PGA Championship 2022: Bubba Watson flirts with another major as only Bubba can do

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TULSA — When Ted Scott asked Bubba Watson to commit to another ten years as his caddy in the fall of 2021, Bubba Watson couldn’t… not because of Scott, but because of himself.

Bubba recounted earlier this year, “I said, hey, man, I’m 43 years old.” “I have no idea what I’m going to do. My wrist is in excruciating pain. He says he needs another ten years… I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in ten years. I can’t say what I’ll be doing in six months.”

As a result, they split up, with Ted Scott landing on his feet as Scottie Scheffler’s caddy. Bubba remains a dangerous weapon, but he’s 43 years old and hasn’t won a major since the 2018 Travelers Championship. While he’s still a dangerous weapon, he’s also at a point in his career where the next time he competes at a major may be the last.

This is especially true this week at Southern Hills, because Bubba Watson has officially entered the PGA Championship. (Or was. Or is. (To be decided.)

He appeared out of nowhere on Friday with a 63 that could have been worse, and by Saturday, he was in fourth position and chasing down two leaders who had never won on the PGA Tour, never alone in a major. Watson arrived with a gray sweater, khaki slacks (no pleat), and white Ping visor atop the quasi-page boy hairstyle on a gray, windy, and, above all, cold day, greeted by the typical array of stray “Bubba!” yells from the gallery. He’s always angular in person, leaner and taller than you’d think, and he stands ramrod straight. He pulled out the trademark pink driver, raised both hands in a quick touchdown motion to shake loose his sleeves, and blasted his first shot 285 yards into the left side of the fairway, finishing with the open helicopter pose—Ichiro Suzuki lacing one to the opposite field gap—with a quick wave to the crowd.

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It all seemed promising at first. Will Zalatoris was clearly feeling the strain of leading a major ahead of him, while Watson’s playing partner Justin Thomas was all over the place from the outset, shooting a poor 74. Nobody was charging from behind, and only Mito Pereira was keeping his end of the deal at the top, with birdies on Nos. 2 and 5. After a bogey on the third, Bubba hit a 318-yard bomb that he threw 60 yards onto the green and sunk the five-footer for birdie on the short par-4 fourth. As the wind picked up, the course became a little calmer, but just as things seemed to be settling into the same low key that had ruled Thursday and Friday, Watson sparked a big roar on the seventh hole with a 21-foot birdie to claim solo second and six under for the tournament. You could fool yourself into believing the 2022 PGA Championship had become a two-horse race if you clouded your eyes just a little and forgot the wide expanse of time and fate between now and Sunday night.

Bubba Watson plays his second shot on the 13th hole during Saturday’s third round at Southern Hills.
David Cannon
Then Bubba faced the back nine. It happened to Pereira, too, but although the Chilean showed remarkable resiliency after a sequence of four bogeys in five holes, finally recovering to maintain a three-shot lead, Watson was not so fortunate. On the 10th, an inaccurate drive resulted in a bogey, and despite holding off Mother Nature for the next four holes, his only genuine birdie opportunity came on the 13th, when he missed a nine-footer. Meanwhile, most of the candidates found the back nine to be easier, and as Watson sat on the bench, Cameron Young, Matt Fitzpatrick, Seamus Power, Webb Simpson, and even Stewart Cink rushed up from the bottom.

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Watson’s wheels came off right when he needed them to. The 15th hole was the low point, with a second shot from the rough traveling only 54 yards. With a missed four-footer on 16, a costly birdie miss from six feet on 17, and a botched four-footer on 18, he went from five under to two under in four holes, finishing seven strokes behind Pereira and likely denying himself a serious chance to win.

Bubba appeared to be more or less Bubba standing on stage at the Contestant Interview Area after his round. He was full of his typical people idioms—”Yesterday I made them all, and today I missed ’em”—but he was not in the mood to answer age-related questions. When asked if exhaustion had a role in his late misstep, he acted as if he had been asked a completely different question.

He explained, “They opted not to go in.” “They should have gone in. Maybe that’s the issue; perhaps I was stroking them instead of wishing them.”

Watson’s finish on Saturday wasn’t what he’d hoped for, and his three-over 73 dropped him seven off the lead heading into the final round on Sunday.
Ezra Shaw
And when asked if he ever considered winning a major title for the last time, the two-time Masters champion spoke to a second, fictitious interlocutor.

“”I hit a shot out of the trees, you know what I’m saying?” he said of his victories and the two majors he did win. Let’s face it, that was pure luck. I had some skill, but the ball kept coming back to me those weeks. As a result, I don’t take them for granted.”

One thing is certain: he believes he still has a chance to win. He put the ideal number at 63, which was his Friday total, but confessed that he’d need some help from the leaders to get there again. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible.

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Bubba still has magic, and while it has diminished with time and may not appear with the same regularity as it once did, it can strike at any time: a flash of venomous pink on the tee box, a roar when you least expect it booming over a crowded green.

Some FAQ

Is Bubba Watson not well liked?

Watson’s status as the most despised player on tour should serve as a cautionary tale to all golf fans: the personas players present in front of the camera are frequently far from their genuine characters. Phil Mickelson was named one of the world’s most despised athletes by GQ magazine in 2006.

Is Bubba Watson’s wife Canadian?

Angie Ball was born in Toronto, Canada, on June 11, 1977. While Bubba was playing pickup basketball at the University of Georgia, Angie met her future spouse.

What did Bubba Watson suffer from?

It was something down my leg the third time. Watson went on to claim that while his ailment has been diagnosed as acid reflux caused by bad eating habits, he still feels anxiety. Crowds, the dark, and elevators or enclosed spaces are among the things the rising star golfer is “afraid” of.

Why do they call him Bubba Watson?

10 Gerry Lester Watson Junior is his real name, and he was named after his father. His father gave him the nickname Bubba because he thought his kid resembled NFL football player Bubba Smith.

Who is Bubba Watsons wife?

Watson is married to Angela “Angie” Watson (née Ball), a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Canadian whom he met at Georgia while they were both on the golf team. In September of 2004, they married. Her height is due to an oversized pituitary gland, which she was diagnosed with in 2009.

 

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