Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hottest name in golf is just a guy named Bubba

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MASTERS champion Bubba Watson returned home from a media tour in New York two weeks ago and hung his green jacket in the closet.

He hasn't seen it since.

Life has been moving at a faster pace than Watson imagined since he hooked that sand wedge off the pine straw, around the trees and onto the 10th green at Augusta National to win a sudden-death playoff over Louis Oosthuizen and capture his first major.

He and his wife, Angie, adopted a month-old boy named Caleb just two weeks before the Masters. His first act as Masters champion was to cradle the boy the next morning and feed him from the bottle, before leaving the next day for his media tour.

As for changing diapers? That's coming along at a slightly slower pace.

"Not that I have a count, but it's only five I've changed," Watson said. "And they've been easy to change."

So much has changed in one month. A new father. A major champion. And two weeks after trying to let it all soak in, it's time for Watson to get back to work. He is defending his title this week in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic.

If not for the responsibility he feels to defend, Watson would much rather be home.

"We figured out we've had him for a month, and I've been home, I think at the most, nine days, maybe eight days," Watson said. "So it's not enough, not a lot. So it's hard leaving him. It was hard leaving today, but that's the change. That's the excitement of waking up every morning, no matter how tired you are, no matter how red your eyes are, just seeing him pretty much do nothing -- just lay there."

The win at Augusta isn't a distant memory by any stretch.

His clothing company made up a tiny green jacket for his son, which hangs in the closet next to the real one. There have been diagrams that Watson's caddie posted on Twitter illustrating the 40-yard hook of a shot from trees right of the 10th fairway on the second extra hole, which somehow not only landed on the green, but checked up and settled 15 feet away for a par.

Watson might have been the last guy to realize how close his shot was to the flag.

"I was expecting front of the green, maybe centre of the green at best, because you never expect it to be that close," he said. "But it came off and I couldn't see it. I ran to the fairway and I heard them roar, and I said, 'Where is it?' ... So I saw it, and I go, 'Whew, I'm pretty good.' That's how it all went down.

"Those shots ... I try to pull off the amazing shot, just like we've seen Mickelson pull off shots, Tiger pull off shots, everybody that's won you've seen pull off shots like that," he said. "It's something you want to try to pull off, and somehow I did."

His win was popular for several reasons, not the least of which was a guy named Bubba whose approach to golf is similar to so many regular folk. His late father taught him how to grip a golf club and the fundamentals of the swing, and Watson took it from there. He has never had a teacher, preferring to figure it out by himself. He was groomed on public courses and would much rather play golf than beat balls on the practice range or stare into a video to figure out his swing.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2012 C6

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