Eubanks: Masters champ Watson one of a kind

Masters, Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson, winner of the 2012 Masters, may be quirky and frenetic, but there's no denying he's genuine.
By
Steve Eubanks
PGA.com

Series: Eubanks

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 1:18 p.m.

Bubba Watson cries.

That comes as no grand revelation to those who have spent any time around the defending Masters champion. Bubba is a frenetic, emotional creature with the attention span of a toddler who just ate a bag of candy. But there is never any question about what he thinks, where he stands or what he is feeling. This is a guy who cries during the National Anthem at baseball games, someone who can barely get through a dinner-table prayer without his voice cracking; a man who cannot speak of his late father in complete sentences without breaking down, and who has wept in the arms of family members after each of his four wins.

He is also the person who made Dufnering a thing by posting the first picture of himself in the comatose pose propped up against his famous Dodge Challenger, the General Lee. And he posts videos of himself doing everything from trolling his house in a Santa Claus suit to driving a hovercraft golf cart over a pond and onto a green. He smashes produce with a golf club on late-night television and will video-bomb a reporter during a live broadcast.

On the flip side, Bubba also went verbally ballistic on Steve Elkington after Elk supposedly moved during his backswing, and he is someone who mumbles insults loud enough to be heard three rows deep in the gallery during his rounds.

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He is awkward, often inappropriate, certainly the most easily diagnosed ADHD candidate to have never seen a doctor, and the most creative, talent-rich player on tour today. But he is something else as well, something that makes him almost irresistible: he is genuine.

This is not a player who feels the need to dye his spiked hair or wear neon clothing to get attention. With his solid white shirt buttoned to his neck and trousers that look like they came from the “uncool” rack at Macy’s, Bubba walks out of the clubhouse looking as vanilla as anyone in golf.

He feels no need to feign sophistication as evidenced by the menu at the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night in Augusta -- a grilled chicken, green bean and macaroni and cheese plate that could have easily come from the value menu at KFC.

The savant doesn’t show up until the clubs come out. That is when he does things that no one in the history of the game ever dreamed possible.

On the range this week, Bubba had done what he always does, going through his entire bag without hitting the same shot twice. He hits low cuts, high hooks, high slices, and mid-range knock-down draws: never once attempting anything conventional and never feeling the need to hit a shot more than once.

That same mindset carries over into competition where Bubba hits shots no one else even sees: like the 370-yard driver off the fairway at Kapalua that sliced 100 yards into the middle of the green, or the drive he hit during the Tavistock Cup that started over Lake Isleworth and sliced 70 yards into the center of the fairway, or the most famous rope-hook gap wedge in history from the pine straw at Augusta National, a shot that still has the people shaking their head in awe from a spot that has become a tourist attraction at Augusta National.

“Sunday when me and my wife were playing, we were coming down off of 18 tee, there as a group of guys over there,” Bubba said in his press conference on Tuesday. “I yelled at them and I said, 'No, that’s not the spot, it’s a little over.' Turns out it was Billy Casper and his son.”

He would love to see a plaque on the ground there -- “Wouldn’t you?” he asked rhetorically -- but he was quick to point out that he would never presume to ask Augusta National to put one there.

Bubba harbors a genuine and heartfelt love for the traditions of Augusta, even if he sometimes doesn’t know quite how to show it. So, he cries.

When asked if he had done anything interesting in his green jacket, his face tightened and the tears streamed down his face before he finally composed himself enough to admit that he had wrapped his then newly-adopted son Caleb in it.

Caleb will be a part of the festivities on Wednesday as well, making an appearance during the par-three contest when children and grandchildren are as much a part of the action as the players.

But don’t expect any shenanigans from Bubba -- no disrobing or jumping in the water or use of his standard tag-line, “You’re welcome.”

“I have too much respect for Augusta National,” he said. He didn’t cry after that line, but no one doubted his sincerity in the least.