Refreshing Watson adds new essence at Augusta

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Tom Sorensen
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
— The man begins to cry seconds after winning the 2012 Masters. He loves the color pink. He chooses his clothes so carefully that the white watchband on his white watch matches his white and pink visor, white and pink pants and white and pink shirt.

And he convinced the company whose equipment he uses to make a pink driver especially for him.

Bubba Watson is going to give Bubbas a bad name.

“We always joked about Bubba golf,” says Bubba. “My caddie has always called it Bubba golf. We always say it walking down fairways. I just play the game, the game that I love.”

Bubba’s victory, on the second playoff hole Sunday evening, was joyous to behold. He hit a hook shot that was Mickelsonesque, an iron from the pine straw that hooked majestically out of the woods, into the air and onto the 10th green.

The last hook I saw this effective was thrown by the late Joe Frazier.

Bubba has never taken a golf lesson. He drives the ball more than 350 yards. If he played baseball he would bat fourth and the backs of the outfielders would rub against the wall.

Bubba, 33, was born Gerry. But the name with which we’re born is merely our starter name. The name we earn is the name we keep.

Jim Nantz of CBS—hello, friends—has a special voice he uses when he wants to emphasize the dignity and drama of a tradition like no other. Then he says, “Bubba.”

How many Bubbas play on the PGA Tour? How many have? Only one I could find is Bubba Dickerson, who is now on the Nationwide Tour, which is Bubba Watson’s old turf. Dickerson is from Florida, which is Watson’s other old (and often current) turf. Bubba Watson is from Bagdad, in the Panhandle.

Bubba Watson lives in many places, and one of them is High Rock Lake near Lexington, the barbeque capital of North Carolina.

Bubba played at Georgia. Augusta National Golf Club is in Georgia. Hazzard County, “Dukes of Hazzard” turf in the 1980s’ TV show, is in Georgia.

Bubba bought General Lee, the famous car from famous 1980s TV show, and wanted to drive it as pace car before the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix. Because the car bears the Confederate flag on the roof, NASCAR said no.

Bubba and his wife, Angie, adopted a one-month old son, Caleb. She’s back in Florida at a home they rent and Caleb can’t leave the state because the adoption is not yet finalized. Bubba says he couldn’t talk to Angie on Sunday because “cell phones are not allowed” at Augusta National.

But, yes, he talked to her.

“That’s off camera right?” he asks.

When he’s home, Bubba fools around on the putting green that came with the house they rent, hangs with his buddies and plays video games. He doesn’t know how to change a diaper, and says he hopes his Masters victory buys him a week without being asked to.

Golf can be pretentious, as you might have heard. So can country clubs. Some appear to have dress codes even for cars. Gosh, there are even facets of the Masters that are pretentious.

Bubba is not pretentious. Bubba is a regular guy who happened to win one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world.

Like Tiger and Phil, he has attained one-name status. No offense to Dickerson, the Nationwide Tour guy, but when you say Bubba everybody will know who you mean.

I predict Bubba becomes popular not only in the United States but, because of international interest in the Masters, around the world. Sunday’s final leader board includes players from South Africa, England, Sweden, Australia and Ireland. Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa finished second. Bubba Oosthuizen is lyrical and perhaps poetry.

Bubba, you see, is more than a name. Bubba is a lifestyle. Bubba means you take your craft seriously—but not yourself. It means you grip the club and rip the ball and dare to take amazing shots regardless of the consequences. It means you play a game for a living and enjoy the heck out of it.

And if you swing a pink driver, that’s OK, too.

Last updated: 8:11 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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