|Bubba Watson, of the U.S. (R), leaves the 10th green with his mother Mollie as the gallery applauds after Watson won a playoff to win the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
AUGUSTA, GA. - What does Bubba Watson’s Masters win mean for the world of golf?
Some in the sports media want you to believe that after Sunday’s win at Augusta National the big-hitting everyman will become a cult-hero, the next John Daly
After all, Watson’s not a country club brat with a swing guru and a different mental coach for each side of his brain. He’s Bubba from Baghdad, Florida. A self-made man with a self-made swing. Heck, he even bought one of the original General Lee cars from the ‘80s TV series Dukes of Hazzard. And now he has a green jacket.
Watson’s story is fascinating and his playoff victory over Louis Oosthuizen made for an exciting Masters. Heading into Sunday’s final round there were a number of great golf stories possible. Outside of Swedes Peter Hanson and Henrik Stenson, any of the players who started the day in the top-10 had an interesting angle that would get the golf world buzzing — Phil Mickelson going for his fourth green jacket; Oosthuizen validating his 7-shot win at St. Andrews in 2010; Padraig Harrington winning his fourth major; Sean Foley student Hunter Mahan winning his first major. These are all great golf stories.
The problem is the average sports fan and mainstream media only care about golf stories — even great ones — four times a year. With 14 different major champions in the past 14 majors the casual golf fan has little to get excited about. Four times a year, he learns about a player, embraces his back-story, talks about him with friends on Monday and then forgets about him.
Post-Masters euphoria has some in the media thinking that Watson can break out of this pattern and become the next Daly. After all, Watson is the longest driver on tour, is a good ol’ boy, and is little bit off his rocker.
There are a few problems, though.
Watson says he likes to hang out at home with his video games while Daly likes to judge bikini contests at Hooters.
Watson plays on twitter all night with his phone while Daly plays guitar with his fans.
Watson was ranked 16th in the world rankings before winning the 2012 Masters while Daly was ranked 168th in the world before winning the 1991 PGA Championship.
It can definitely be argued that ‘the everyman’ can relate to Watson, but Daly’s face is on their flag.
Long John embraced his popularity and ran with it. Bubba wants nothing to do with it.
“I’m not ready for fame,” Watson said Sunday evening.” I don’t really want to be famous or anything like that. I just want to be me and play golf.”
There is nothing wrong with Watson’s attitude and real golf fans have more than enough plots and sub-plots to keep them interested all year long. But for anybody hoping to see golf near the front page of the Sports section more than four times a year, there is still only one man who can do that and last we saw of him he was kicking and slamming clubs at Augusta.
With American pals Rickie Fowler and Ben Crane out on Augusta National celebrating with Watson on Sunday, all of a sudden golf looked like a team sport.
Is that what golf is right now? Team America versus the world, or are Watson, Crane and Fowler just good friends?
After all, they are members of the boy band Golf Boys on YouTube.
The fourth member of the Golf Boys, Hunter Mahan, was missing in the celebration Sunday. After the third round at the Masters, Mahan had a chance to once and for all convince us that all Americans are close friends who share golf secrets with one another.
Mahan was asked if he had talked to “Phil” about what it takes to get it done at Augusta National.
“Talked to who?” Mahan asked.
“Phil,” reiterated a member of the media.
“Phil? Mickelson? No,” Mahan said. “We haven’t gotten that deep.”
Well, there goes that idea.