The triumph of “Bubba Ball” at the Augusta National on Sunday provided golf fans with one of the most memorable Masters ever…a roller coast ride of pretenders, contenders, opportunities missed and dramatic shots made. For the first time during his career in a major Bubba Watson made his unbelievable play believable emerging as the last man standing as the sun set at Augusta.
And love him or hate him, Bubba Watson winning his first major and Green Jacket is one of the most timely events that could have ever happened for the golf in America.
Following the decline of Tiger Woods after the 2008 U.S. Open, American golfers have won only 4 of the last 14 majors. European golfers in particular have begun to reassert a dominate position within the game and world rankings, capturing half of the majors in the past two years. What American golf has been lacking is a golfer that is charismatic and captivating enough to allow the media, marketers, and fans to move beyond the hangover of what Woods dominance brought to the sport.
This is not to say that the 33 year old Watson is the individual who will turn around the tour’s dwindling popularity numbers or the Tiger-centeric focus of the sport. But as I wrote in the spring of 2011 (click here for article), Bubba is the one American golfer who the PGA Tour should place their marketing support behind. Watson’s incredible length off the tee, gunslinging mentality, creative shot making ability, and of course his unorthodox swing makes him potential a hug draw in whatever tournament he plays in. Combine these attributes with the fact that Bubba Ball has won three tournaments, including a major, along with seven Top 10′s and sixteen Top 25′s since the start of the 2011 and you’ve got a golfer on a hot streak…something that can last from few years to a decade.
Most importantly though, when it counted the most, Bubba played some of his best golf on the Sunday of a major…something that other top American golfers like Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, and Ryan Moore haven’t been able to accomplish. In a game that is 95% mental and confidence is at a premium, achieving a victory in a major just be exactly what Watson needs to make Bubba Ball a consistent threat in tournaments.
All of this means that whether it’s a short or long term, the Tour needs to ride Watson’s success until he fizzles. Doing so can only help the Tour convince the mainstream media that Woods isn’t the only story on the course and reinforce the idea to casual fans of golf that unique greatness still exists on the Tour and he doesn’t go by the name of Eldrick.
Where Bubba Ball will take us or what its longevity will be remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure…it’s sure to be one entertaining ride.
2012 Masters Recap
The magical sounds of “Kuch”: Over the past couple of years Matt Kuchar has become a consistent presence on top of the leaderboard on the PGA Tour. Though his play and demeanor lacks the flash of other top golfers, Kuchar’s name is perfect for the crowds at Augusta. Having Matt on top of the leaderboard on the Sunday of a Master would make for great television with the sounds of fans yelling “Kuuuuuuuuuuuch” echoing though the pine trees. Here’s to next year being your year Kuch.
O’Putter where art thou?: The putter continues to haunt Padraig Harrington, who played well enough from tee to green on Sunday to win the Masters. However, Padraig has zero confidence in his putter and/or stroke, which showed as the three time major winner missed putt after putt. Until Harrington stops carrying three putters in his bag during practice rounds it’s hard to believe that he’ll break his nearly four year winless streak anytime soon.
Bamboo at Augusta?: After Rory McIlroy’s wayward tee shot on the 10th hole last year television spectators learned that there were houses located behind the trees on the left side of the fairway…something never seen before during coverage of the tournament. This year Phil Mickelson’s farcical tee shot on the Par 3 4th hole lead to the revelation that bamboo exists on the hollowed grounds of Augusta. Bamboo? Really? How is bamboo allowed to exist within the confines of a supposedly pristine course in the middle of Georgia? And yes I know the course use to be a nursery.
I realize now that I’m not a winner: Once upon a time Sergio Garcia was suppose to be the next great thing, a golfer that would challenge a young Tiger Woods’ supremacy on the course. A decade plus later Garcia’s career has amount to that of a pay check collector and the Spaniard told reporters after the Masters that he’s not good enough to win a major. Kudos to you Sergio….admitting and coming to grips with who you are represents the first steps towards a happy life. Bask in your mediocrity and stop being a whinning ——— on the course.
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