Saturday, April 7, 2012
Updated: April 9, 10:27 AM ET
Watson moving up after Masters win
By Gene Wojciechowski
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Only Bubba Watson would sit in his plastic folding chair during the Masters awards ceremony Sunday evening and wonder what kind of helicopter was flying overhead.
Only Bubba Watson would use a green jacket to negotiate a No-Change-Diapers treaty with his wife about their just-adopted newborn son.
Only Bubba Watson would hit a 52-degree gap wedge that ducked under 18-foot-high tree branches, instantly gained altitude, hooked 40 yards, parachuted onto the green of the second playoff hole from 135 yards away, squirted toward the flagstick, settled exhausted about 15 feet away -- and later call the tournament-winning shot "pretty easy."
Your 2012 Masters champion is a nut job, but in a good way. He's a human faucet. He cried enough on Sunday night to create his own rain forest.
You'd cry too if you won the lottery twice in three weeks. That's what happened to the 33-year-old Watson, who welcomed little Caleb to his and wife Angie's life in late March and then added a bouncing, 44-long green jacket to the family as the sun began to dip below the Georgia pines early Sunday night.
"I've never had a dream go this far, so I can't say it's a dream come true," said Watson.
Trust us, it is.
A guy who has never taken a golf lesson, but is an expert at life lessons, outlasted Louis Oosthuizen in a two-hole playoff. He did it -- well, nobody is exactly sure how he did it because almost nobody on the planet could hit that same shot. Seriously, a gap wedge from the trees and pine straw off the No. 10 fairway that somehow plops onto the green? With the entire golf world watching? And a first major championship hanging by its fingernails?
The old Bubba would have hyperventilated himself silly. He would have cracked like cement. But the new and much improved Watson calmed his nerves long enough to grip and rip himself into Masters history.
Here are the Bubba firsts: First Player To Use A Pink Driver To Win Here ... First Player To Have Appeared In A Music Video Wearing Bib Overalls To Win Here ... First Player To Think "Y'all Are Going To Forget About Me Tomorrow" To Win Here.
No one is going to forget this guy, this final round or this tournament. It's impossible to suffer that kind of memory loss.
Tim Tebow already Tweeted about Bubba. He's a trending phenom. With one audacious swing he went from borderline golf star to first-name-only status.
"You could tell something big was coming,'' said one of his agency reps, Johan Elliott, describing Watson's mood during Masters week. "He's starting to realize that he is one of the best."
Watson refers to his playing style as "Bubba Golf." Bubba Golf doesn't have a conscience. It never plays it safe. It's high risk, high reward, high drama.
That's Bubba's life too.
He was a gifted slacker, a golf savant who didn't work hard enough, didn't care hard enough and nearly alienated those closest to him. His caddie and friend, Ted Scott, threatened to walk out on him if Watson didn't clean up his golf act. Watson got the message.
He dedicated his first PGA Tour victory to his father Gerry, who died of throat cancer not long after the 2010 win at The Travelers. If you don't get misty watching Bubba's post-round speech that day, then your tear ducts were removed at birth.
He married the lovely Angie, who told him on their first date that she would never be able to conceive a child. They've spent the past four years working their way through the adoption process, suffering through red tape and heartache.
Three Mondays ago they waited for news of a possible adoption. Thumbs down. The next day, after more calls, they were told another child was in need of a home. Could they commit right now?
Could they commit? Does Bubba have a Southern drawl? Of course they could commit.
His name is Caleb, and Watson couldn't wait to get home to Orlando, Fla., where they're renting a house, to see him. He teared up -- Bubba, not the kid -- just thinking about it.
"It's just -- mmm [long paused as his voice broke]. Man, I don't know," he said.
The same guy who unknowingly insulted the French during a tournament there nearly a year ago (he's sort of clueless on famous French landmarks) is a charity workhorse. That explains the pink driver. It also explains his Masters-week outfits -- all done to raise awareness and money for cosmetic surgery for children with birth defects.
He has a twang, a born-again story and the Dukes of Hazzard car, General Lee. He hits the ball farther in one shot than you and me hit it in two. He doesn't know a thing about changing a diaper, which is why he was hoping the green jacket might buy him some time with Angie.
He is unlike anybody else.
"He's just a big kid," said buddy Rickie Fowler. "He's a goofball who likes to have fun.
But he's a big family man. If you needed something, he'd be there in a drop of a hat."
Fowler stuck around to watch the playoff. So did friends Ben Crane and Aaron Baddeley. They were there to deliver post-win hugs. Crane even stood on a chair and recorded Bubba's walk to the Augusta National practice green for the awards ceremony.
When it was time for Watson to give his speech to the patrons who had gathered 15-deep around the green, he thanked everyone, including the locker room attendants. He loved that locker room, loved the camaraderie, loved seeing those familiar faces.
"Been there four years," he said of the locker -- back row, third from the right -- that he used during each of his visits here. "But it's a good thing to do, leave that locker room."
That's because next year Watson will be admitted to the Champions Locker Room, reserved only for green jacket winners, on the second floor of the main clubhouse. Imagine that.
I talked to one of the locker room attendants that had looked after Watson these past four years. He had watched the speech on TV and loved every word of it.
"You going to miss, Bubba?" I said.
"I am," said the attendant, a wide smile on his face. "But we're glad to see anybody move up to the Champions Locker Room."
Dream, meet Reality.
|Bubba Watson might be golf's version of Dick Vermeil -- someone who seems to cry at the drop of a hat. But the Bagdad, Fla. native by all accounts is an emotional person who tells it like it is.|
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
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