Masters blaster on display
Long-hitting Watson an unconventional champ
The country boy with a country nickname is fixin’ to turn the conservative, conventional sport he’s chosen as his profession upside down.
Are y’all ready for some Bubba Golf?
He’s never had a lesson, can’t hit the ball straight, plays video games, makes music clips that go viral on YouTube, says he has attention deficit disorder but has never been diagnosed, is working on a temper problem, and likes the “Dukes of Hazzard’’ so much he recently bought an orange General Lee car. Oh yeah, he also owns golf’s greatest green garment after winning the Masters on Sunday in a sudden-death playoff.
Bubba Watson does things his way, makes sure there’s fun involved, and brings to mind another long-hitting, fun-hogging major champion, John Daly. Watson’s fun to watch, with a homegrown swing, pink driver (Ping is making the Bubba model available soon; smart move) and the ability to hit shots few even consider.
Golf has almost always been about convention, by and large. Players dress the same and swing the same and sound the same, different eras bringing equipment changes and fashion trends and swing thoughts.
Watson, it seems, follows none of those rules. Respectful of the game, he’s opinionated and often unfiltered, which has landed him in trouble at times, and rubbed some the wrong way.
He’s a new-age major champion, sharing his world on Twitter and ready to see and be seen. Since Sunday he’s popped into the Golf Channel studios in Orlando, chatted on CNN with Piers Morgan, and traded jokes with David Letterman. Right now, it’s good to be Bubba.
Whether he’ll continue to be good for golf remains to be seen. We expect more from major champions: More wins, more majors, more magic. He’ll enjoy his 12 months as Masters champion, no doubt. There’s a champion’s dinner menu to set (barbecue the early favorite), and probably a formal request to drive the General Lee down Magnolia Lane.
What’s the speed limit there, anyway?
A major flaw
Sergio Garcia has been called many things since turning professional in 1999, equal parts good and bad: great ball striker, suspect putter, fiery Ryder Cup star, petulant excuse maker, spitter, quitter, best player without a major.
Well, if Garcia is to be believed, he’ll never win one.
Speaking to the Spanish-language press after shooting himself out of the Masters with a third-round 75, Garcia’s self-deprecating comments raised plenty of eyebrows.
“I’m not good enough . . . I don’t have the thing I need to have,’’ Garcia said in remarks that were translated to English. “In 13 years I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.’’
When asked if he meant the Masters, Garcia said, “In any major.’’
The next day, after a final-round 71 left him tied for 12th, Garcia was asked about his comments from a day earlier, and if he really believed he isn’t capable of winning a major.
“Do you think I lie when I talk?’’ Garcia said.
No, was the reporter’s reply. But was it just emotion talking after a bad day?
“Everything I say, I say it because I feel it. If I didn’t mean it, I couldn’t stand here and lie like a lot of the guys do. If I felt like I could win, I would do it,’’ Garcia said. “Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky in one of the weeks, I can’t really play much better than I played this week and I’m going to finish 13th or 15th.’’
Asked what is missing, Garcia ended the interview with one word: “Everything.’’
There are dozens of players - some as talented as Garcia, some not - convinced they’re good enough to win majors. Keegan Bradley comes to mind, and look what he’s accomplished. Unless Garcia has an attitude adjustment (doubtful), or plays the best golf of his life for one week and wins a major without getting in his own way (also doubtful), he’ll have plenty of time to ponder exactly what it was that he was lacking.
Virginia Rometty was spotted at Augusta National over the weekend, but chose not to respond - literally not saying a word - when approached by reporters. IBM’s new CEO might have some relevant thoughts about the club’s all-male membership - she’s in the middle of the debate, given her title and the fact her four predecessors (all men) were given club memberships - but if she does she’s keeping those private, letting everyone else weigh in.
I have something in common with 99.999 percent of the golfing public: I’ll never become a member at Augusta National, so whether the club ever admits a female has no direct impact on me whatsoever. Nor do I feel the club should be forced to admit a woman. If we’ve learned anything since the club opened in 1933, it’s that the members don’t take kindly to being told what to do. They’ll do what they want, completely on their terms.
Enough people who probably know feel that there will be a female member at Augusta National some day. Or members, since it makes sense to bring in more than one, so the one isn’t singled out anymore than she will be already. Let’s suggest three. How about Rometty (on principle), Nancy Lopez, and Condoleezza Rice? It’s obvious the club cares nothing about public perception. But that kind of gesture sure would produce some warm, inclusive feelings, words typically not associated with Augusta National.