Do you want to know what’s crazy about the ridiculous shot Bubba Watson authored on the second playoff hole at Augusta National Sunday evening to win The Masters? It really wasn’t that hard.
I’m serious, it wasn’t. Sure, it was a blind 155-yard hard draw off of the pine straw onto a lightning fast green with the entire world watching. Sure there are about six humans on the planet who could even dream up the shot. But, I’m telling you, in that moment for Bubba… the shot was simple. It was something he’d prepared for his whole life. If you believe in this sort of thing, you could even call it his shot of destiny.
Every since Bubba picked up a golf club he’s been unorthodox. His swing has never and will never win a beauty competition. He’s a nervous guy who used to stab at putts and chip balls a bit long. In an era where every golfer has a swing coach, a psychiatrist, a putting coach and a short-game guru to help him — Bubba just does his thing.
For years, Bubba has refused to hit the straight shot. Maybe straight shots bore Bubba. He hooks balls when he doesn’t need to hook them at all. He can hit fades. He can send balls soaring into the sky when most guys would bump and run it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard golf commentators say something to the effect of, “well that’s just Bubba being Bubba.”
The great ones are always misunderstood. Nobody quite understands why Tiger can’t seem to enjoy himself on a golf course unless he’s holding the trophy. Everybody used to cringe when Phil refused to play safe. Now, they’re celebrated for these things. When it comes to Bubba, now he’s celebrated for not hitting the straight shot.
It was a big day at Augusta this Sunday. The sideshow, the carnival, fun guy walked in and stole the green jacket. Do you think the game’s elite ever thought Bubba would etch his name alongside them? Nick Faldo will talk all day about how he’s walked the course, and which way balls roll from certain spots on certain greens and he can even talk intelligently about major championship pressure – but he can’t see the game like Bubba does. And, because of that, he probably wrote Bubba off as a fun guy to watch who will never win big ones.
That notion is now dead. Bubba killed it when he hit the shot that even many of the game’s elite could never have dreamed up. Bubba killed it when Bubba just did his thing.
He’s a welcome throwback, really. It’s wonderful to hear about a guy who never took a golf lesson and refuses to work with countless swing coaches win major championships. Maybe it makes it harder from time to time not to have their counsel. But, it’s fair to wonder if it didn’t make things easier when Bubba was buried in the trees late Sunday night.
Imagine if he’d had all those voices in his head. The swing coach telling him to play it safe. The short-game guru reminding him that up-and-down is always possible. The psychiatrist telling him today’s not the day to get crazy with the golf ball.
None of that was there Sunday evening. The only voice and vision was Bubba’s. He saw the shot and he hit the shot. It was more simple than we could imagine. Then Bubba put on the green jacket.
Bubba did what Bubba does.