Has ‘Bubba golf’ got the legs for world domination?

April 11, 2012

Inspired by Bubba Watson’s brilliance, beautifully encapsulated in that wedge from the pine needles on Augusta’s feared 10th hole en route to winning the Masters on Sunday, I took to the range for a good old clout of the golf ball rather than worrying about a textbook swing.

Ugly noise. Ball darts off right. Left-handed kid receiving a lesson two bays away, who when asked who his favourite player was replies “Bubba Watson”, hits it better with the same club (7 iron).

Try again. Legs and body sway violently. My wrists, better suited for short game artistry (well, escaping from behind trees and the like), bend like rubber while my head is about as stationary as a last-day Masters crowd galloping up the side of the fairway to glimpse a view of the winning putt.

The result of my second shot, or the next 168 balls I hit, is irrelevant. The point is that the unorthodox genius of Watson is unrivalled in the world of golf. Long may it continue.

Any instructor would tell you to ‘Look away now’ as the newly crowned Masters champion larrups another tee shot with his legs moving all over the place or bends a sand wedge into a tricky pin from 170 yards.  No one was averting their eyes on Sunday.

Can it last though? Watson’s first PGA Tour title, in June 2010, was four and a half years in the making after his debut in 2006 and his form has always been sporadic, until this year. So far in 2012 he has chalked up one win at the Masters, three top-fives and a worst finish of tied-18th.

Whether his current run of form can continue for years and years in the same vein as Tiger Woods is a tough question. Less than a year ago Louis Oosthuizen, defeated by Watson in the Masters playoff on Sunday, said to me he simply “wasn’t swinging it well” when I asked him the reasons behind missing the cut at the European Tour’s flagship event, the PGA Championship.

2010 British Open champion Oosthuizen’s swing is considered one of the best in the game and with no evident flaw there is no reason why he shouldn’t be challenging week in week out for titles. But as any golfer knows, sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t.

The quirky 33-year-old Watson is in some ways the new face of golf with his unique style on and off the course. Moments after clinching his first major compatriot Dustin Johnson tweeted: “Congrats to the man with a million shots in his bag.” Quite.

As I write this Watson is busy uploading photos on Twitter of his celebratory limo ride around New York and asking Barack Obama when they are playing a game of basketball at the US President’s home court. Tiger Woods he is not.

“Our game just got a whole lot more interesting,” Johnson wrote on Twitter last month after Woods won his first PGA Tour event since September 2009. It’s now even more interesting thanks to the thriving phenomenon that is ‘Bubba golf’. Just mind the people in nearby bays when trying to replicate his style.

Picture: Bubba Watson of the U.S. watches his shot from the third tee during the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, June 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

One comment

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Bubba does all the things my golf instructor tells me not to do!! When I mentioned this at my golf lesson he gave me a hard stare and said “but he’s Bubba Watson”. I think that about sums it up, definitely a one off.


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