Golf has just been injected with a breath of fresh air, and it’s taken a dramatic Masters Tournament for the golf world to fully appreciate what it now has on its hands.
Bubba Watson is the new Masters champion. Very few could have predicted that he would have the tenacity to bring this one home, despite recent good form and an outrageous talent to boot.
"Bubba Golf," as he calls it, can only be played by the owner: Booming drives, all played with shape, allied to a hit-it-find-it-and hit-it-again approach. It's very refreshing on the professional golf circuit. He plays the game in a unique way, relying totally on creative shot-making that cannot be taught.
The 33-year-old has never had a lesson in his life. Quite simply, he is one of the most naturally-gifted golfers to ever grace the game. The big-hitting American just couldn’t manage his own talent well enough when he first came out, and he has been misunderstood by most.
They say that the cream will always rise to the top, yet even with Bubba’s talent, a Masters win was something of a stretch. “I never got that far in my dreams,” he said afterwards when asked to share his thoughts on an improbable win.
It was his fourth PGA Tour victory since 2010 and his first major triumph. Having lost a three-hole playoff for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits 19 months ago, few could still have predicted that he would win the biggest prizes because of his perceived image as a goofy kid in a six-foot three-inch body.
A committed Christian who doesn’t smoke or drink, and who tweets about skateboarding stunts, can often be misunderstood. But the man who raises vast amounts for charity, who has just adopted a little boy with his wife Angie and whose shot-making ability is something to marvel at, that is the man who has claimed the 76th Masters Tournament.
A home-bird from Bagdad, Florida (population under 2,000) - someone who was on the receiving end of some harsh criticism for his innocent statements about Parisian landmarks last July - has had the last laugh here at Augusta National.
Playing alongside South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, who outrageously holed his second shot at the par-five second hole in the final round for a historic albatross, Watson was unperturbed. His birdie on the same hole showed his newfound calmness. A back-nine burst of four consecutive birdies vaulted him into a two-horse race for the title with the 2010 British Open champion.
It was eventually decided on the second hole of a playoff, when from the woods on the right side of the hole, Watson’s creativity and shot-making genius was given the perfect canvas. Hooking a wedge a full 40 feet in the air through a gap in the trees to the 10th green nearly 140 yards away was, quite simply, breathtaking.
He now has a first major title, a cheque for $1.4 million and a whole host of new fans who have come to appreciate that golf has a new superstar, one who is incredibly good for the game.
As we mark the April 9 birth date of golf’s last great artiste, the late Seve Ballesteros, it is fitting that we herald the arrival of a new golfing genius - and his name is Bubba!
Bubba Watson is alright for a golf player.
What a great camera shot. That photo catches the moment and the adrenaline in everyone's veins. An emotional moment for our new champion Bubba. Way to go. Nothing like a roller coaster ride to the end.
Great to see a new name on the trophy but heralding him as a "new golfing genius" is premature hype. He's 33 not 21 so he's no prodigy. He's also among a number of first time major winners since the end of Tiger's dominance and none of them have so far repeated the feat. Also, while he seems to be a paragon of virtue Watson is unschooled and plays by instinct just like that other instinctive "genius" John Daly, and look what happened to him. The truth is it's much harder to weather the tough times when you don't have the fundamentals down pat and you're relying on natural ability to pull you through. Let's see how Bubba fairs now he's a marked man before branding him with the unnecessary burden of "genius". He earned the right to enjoy this victory without hyperbolic journalists piling on the pressure for an encore before the bubbly has even gone flat so let him be.
Wow! What an interesting email that shows you have a brain not out to step on somebody just to make a two-second impression. Congratulations to you and have a nice day!!!
A one-hit-wonder. The new superstar? Not. Too many very good golfers. One of the poorest articles ever written on golf.
One of the nicest stories in along time,..one can determine very quickly which, are the T.Woods fans, i would say herbivore, and alehandro, GO BUBBA, even it is only for a short while, you are a breath of fresh air...ignore the misery guts's,..Yeah i will now be shot down by all the language ex spurts, no such words they will say,..dumb South African..
GO BUBBA GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shane's commentary during the Master's was great! I'm looking forward to hearing from him in the future.
Peter Mills, I'm not a Tiger Woods' fan but a golf fan and a realist. I give Bubba his due, but in my opinion the writer went over the top with the hype. Victory at the Masters is huge, but I just feel it takes more than one major win to prove you're a breath of fresh air and not a puff of smoke.
It is always interesting to read negative comments from individuals who have nothing to offer but criticism. Anyone who can win any Major should be considered a player. For you critics out there, try to break 90 at the local muni or if you are white and privileged and can play Augusta, I dare you to post your three digit score afterward.
Bubba is the most natural golfer since Sam Snead. Sam was defiled by writers for 60 years because he was a hlllbilly from West Virginia. Well Sam won 100 events and many majors. His career spanned 5 decades. And he was no where near the person Bubba is.
To the nay sayers... raw talent is raw talent. The great and humble Jack Nicklaus said the the player who hits the most greens in regulation is the top player day in and day out. Look at Bubba's lifetime GIR stats. He is number 1. If his putting EVER gets into the top 10 on the tour, he runs the table.
Shane O’Donoghue joined CNN in 2011 as the host of monthly programme, ‘Living Golf’. Hailing from Tipperary in Ireland, Shane worked as a presenter and commentator for the national broadcaster RTE for fifteen years. From 2004-2010, he was part of the BBC TV Golf Commentary team, reporting, commentating and interviewing at key events such as The Masters, Open Championships, BMW PGA Championships, Barclays Scottish Open Championships in addition to the Ryder and Walker Cups. For CNN, he was the first journalist to interview Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy together. A fine player himself, Shane regularly takes on the pros on behalf of CNN Living Golf. He has a particular passion for the amateur game, and has written a book called, “Legends in their Spare Time”, about Ireland’s finest amateur players.
Watch CNN's golf program at these times (GMT):
Nov 6: 1030, 1730
Nov 8: 0730, 2200
Nov 9: 1730
Nov 15: 1730
Nov 12: 0730, 2230
‘Living Golf’ is CNN’s monthly golf show, hosted by Shane O’Donoghue.