Should all golf fans love Bubba Watson?
says Joe Whitley, who thinks he is a breath of fresh air
I FIND it hard to see how anyone can dislike Bubba Watson.
I know he’s quirky and odd, but I find his unique style incredibly refreshing – especially when you compare him to other, guarded pros like Tiger Woods.
Everything from the way Bubba plays golf to how he speaks and carries himself is unlike anyone else past or present.
On the course, he’s an exciting maverick and is, in my eyes, the most creative and talented player on the circuit.
He’s so entertaining to watch – he shapes the ball in all directions (sometimes accidentally!), loves to test himself by escaping from the cabbage, and gets very passionate, emotional and excited.
I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to watch Seve in his hey-day, but I’m sure Bubba is the next best thing.
To me, he is the professional that most closely resonates with the average amateur. Talent aside, he behaves like a lot of players at my club – he is very stubborn, lets his emotions get the better of him and finds himself in the trees a lot.
Indeed, he has said and done a lot of things that haven’t shown him in the best light.
If anything, this made me like him more. At the Zurich Classic in 2008, Bubba called out Steve Elkington for moving during his backswing and refused to shake his hand on the 18th.
Last year, making his European Tour debut in France, he complained about lack of security and ridiculously referred to the Eiffel Tower as ‘that big tower’.
Two heat-of-the-moment actions that made a lot of armchair viewers dislike the left-hander, but made him appear much more interesting and human to realists like myself.
I spoke to Bubba in 2010, a few weeks after he made his Ryder Cup debut in Wales and have never finished an interview with more respect for a professional.
It was around the time of daylight saving and I was due to call his agent at 0900 Arizona time. I’d worked out the GMT equivalent without taking the extra hour into consideration and was thus very late.
His agent wasn’t at all happy, but Bubba understood and agreed to talk to me when he was next free a few days later. It was on his 32nd birthday. That said a lot to me.
I do not think you could count on one hand how many tour pros would forgive such an error – never mind speak to me on their birthday!
What is more, Bubba was chatting away long after the 30 minutes I was assigned, which is not commonplace.
I can see how his ultra-American, highly-religious persona may rub some up the wrong way, but having experienced his kindness and gentle nature, I can’t praise him enough.
He’s a genuinely nice bloke and I’m chuffed he’s just added a Green Jacket to his wardrobe. I was rooting for him the whole way.
Given the chance, I would always make the point of watching him hit shots in person, if only to check that he really does never hit a straight shot.
says Dan Murphy, he just isn’t the kind of person I relate to
BUBBA WATSON winning the Masters was the best thing that has happened in golf for many years and, accordingly, it left me with a big smile on my face. But only because I’d backed him at 55-1.
It’s a tactic I’ve used before – identify some of the players I would least like to see win a Major then back them to do so. Let’s call it the Rory Sabbatini Theory.
So what have I got against Bubba? Nothing concrete really, just that I like my golfers to be a bit more clued-up and of this world.
Ideally, if they came to play in France, for example, they would at least be able to name the Eiffel Tower.
And while we’re at it, they wouldn’t complain that things were done slightly differently on the European Tour than in America. (Apparently, the marshalling isn’t quite as rigorous and so the players occasionally end up alongside the fans.)
Really, who’d have thunk it, Bubba?
I prefer a more cerebral, calculating kind of golfer, not one who plays trick shots half the time. Give me an Olazabal, finessing a long iron, or a Garcia, fizzing a low punch under the wind.
Not someone with a pink driver head whose hands are so high at the top of his swing that he looks like he’s trying to replace a light bulb.
Bubba has always struck me as the kind of American who thinks the boundaries of planet earth are on one side the Atlantic Ocean and on the other the Pacific.
And what happened when he played in Paris last year only confirmed that suspicion.
He’s also someone who uses Twitter to share his religious views, often quoting verses from the Good Book for the benefit of his half a million or so followers (that’s Bubba’s Twitter followers, not god’s disciples).
I have no issue with a man’s religion or beliefs – but I don’t necessarily want to have them rammed down my throat while expecting an insight about his intentions to tee it up in the Memorial next month.
Beyond that I just find him a bit goofy, and that isn’t a quality I aspire to.
I realise these are all highly personal observations, but that’s because I’m trying to explain why I feel the way I do about him.
I don’t wish him ill in any way, and if it turns out he attracts a whole new audience to the game then that’s great.
Given the chance, I would always make the point of watching him hit shots in person, if only to check that he really does never hit a straight shot (clue: he does, much more often than he hits bananas).
I just don’t necessarily see him as one of the game’s greats and I could think of many others that I’d rather see claim a Major if it was up to me.
Which it most certainly isn’t.