Masters 2012: Bubba bags the Green Jacket on Super Sunday

For a man born in Bagdad, winning arguably golf’s most glamorous and high profile major tournament ain’t half bad as achievements go.

Bubba Watson Masters 2012

Bubba, one of the game's real characters, was totally overwhelmed by his tense play-off triumph

This is Bagdad, Florida of course rather than a certain location which the American nation is a little less fond of but still, for a man of such humble beginnings and of such immense personality this was one hell of a win.

Not only has he bagged a Green Jacket, which by the way I think would go awfully well with a pair of dungarees (see attached video evidence) but the fashion in which he did so was enormously admirable.

Play-offs in any elite level golf competition, let alone The Masters, are arguably most suited to those who are composed, accurate, consistent and cool-headed. Bubba Watson though is a man hardly synonymous with any of the above, well, not until now anyway…

The manner in which he plays the game is, generally speaking and quite frankly, extraordinary. His temperament as we saw very clearly when he had a “mudball” on the first fairway is raw and unkempt at the best of times, his swing is in almost no way at all ‘technically sound’ and his game is renowned far more greatly for it’s staggering length rather than it’s deadly accuracy.

In nearly every way imaginable Bubba is an outstanding golfer and, perhaps a little unfairly, I mean that in terms of his character and his persona on and off the course rather than his game. Somehow though he has managed “without a lesson” to become one of the finest golfers on the planet and one of the finest players of his generation within a nation which is arguably historically the strongest golfing nation on the planet.

Bubba Watson Masters 2012 winner

If the Jacket fits...

Few lucky people can call themselves a major golf tournament winner and now Bubba has defied the odds and certainly some golfing logic to become one of this privileged bunch and as much as my previous tone might suggest that he is a little bit of a shock winner I don’t actually find his victory that much of a surprise. In fact, I did have enough faith in his abilities to place the princely sum of £2 on him to win the tournament after he had got himself in position after day one and it made me several quid richer. Thanks Bubba.

Though he may be unorthodox, and he may be pretty hot-headed and at times he may even be a little rash, it is these characteristics which have made him a major winner and that mean he could be a constant threat in the big four tournaments of golf’s calendar year for the foreseeable future.

Such character traits may not be befitting of a man who would reach the top of the world rankings (ie. a Luke Donald-esque player), or that of a man that always delivers when in position to charge to victory but they are the hallmarks of several players that have become icons of the game, most notably, Seve Ballesteros.

The likes of Seve have of course become the best player in the world and have topped the rankings and that is perhaps because they aren’t in the same league as someone like Bubba, they are in no uncertain terms the cream of the unpredictable crop.

Watson is indeed almost certainly more streaky and more unreliable than some of the game’s huge, exciting and at times over-the-top characters but it is his temperament and his playing quirks which give him the X-Factor which certain players lack.

On this, the day of his most significant golfing triumph to date, Bubba did keep a fairly cool head though and he did play pretty straight and pretty sensibly. There were no eagles, no long range hole-outs, but his relentless, punishing length of the tee was crucial as was the imagination and sheer outrageousness of his ‘tournament winning’ hook out of the woods with the wedge in the play-off.

Whether Bubba ever wins another major or ever has such a satisfying day in his career again is unclear but I think one and all can accept that he was a deserving winner and that he is now a Green Jacket holder because he showed extraordinary bottle, class, skill and character throughout the overwhelming majority of the four days at Augusta.

As per, The Masters have once again delivered a week of marvellous entertainment and the nature of Bubba’s win is something that most of us distant viewers won’t forget for quite some time so just imagine how Mr.Watson is feeling right now. The only problem now is that we and Bubba have to wait another year for it to come around again…

Advertisements

The Open 2011 Day Two: Best of British Bow out as Darren Clarke surges to the top

Royal St. George’s today played host to a demise of the British golfing empire. Perhaps this is only a brief setback to the current trend of British domination in the sport, but it was a very disappointing day nonetheless for the British hopes.

Not only did the vast majority of home hopes fail to make a charge up the leader board, they actually fell back. Not only did they fall back, they collapsed in a heap.

Concerns mount as to Westwood and Donald's lack of a major victory

Hopes were high amongst British golf fans that world numbers one and two, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, would come to the fore this week and land their first major. Having started the day at a score of one-over par they both failed to make the cut.

Sadly these two were not the only Brits that failed to meet the mark. Major winners Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington also fell below the cut mark, McDowell in particular spiralled out of control on day two. Having started the day at two-under and well in the hunt, G-Mac fell apart ending the day at five-over for the tournament. Another British hope to slip away was Ian Poulter who fell apart whilst failing to back-up an impressive opening round of 69.

Whilst two Irishmen fell by the wayside one went charging to the top. Darren Clarke produced what was one of only a few sub-70 rounds on what was a surprisingly lean day of scoring. He today made it back-to-back rounds of 68 and took the joint lead with Lucas Glover who put together a steady 70. Both men will return tomorrow in the last group out and will be hoping the worst of the conditions have come and gone by the time they step up to the tee. Clarke is in pole position not only for the overall tournament but in terms of British hopes. If he delivers his first career major in his forties come Sunday evening then perhaps the disappointing displays of fellow Brits will be somewhat forgotten.

Clarke finds some magic with the putter to birdie the 18th

Having started the day with major British hopes positioned ominously on the leader board after indifferent opening rounds today was a definite reality check. However, in addition to Clarke there are some remaining British hopes.

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy remains decently placed four back at level-par and would perhaps be on terms with the leaders had his putting reached the standards it did at the US Open. Aside from the lack of chance conversion there does appear to be another worry surrounding his game this week and that is a seeming insistence to not alter his game. Links golf requires a very defined style of play and McIlroy today missed out too many times by playing the sorts of shot we would attempt any other week. In order to drive up the leader board tomorrow I believe he needs to alter his game a little. Wholesale changes are far from necessary, but it does seem that he should be aiming to feed the balls up to the green a little more rather than sending in high bombs at the flags. More often than not he missed out today when taking on these audacious efforts, but some impressive scrambling saw his way to level-par for the tournament.

McIlroy looks to handle the pressure of being a major winner and make a move on Saturday

The top of the leader board is a crowded place going into round three and the likes of McIlroy are still well in touch at four back. The weather this weekend is set to be pretty horrendous by all accounts and this should make for some very interesting scoring. If anybody manages to handle the wild winds and sheets of rain then they will have a fair chance of prospering, even if they are coming into round three at about one or two over par.

Schwartzel smiles away as he moves into contention with one of the rounds of the day

The ones to watch in round three could be Masters champion Charl Schwartzel who impressed with a 67 today and Simon Dyson (my punt for the week) who flattered to deceive today after bagging birdies at the first three holes today. Dyson ended up slipping back from the outright lead to a frustrating level par for the tournament but he is quick around the course and knows full-well how to handle links conditions. Others to keep an eye on are the ever-entertaining Sergio Garcia placed well at level-par and young Tom Lewis who backed up his miracle 65 with a battling 74. The young amateur may have relinquished his status at the top of the standings but his is still in the red and has nothing to lose. It seems unlikely that he could go on to win but stranger things have happened.

Moving day is here and Sandwich must be braced for excitement amongst the predicted awful weather conditions.