Souhan: 'Bubba Golf' defies conventional strategy at Masters

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 14, 2014 - 6:47 AM

– Bubba Watson held a three-shot lead when he sliced his drive behind the trees protecting the left side of the 15th fairway at Augusta National. Play it safe, and he’d become the second player ever to win the Masters twice in his first six tries.

Most players would have chipped to the fairway. Watson grabbed a 6-iron, punched a shot through the branches, knocked it 200 yards and over the back of the green, inviting but avoiding disaster. On the CBS broadcast, golfing wit David Feherty gasped and said, quite serious for once, “He’s lost his marbles.”

After Watson cruised to a three-shot victory Sunday, Watson’s caddie, Ted Scott, was asked to explain his boss’ gambling style.

“That’s Bubba golf,” he said.

Bubba Golf.

It’s a brand. It’s a style. It’s an emotion. It’s evocative of a boyhood in a small, southern town. And it’s dangerously close to becoming as synonymous with the Masters as blooming azaleas, pimiento cheese sandwiches, ceremonial tee shots and green jackets.

Before Watson won Sunday, only Arnold Palmer had won two Masters in six tries. The victory made Watson one of only nine players ever to win two Masters in three years. He became the 17th player ever to win multiple Masters. The rest of them are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Most majors require straight driving and damage control. Watson, born in Bagdad, Fla., to a working-class family, is geographically and spiritually wedded to Augusta National, the rare major site that rewards mammoth and sometimes ill-directed drives.

Sunday, Watson clipped trees with his drives on the third and 13th holes, and hit behind trees on 15 and 17, yet made only two bogeys while shooting 69. He was the only player on the morning leaderboard to shoot in the 60s.

On the par-5 13th, he hit a high, massive slice that knocked down a few leaves — and landed 366 yards away. He hit a 56-degree sand wedge 140 yards to the green.

Augusta National planted trees to “Tiger-proof’’ the course after Tiger Woods obliterated it. The club would have to borrow a few thousand redwoods to keep the hillbilly head cover on Watson’s driver.

“It’s overwhelming,’’ Watson said. “A small-town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets. It’s pretty cool.”

He started and ended the week embracing kids on golf courses. The previous Sunday, Watson showed up for Augusta National’s first Drive, Chip and Putt contest for junior golfers. Right after donning his second green jacket on Sunday, Watson thanked Augusta National for rewarding young golfers.

A week after he shook the hand of each entrant in the Drive, Chip and Putt contest, Watson walked off the 18th green and picked up his son, Caleb. He and his wife, Angie, adopted Caleb shortly before the 2013 Masters. Watson said the emotions of that adoption, combined with being flustered by the duties of a defending champion, kept him from playing competitively in the 2013 Masters and for much of the season.

This winter, stung by his failures, he rededicated himself, even if dedication means something different to Watson than many athletes. He began cutting 30 minutes here, an hour there, to practice, even on days he had dedicated to Caleb.

So on Sunday when Watson went on his inevitable post-win crying jag, he was holding Caleb and embracing Angie. “Yeah, I’m going to cry,’’ he said. “Because, why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida? Why is he winning? That’s why I’m always going to cry. I’ll probably cry again tonight sometime, just thinking about it.”

There were probably others crying in Augusta on Sunday night — the Augusta National employees who expect players to hit long irons into par-5s, and have to watch Watson hitting a wedge on his second shot to the 13th.

“He’s a freak show, man,’’ Scott said. “I mean, I can’t describe it any other way.’’

Bubba Golf means taking an unconventional swing, hitting the ball unimaginable distances, and a guy who has never taken a golf lesson joining the immortals who have won multiple green jackets.

Next time, Bubba might ask if they have something in an overall.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Masters leaderboard

    Thursday April 10, 2014

  • Final round at Masters is lacking down-to-the-wire drama

    Monday April 14, 2014

    With few challengers in Bubba Watson’s face, Sunday at Augusta drifted toward the mundane.

  • Video: Bubba Watson wins his second Masters

    Monday April 14, 2014

    Check out all the highlights from Bubba Watson's final round which culminated with him capturing his second Masters title.

  • Masters final round: a recap

    Sunday April 13, 2014

    Keep that cardMiguel Angel Jimenez, a 50-year-old Spaniard who makes himself obvious in many ways, not least with that brushy...

  • Photo gallery: Watson wins the Masters

    Sunday April 13, 2014

    Bubba Watson claimed another green jacket, winning the Masters by three shots over Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt.

  • Video: CBS Sports: 2014 Masters highlights

    Monday April 14, 2014

    Bubba Watson claimed his second Masters title in three years. Check out all the highlights from the 2014 Masters.

  • Video: CBS Sports: Spieth on coming up short

    Monday April 14, 2014

    Jordan Spieth briefly sat atop the leaderboard on Sunday at the Masters but he has unable to sustain it...

  • Bubba Watson donned the Masters green jacket for the second time in three years, and he didn’t achieve it by playing it safe.

  • Caddie Ted Scott marveled at Bubba Watson’s daring shot-making up close over Masters weekend, before sharing a victory hug with the second-time champion.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
ULM 58 FINAL
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
UAB 69 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
UMKC 57 FINAL
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UCLA 69
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
IUPUI 62 FINAL
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 59
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
BYU 68 FINAL
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close