The right guy won The Masters.
After seeing Bubba Watson’s reaction to winning, it’s impossible to imagine that victory could have meant more to anyone else.
Not since 1995 has a Masters win reduced the new champion to emotional Jell-o. That’s when Ben Crenshaw dropped his putter and buried his face in his hands after his improbable win the week his mentor, Harvey Penick, died.
You could see Crenshaw’s reaction coming; that storyline had been blared all week. But this?
This was Bubba Watson. Good ol’ fun lovin’ Bubba Watson. The same Bubba Watson who told the scribes assembled for his post-Masters press conference, “I don’t play the game for fame. I don’t try to win tournaments for fame. I don’t do any of that.
“It’s just me. I’m just Bubba. I goof around. I joke around. When I’m home, I just goof around and play video games and joke around with my videos and, obviously, do dumb videos for Twitter.
“That’s just me. If I was missing cuts every week, it would still be the same way I act off the golf course. I just want to be me and play golf.”
So when Watson embraced his caddie after sinking his winning putt, and his shoulders began to shake, the logical assumption was that he was laughing.
Surely the joke was on the staid Green Jacket Establishment of Augusta National. Their tradition unlike any other had just been shattered by a guy who’s a YouTube sensation.
That’s right. Watson appeared in overalls, sans shirt, with three fellow pros, as The Golf Boys in a hilarious music video.
This is a guy who, when describing his shot into the 17th green, cracked himself up by using the word “patrons.” Watson said, “I had a little gap to go straight up where the patrons were. First time I’ve used that word, patrons.”
Despite this background, it soon became apparent that Watson was overcome by the moment. He shared a tearful hug with his mother. Then, in a rare scene among professional golfers, he shared hugs with several of his colleagues. There’s no finer tribute than the respect of your peers.
Turns out that Watson had some loved ones on his mind. He and his wife have just adopted a son, after four years of trying. While the chairman was conducting the green jacket ceremony, Watson was thinking about catching a plane home to see Angie and Caleb.
He also thought about his dad, Gerry, who died of throat cancer in October 2010. That was about two months after Watson narrowly missed winning the PGA championship.
And the man who pretends that golf is not his life also realized that he had just won The Masters.
“As an athlete, as a golfer, this is Mecca,” Watson declared at his press conference. “This is what we strive for, to put on the green jacket, to win golf tournaments. As of, I don’t know, less than two years ago, it seems like, I didn’t have a win. Now I’ve got four. My goal, my dream, has always been to have 10 wins. This is a step in that right direction.
“This is what everybody strives to do. No matter how much you want to live your life other ways, this is an honor, a special privilege, to put the green jacket on. I watched as a kid, watched it growing up.
“At the University of Georgia, we talked about this tournament. Played here once a year at the University of Georgia, but I never dreamed about actually winning. And sitting here talking to you guys.
“It’s a special time, a special place, as a golfer, as a fan of the game of golf, as with everything, it’s a special time for me and my family.
“So for me, it’s a dream come true. My dad is not here. I hope he’s watching in heaven. My grandma never got to watch me play professional golf. She used to make all my knickers for me. So when I think about the day, those are the most important things to me.”
It began as anything but a special day for Watson. He three-putted for bogey on the first hole, and then watched his playing partner, Louis Oosthuizen, score an incredible double-eagle on the second. Suddenly, Watson trailed by four shots.
“My caddie just kept saying, ‘There’s a lot of golf. Just keep going, keep going.’ I told him, and my comment was, ‘I’m still in it. Don’t worry. I’m right here.’”
By the time he ended a stretch of four straight birdies on the 16th, he had finally drawn even. And that’s how things stayed until the second playoff hole.
In typical Watson fashion, he drove into the woods on the right, and then hooked a 164-yard 52- degree gap wedge 40 yards to a spot on the green about 10 feet from the pin. As Watson described it, “I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head and somehow I’m here talking to you with a green jacket on!”
Enough to make a grown man cry.