Monday, 9 April 2012


Bubba Watson gratefully accepts the green jacket from 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel
Golf seldom fails to unearth surprise winners. Bubba Watson's triumph at the 2012 US Masters on Easter Sunday certainly fitted the criteria. The 33-year-old arrived at Augusta National ranked 16th in the world and tipped as a 40/1 outsider with bookmaker William Hill. He departed as the fourth best player on the planet and the latest addition to the prestigious list of major championship winners.

The unpredictability of modern-day golf is easily justfied. Watson is the eighth straight first-time major champion, and the 14th different winner in the last 14 majors. The pre-Masters favourites, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both finished fifteen shots off the pace on five-over-par while world number one Luke Donald was only two shots better off.

So were there any reasons to genuinely believe that the man from Bagdad, Florida would go onto to claim the much-coveted green jacket? With only three US PGA Tour wins to his name prior to the event (Travelers Championship (June 2010), The Farmers Insurance Open (January 2011) and Zurich Classic of New Orleans (May 2011)) you would have to say no. Nevertheless, his form had been solid going into the first major of the season with the highlights being a second-placed finish at the WGC Cadillac Championship and a tied fourth-placed finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The ball striking prowess of the big-hitting left hander is unparallelled by anyone in the game right now but there have always been question marks about whether he has the temperament to establish himself amongst the elite.

Watson openly admitted his own weaknesses in a post-victory interview with PGATOUR.COM

"A few years ago, I was living the wrong way," he said. "Every golf shot was controlling how mad I got, how I was on the golf course. I was so wrapped up in what everybody else was doing; why is he beating me; why is this; why is that; why can't I make putts; why can't I make the cut; why can't I do this."

It's clear that his mind was focused solely on winning this time round. His second shot on the second play-off hole was nothing short of sensational as he somehow recovered from a wayward drive off the tenth tee. It was the shot which effectively sealed victory over a valiant Louis Oosthuizen and proudly placed him alongside Mike Weir (2003) and Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006 and 2010) as the third left-hander to win the Masters.

Whether or not Watson can push himself beyond the glut of one-time major championship winners remains to be seen. By definition a great golfer is one that wins a major championship and then goes on to do it again. The American has now proven that he has the physical and mental capacity to cope with the relentless pressure of a major championship. The experience he has gained will undoubtedbly prove invaluable but he must have the inherent hunger and desire to take his game to the next level and show the world that his Masters triumph was more than just a flash in the pan. 

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