- The Masters
Bubba blubbers over Masters memories
In an interview room at Augusta National that was only three-quarters full on Tuesday morning, Bubba Watson cried because tears come like swallows for the 34-year-old Bagdad native who wept in his mother's arms after winning the 2012 Masters.
Watson cried after he won the 2010 Travelers Championship, the first of his four PGA Tour titles.
On Tuesday, it was his one-year-old adopted son, Caleb, who brought him to tears. Watson cried as he explained that he had wrapped his son in his green jacket.
This was all that he had done with the famous jacket: no wearing it on the hovercraft or across the countryside in the General Lee or displaying it in a YouTube video with the Golf Boys.
Instead, he used his most precious garment to wrap perhaps the most precious thing in his life.
This simple yet powerful act of bonding the personal with the professional captures the spirit and mindset of Watson as he tries to defend his Masters title this week at Augusta National.
He is at once a father, a husband and a golfer with a firm handle on what matters most in his life and how it all works together.
On Sunday, when he could have been grinding with his caddie, Ted Scott, over tournament preparations, he played golf with his wife, Angie, at Augusta National. The former University of Georgia basketball star, who attempted a career in the WNBA before injuries ended that dream, got up and down on the 18th from about 60 yards to shoot a 99.
Seemingly everything that Watson has accomplished in his career has been so that he could have opportunities like this one with his family and friends.
"I don't see that I'm a hero, a great of the game," Watson said Tuesday. "But to myself, I can see that I can see that I can compete at a high level at certain moments. You know, I'm not as consistent as some of the guys, I'm not up there every year, but any moment I have a chance to win."
Watson promised us last year that the fame and the fortune that came with winning in Augusta wouldn't change him. He talks now of charity and giving and the platform that a major championship gives him to do good in the world.
But a year later, we're still talking about that miraculous recovery shot off the pine straws on the second playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen. That spot way off the 10th fairway has become like a tourist attraction here at the mecca of golf.
During his round with wife Angie on Sunday, Watson ran into 1970 Masters champion Billy Casper and his son trying to find the spot. On Monday, Padraig Harrington went there and took a practice swing left-handed.
Bubba enjoys talking about that Easter Sunday a year ago, but he has no plans to attempt the shot again, whether it's for the fun of it or in real competition.
More than anything, the shot gave him more security about his future, a feeling he didn't have when he came to the Masters last year.
"The difference between last year and this year, last year, I didn't know if I would ever be back to the Masters," Watson said. "Now I know for a fact I should be back to the Masters every year unless I do something wrong and they say I did something wrong and I can't come back, so we'll try to keep that on the good side."
Since early last year, Watson has said that he wanted to be a consistent player. He would be a happy man if he could fill his year with top-10s and top-20s. And despite winning the Masters, that mentality hasn't changed.
Coming into Augusta last year, he had three top-5 finishes, including a second at Doral. In 2013, he's had flashes of brilliance, but nothing like the sharpness he showed a year ago in Georgia.
"Obviously my stats probably show that I was better last year," he said. "My mind, my physical, my preparation, is the same. But obviously as we know, golf is a tough game. You can win the week before and then miss the cut the next week.
"So who knows how I'll play. I could miss the cut; I could win. You never know what's going to happen, but if you're a stats guy, you look and say, Bubba is not playing as good as last year."
Bubba wasn't a favorite to win here last year, and he won't be when he tees off Thursday at 10:34 a.m. local time with Ian Poulter and US Amateur champion Steven Fox.
"[Tiger's] playing the best," Watson said of Woods' status as the odds-on favorite. "If you're No. 1 in the world, I think you should be the favorite. It would be kind of weird if he's the underdog and he's No. 1 in the world."
On Tuesday night, Watson will host Woods and other past Masters winners at the Champions Dinner. Watson's not saying what's on the menu, but knowing Bubba, it's going to be something unique to his goofy way of going through life.
Only three players have ever won back-to-back Masters - Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods. Watson believes he can join this illustrious company.
"I would still cry, but it wouldn't shock me," he said. "The way I look at it, I'm going out there and I want to make the cut because first off. I don't want to have to sit around and give somebody the green jacket.
"But at the same time it's hard. But it's about not - like I did last year, not putting pressure on myself, enjoying the moment and just having fun. If I can do that, I see that I have a great shot at it, but there's a lot of guys that are playing really good that [are] trying to take it from me."
Watson might not ever win the green jacket again, but he'll never lose the moment he won it or the time he used it to swaddle baby Caleb.