AUGUSTA, GA. - Bubba Watson knows what you’re thinking. He can be an authentic and genuine jerk.
Aloof, artificial, the silly pink driver, the Whole Bubba World Act. It’s a thin soup after a while. His take?
“I take it as I need to improve as a man,” he said.
As he prepares to defend his second Masters championship — he can become the only player besides Jack Nicklaus to win three in four years — Watson on Tuesday found himself rationalizing how an ESPN poll of 103 anonymous PGA Tour peers found him to be among the least popular players. And he did not object to their findings.
“I need to get better. And I think over my career, since my rookie season to now, I’ve gotten better,” he said.
“But obviously, there’s more room for me to improve as a man. And so hopefully next year or the year after, it improves.
“It’s a challenge. It’s great. I’m glad that it came out, and it’s going to help me improve. So if it’s a bad thing, and people don’t like me, then I’ve got to improve and prove them wrong.”
And regarding the poll question about the fight in the parking lot? That Watson would be the least likely guy a fellow player would jump in help out? He said he voted for Watson, too.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t help myself out either,” he said, guessing he had it coming to him.
Watson has 1.3 million Twitter followers. His galleries are among the most passionate on the Tour. It is an odd station in life when your business is booming and your co-workers stop talking when you enter the room.
“I’m not going to call out anybody,” he said. “There’s nobody I dislike on the Tour. I dislike them if they beat me, but I don’t dislike them as a person.”
He said fatherhood — he and his wife, Angie, have two small adopted children: Caleb and Dakota — has had a softening impact on his personality. He no is longer the renegade who quit the Georgia team. Watson is 36. He’s won $27 million.
Only eight players have won the Masters three times or more: Nicklaus (6), Arnold Palmer (4), Tiger Woods (4), Jimmy Demaret (3), Sam Snead (3), Gary Player (3), Nick Faldo (3) and Phil Mickelson (3).
Watson can join both groups this weekend. Asked about the flip side to the ESPN poll and how he remains one of the most watchable players, he considered the boomerang drive, the pink club head and how this all has come to pass.
“Because,” he said, “I’m nuts.”