by Jeff Skinner
Bubba Watson’s impressive victory at The Masters continues to resonate through the world of golf. But there were two drastic differences in his second Masters win from his first.
His first win in 2012 was filled with drama as he strung together birdies on the back nine to move into the lead and then make history in a playoff with one of the most unforgettable shots in the history of the game. This Masters wasn’t won on the back nine or from the woods. Bubba’s 2014 Masters victory was essentially his after the ninth hole.
Secondly, but more significantly, it was the difference in Bubba himself that allowed him to maintain his composure over that back nine and earn his second green jacket.
On the course he displayed patience and even though we all thought his shot through the trees on fifteen was too risky, he was certain that it was the safe and sure play. He was as steady as he has ever been on the course over that closing nine.
The Bubba we watched sink the winning putt, hug his son, kiss his wife and don the green jacket was a different Bubba also. Last time he won at Augusta he had just adopted his son and this year he has two solid years of being a father under his belt. That translates into two years of change for Bubba. And it certainly is change for the good.
Bubba’s dedication to his family has given him a new perspective on life and his chosen profession. Bubba had a history of petulance and impatience on the course when things went bad previously. He had taken his frustrations out on his caddy, the fans and his game on many occasions. But this appears to be a new and more composed Bubba. Nothing fazed him on the course Sunday and he is better prepared to handle the mental pressures of major championship golf.
He says it all stems from his new family and concentrating on being a better father and husband. He lists his priorities as God, wife, son, friends and family and then golf. The past two years as a parent has changed Bubba. The self described head case is more comfortable with his life both on and off the course. He displayed a mental toughness on Sunday that had previously escaped him.
But maybe it really wasn’t a mental toughness but his actual lack of caring that worked for him. He knows no matter what the outcome his son and wife will be there for him. And while he cares enough to play his best and execute his shot the outcome isn’t life or death.
To be sure, he still does care but not to the point of making him ineffective. And to be sure he has so much more in his life to care about and that has freed him up on the course. That’s the fact that makes him so imposing and should scare the heck out of his fellow professionals. A Bubba that just cares about the shot and not the outcome could be unstoppable.
Bubba is still a sixteen year old trapped in a 35 year old body. He loves to joke, have fun and enjoy his life. He will certainly be posting some crazy video of his adventures soon. But he is a changed man in that body. A man with a new perspective on his life and with that perspective comes a new comfortableness with himself and his game. Two green jackets could be just the beginning.