21 things you didn't know about Bubba Watson
1) His real name is Gerry (pronounced Gary). He was nicknamed Bubba by his late father (also named Gerry) who likened his chubby newborn to 6ft 7in Bubba Smith – a famous American Football player.
2) He has never had a lesson and doesn’t plan to have one. In a 2010 interview with me, Bubba said: “I only take advice from someone who is better than me. Why should I listen to a golf teacher who I can beat? It’s more fun to do it yourself and you get more pride.”
3) He never hits a straight shot. He can’t. The American learned to play golf using a cut-down 9-iron and plastic balls. As a six-year-old, he would shape the balls around his house and under the branches of trees in his garden.
4) He’s all about feel. When Tiger Woods wants to hit a fade, he will try get steeper, quieten his arms, try hit the ball over the top. Bubba’s approach to fading the ball: “I aim right (he’s a lefty remember) and think fade.”
5) He’s a devout Christian.
6) He loves a trick shot. His YouTube channel is full of hilarious videos of the American hitting all manner of shots with ‘the Old Wooden Stick’ – a persimmon driver.
7) He struggles to concentrate. Bubba thinks he has attention deficit disorder and told me his mind often wonders when on the course. “I think about a lot of stuff out there. I think about what Im going to eat for dinner, what I’m going to watch on TV, what video games I’ll play.”
8) He hits it a country mile but doesn’t try to. Watson swings the club at around 125mph and can generate 190mph of ball speed. “It [big hitting] is something I’ve always done. I’m not trying to hit it far a lot of times, I’m just trying to get it in play. I don’t always go 100 per cent.”
9) He has practised a lot with Tiger Woods. “I’ve learned a lot by watching him – not by him telling me. I watch how he practises and how he uses a practice round to learn about a golf course.”
10) He and Tiger trash talk. “I talk about how short he hits it and he talks about how many Majors he has!”
Bubba’s approach to fading the ball: “I aim right and think fade.” 11) He’s very emotional. The outpour of emotion you saw on the 10th green after Bubba won the Masters play-off is not an uncommon sight – he burst into tears after his three other wins.
12) His wife Angie is an ex-professional basketball player and is 6′ 4″ tall. She no longer plays basketball but is a keen golfer and regularly tees it up with Bubba.
13) He’s just adopted a child – one-month old Caleb.
14) He doesn’t like playing on the European Tour. After missing the cut at the French Open, Watson said: “It’s not a normal tournament. There’s cameras, there’s phones, there’s everything. There’s no security.”
He riled many around the world when he described the Eiffel Tower as ‘that big tower’, the Arc de Triomphe as ‘an arch in the middle of the road’, Versailles Palace as ‘that castle next to where I’m staying’, and he Louvre as ‘this building that starts with an L’.
15) He wears a $525,000 Richard Mille watch that was exclusively designed for him.
16) He owns the actual General Lee car from the Dukes of Hazzard films. He restored it at a cost of £69,000 and was seen pulling up to TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open in it. “It’s not like it’s easy to get into,” he said.
17) He is very charitable and donates a lot of his winnings.
19) He starred in a music video. Alongside fellow PGA Tour players Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler (collectively known as The Golf Boys), he released ‘Oh Oh Oh’. For every 100,000 hits the video gets, Farmers Insurance donate $1,000 to charity.
20) He’s good friends with the Golf Boys – and Aaron Baddeley – and they regularly play ‘credit card roulette’ (they put all their cards in a bowl and the one that is picked out pays for the meal) at restaurants when they eat together.
21) He tries to answer every mention he gets on Twitter. Whether or not he’ll be able to keep up with this promise now is questionable but he’s always strived to reply to every question and thank his followers for their support. He has nearly 40,000 tweets and I’d wager that at least 80 per cent of those are responses to his followers. I find his determination to interact with fans incredibly refreshing, considering many other pros simply ignore their fans.