Armed with a surplus of low, deliberate, chasing fades with the driver and a cornucopia of high, gaudy butter cuts with the irons, Bubba Watson’s golf game has seemingly defied Augusta National. At the beginning of the week, talks of Phil Mickelson’s affinity for the course were echoing through the media rooms. From the looks of the Masters tournaments held the past three seasons though, Bubba’s game may be Phil 2.0, even better equipped to dominate than his left-handed, 3-time champion counterpart.
From a distance, the 2014 edition of “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” seemed to let us down. We’ve grown to be spoiled the past half decade. Adam Scott’s triumph for Australia in the rain, Bubba’s hook from the pine straw and Schwartzel’s four straight closing birdies to fend off a hungry cast of competitors have given Masters’ fans a promise the tournament cannot always keep.
This year, I turned on my television Sunday afternoon to expect four to five names in the hunt, all jockeying for position like desperate stallions. But that wasn’t the case. Aside from a few opening birdies from the ageless Freddie Couples and a brief jolt of energy from the orange jumpsuit Rickie Fowler, it was a two horse race.
Horse number one was a 20-year old from Texas named Jordan Spieth. He was the better story of the two, chasing a green jacket as the potentially the youngest in history to wear it. In his first appearance at Augusta, he meandered throughout the grounds as though he were a cagey veteran. He was impressive all the way around and will have many more opportunities in the future at one of his new favorite courses.
With Bubba’s win this week, Augusta provided golf with its 17th multiple winner of the Masters. The course suits certain players. The field is limited year-to-year sure, with less than 100 players gaining entrance every year, but once the formula for success has been established on the Alister MacKenzie design, players seem able to repeat it. It was Jordan Spieth sharing the amount of advice he’d learned from fellow Texan and two-time green jacket winner Ben Crenshaw. He described the information as invaluable. Bubba Watson has the invaluable.
But aside from the information accrued from 6 appearances at Augusta, Bubba’s game was carbon-molded at birth for success for this course. He talked after the round about the shots which gave him trouble. He had a difficult time thinking of more than 3 shots that didn’t fit his eye. Other than that, he could carve it all over this former tree nursery. And yes, the information of the grounds is invaluable, but Bubba’s talent may be the trump card for it all. And when combining it all, his performance was magnificent.
So at the end of the day, was the 2014 Masters a disappointment? Tiger-less and drama-less late in the day, sure it was both. But disappointing now, I think no. Bubba Watson showed us the way golf can be played, perhaps the way it was meant to be played. He gave the brush back to the artist, resembling the likes of creative legends’ past, Arnie and Seve. Bubba plays the game with imagination and allure. Over time, players lose touch with the fun loving spirit of the game. But a game is exactly what it is. Bubba treats it as such. And again, one of golf’s biggest kids won playing that game on its grandest stage.
And watching that, can never be considered a disappointment.