If I have a swing, I have a shot,
he said the night of April 8, repeating his Bubba Golf mantra.
You might view him as a bit out there
(with Hunter Mahan, Crane and
Fowler) for being part of the Golf
Boys that came up with the “Oh, Oh,
Oh” charity music video last year.
And, oh, oh, oh, he stands on the
wrong side of the ball, a lefty.
He’s one of the loudest players as well, the smash of driver contact- ing ball akin to splitting the atom.
Through the first three months of
2012, he was the longest driver on
Tour with an average of 316 yards,
with a longest launch of 427.
That Watson has achieved what he
has on Tour without an entourage
of swing and putting counselors is
something that this 6-foot 3-inch,
180-pound coiled spring of a man is
particularly proud of.
“I like the challenge,” Watson
said at the Cadillac Championship
in March, a tournament he nearly
won. “I like playing and learning it
myself. I’m stubborn. Why would I
want to say thanks to somebody else?
I want to do it on my own. I want to
play better for me and I want to win
because of me and I want to play
good because of me. And no, I’ve
never [sought] out advice of a coach
or anything on my swing. I just swing
funny and somehow it works.”
His swing had its roots in the
backyard of his boyhood home
in Bagdad, Fla., where with the
encouragement of his late father
Gerry (Bubba is Gerry Jr.) he sliced
and hooked and smashed around
Wiffle balls. Purely through his own
endeavor he became good enough to
play golf at the University of Georgia,
good enough to qualify for the
Nationwide Tour, and good enough
to leap from there to the PGA Tour
in 2005. Since then he has grown his
own game, and a legend.
You’ve got to like a lefthander
whose backswing is John Daly and
whose point-of-impact is Mikhail
Baryshnikov. Watson takes the club
back so far that you think he’s go-
ing to bounce it off his right hip. At
impact, both heels are off the ground
and he’s standing on his toes, occa-
sionally levitating on a really big hit.
Watson curves the ball like no one
else on Tour, leading Tiger Woods
to say, “I can’t even see some of the
shots he hits.”
While Watson will say that he’d love
to be No. 1 in the world, there is so
much more he wants to do. “I have a
friend who wants to build a church in
North Carolina, so if I win [the FedEx
Cup and the $10 million first prize] I’d
want to be a part of helping him. The
people who know me know I’d rather
give it away than have it myself.”
Watson is substantially involved in
charitable work, having funded the
$50,000 playground at the Ronald
McDonald House in Pensacola, Fla.,
running junior golf programs, and
using his pink driver for charitable
purposes. The “Bubba and Friends
Drive to a Million” initiative announced by Watson and PING will
donate $300 for his first 300 drives
over 300 yards in 2012, and begins
the way toward raising $1 million
for Scottsdale-based charities where
Watson now calls home. Watson was
so concerned about giving the right
message to children about getting
an education that he returned to
the University of Georgia to get his
degree in consumer economics.
Now as the Masters champion, there is an inevitable ramping up of his life, something he wants to
keep in perspective. “I don’t play the
sport for fame,” he said right after his
Masters victory. “I don’t try to win
tournaments for fame. I don’t do any
of that. It’s just me. I’m just Bubba.
I goof around. I joke around. I just
want to play golf and be me. I’m not
ready for fame.”
Ready or not, fame is upon him...
let’s just hope fame likes the color