 PGA Championship.

"I mean, I can hit it straight. It's just it's easier to see curves, get the ball working towards the hole," Watson said.

"I remember this good player, maybe great player, y'all, Jack Nicklaus. He said he wanted to aim at the center of the green and get the ball drifting towards the hole when he played Augusta. That's what he did here. That's the way I like to play all the golf courses, not just Augusta. ...

"So I can do it. It's just not something I really want to do. It's easier in the trees," Watson said, "like I did on the last playoff hole."

It's such an improbable recipe for success, that even though Watson finished up his college golf career at Georgia some 100 miles down the road, he couldn't quite picture himself wearing the green jacket that fit snugly on his shoulders.

"I dreamed about it," he said. "I just never made the putt."


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco 5 Top 7th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 1 3rd Prd 15:28
Chicago 0
Arizona 2 2nd Prd 6:05
Edmonton 2
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM





question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters