Our View: Hail Bubba!

Posted: April 16, 2014

That diminished cadre of golf- and people-watchers who happened to stick with the fourth round of the Masters on Sunday saw some interesting play. Not exciting golf, mind you — as the last twosomes turned Amen Corner, the tournament was essentially over — but interesting and, dare we say it with nary a Tiger or Lefty in sight, intriguing golf.

You see, those who cared to hang around saw an artist at work. They saw Gerry Lester Watson Jr. — known to his intimates (and everyone else) as Bubba — at his finest.

With his second victory in three years at Augusta, Mr. Watson is no longer a passing fancy, a one-major wonder. And in a sporting realm where the equivalent of architectural blueprints registers as art, Bubba is an impressionist, the portrait of an artist as a golfer. His game, played from the port side, is like no other on tour. For those old enough to see the connection, he’s the links version of another lefty, tennis’ John McEnroe — albeit without the volcanic temper.

So fie on the naysayers who say golf is not worth watching when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are absent come the weekend. That will never be the case so long we have Bubba.

In assessing the allure of this golfing savant, Tommy Tomlinson, a contributor to Forbes, summed it up perfectly: “Most of us don’t watch sports just for the quality of play. We want someone to root for, someone to root against, someone we care about. There aren’t many professional golfers right now who can make us care. Bubba Watson can make us care.”

And for many reasons. He’s self-taught, never had a lesson. He’s not afraid to cry — genuine tears, that is. His swing is hardly picture-perfect, but he sends his tees shots into the stratosphere, courtesy of a pink driver. He makes the occasional music video. He’s not afraid to express his devotion to the Almighty, but does not overdo it. He exists in his own special world of Bubba-ness, and thus defies easy and convenient labeling. How can’t you root for a guy like that?

Or for a guy who savored his Masters triumph — like the good Southern boy he is — with a “double grilled cheese and hash browns” at a nearby Waffle House and then left a reported $148 tip?

Remaining unaffected . . . and true to his roots — maybe that’s why Bubba “can make us care.” In a world where authenticity seems in short supply, it’s gratifying to witness the genuine article.