There’s plenty of good news for 2-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
And only a smidgen of bad news.
The good news?
Unlike what the Augusta National powers-that-be did to Tiger Woods a decade ago, there’s no way they can “Bubba-proof” the golf course. To combat Tiger’s length and his ability to chew up the par 5′s, they added an inch to the
rough first cut and even grew a second cut of rough so the great one couldn’t spin the ball on the green once he missed the fairway.
Length was Tiger’s friend back when he could play at a high level.
Watson has length, sure, but he has a couple of attributes the green jacket crew can’t control. He hits the ball higher (and longer) than anyone out there, plus he’s left-handed.
Try as they might, Augusta National won’t be able to change those two things about Bubba Watson.
Because he hits it so high, and can work the ball both ways, no dogleg is too far for him to “cut the corner”.
All you have to do is look at yesterday’s 13th hole, the 530 yard par 5. Watson hit a high cut/block over the trees bordering Rae’s Creek that left him 155 yards to the hole, where he promptly hoisted a sand wedge on the green and two-putted for birdie. No one else in the field could have done that yesterday — or any other day for that matter.
In 2001 when Titleist produced “the new ball”, one of their quests was to reduce the amount of spin the ball could produce. That didn’t do much for the amateur player, because they don’t swing hard enough or compress the ball in a fashion that creates spin. For the professional player, though, the new ball didn’t “work” as easily. While you could still play a draw or fade if you needed to, the movement from right to left (a draw shot for right handers) wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it was with “the old ball”.
It’s not a coincidence that since 2003, a left-handed player has won at Augusta SIX times. Their draw shot is the right handed player’s fade, which generally means the ball hits the green with far less spin than a righty’s draw shot.
Watson can hit every shot in the book, for sure, but his ability to hit the ball high and right-to-left with his driver and then turn it around and hit it high left to right with his irons has him a perennial favorite at Augusta National.
When Tiger won his third Masters in 2002, the folks at Augusta decided to do something about it.
They won’t have that luxury this time around with Bubba Watson. There’s nothing they can do about his extraordinary ability.
That’s the good news.
The bad news?
The kid Watson beat head-to-head yesterday, Jordan Spieth, will win more majors in his career than Watson, and the left-handed already has a two-win head start.
I said this last year and again at the start of the current PGA Tour season. Jordan Spieth is the real deal. He’s the one “young gun” who has come up in the last decade that has the chance to get into major championship “hierarchy” — something in the six (Faldo) to eight (Watson) range.
Spieth will be heard from again this golfing season, you can bet on that.
I’m always looking for a lesson to pass along to my young Calvert Hall golfers and Watson gave them a great one yesterday.
In last night’s interview long after the CBS cameras were off, Watson talked about how he handled the pressure of playing the back nine with the lead.
“I just kept my head down and reminded myself that God gets all the glory. I might get the green jacket, but He gets the glory no matter what happens.”
I love the idea of “keeping my head down”. What that means, essentially, is “I just play the shot in front of me. I don’t worry about anything else. I’m not worried about what my opponent is doing. I don’t look at the scoreboard. I don’t even look at the fans. I just keep my head down and get to the ball and hit it.”
I’ll pass that whole concept along to my Calvert Hall boys at practice today.
“Keep your head down and give God all the glory.”
My Dad passed away eleven years ago today.
I’m just telling you that to remind you that today would be a great day to give your Dad a visit or a phone call and tell him that you love him and thank him for all he did for you.