by Jeff Skinner
Coming into the 112th U.S. Open Bubba Watson voiced his apprehension about the Lake Course at The Olympic Club. After a few practice rounds his protests grew louder and after round one he actually said that the course was too tough for him.
Well, after round two Bubba got just what he wanted: the weekend off. It was exceedingly clear that each time he opened his mouth he wanted no part of Olympic. And it showed in his play.
Paired with the two biggest draws in golf the marquee threesome was supposed to entertain and thrill the fans at the Open. While Bubba’s fans were thrilled to see him pull out that pink monster of a driver seemingly on every hole it was a formula for missed fairways, bogeys by the bunch and a quick getaway back to Florida.
Since the Masters win made Bubba one of the most famous rednecks in sport he has had some major life changes going on. The most important of which was the adoption of his son Caleb. He took some time off to be a dad and celebrate his time as a family and that’s totally understandable. On top of that he had to deal with all the added pressures of being a Masters champion and then he was in the middle of a move to a new house. All very intense, life changing events.
But soon Bubba will need to be able to be both a father and a golfer. He’ll need to learn how to compartmentalize his life. It’s not easy, any job that pulls a dad from his family for weeks and months at a time certainly can wear a man down. But golf is his profession. It was golf that got him his millions, his new house, his fame, his 600,000 plus Twitter followers and just about everything else.
Maybe Bubba needs to take some paternal leave from the tour and spend as much time with his family as he wants. But I’m sure that there are other pressures that call for him to be out on tour. But if he is out here just to appease sponsors then he’s here for the wrong reason.
I don’t expect much from Bubba the rest of this season. I think he is too distracted and he has regressed into that old, whining Bubba on the course. Remember his caddy and wife had to plead with him to have fun on the course a few years ago and he changed his ways. But today’s Bubba looks nothing like the “fun Bubba” that won twice last season, won that green jacket and busied himself by driving around in the General Lee.
Golf looks like work, really hard work for Bubba now and maybe he does need a break. But when next season rolls around and all those past Masters Champions gather for the Champions Diner I suggest that Bubba grab a few minutes with Jack Nicklaus and find out how a real major champ balances golf and life. It’s not easy but Jack certainly mastered it. Maybe Bubba could learn a thing or two.