Is Watson the golf version of the American dream?
Cromwell, CT- Gerry Lester Watson did not have his best day to open the Traveler’s Championship. He finished the first round at even par and left several opportunities on the table. Yet, the man known as Bubba still entertained the crowd in his unique style. He scrambled, fished balls out of roughs, and entertained the assembled crowd with magic shots that only Bubba can pull off.
Two moments from today fill out Watson’s ledger of trick shots. On the third hole, he left the ball deep in the right side rough. While Rory McIlroy, his playing partner, ended in the same spot and missed his intended shot, Bubba hit the green before drilling a 34’9″ putt for a birdie. The very next hole, Watson again drove into the right side rough. And again, Watson escaped to the green and had a chance for another scramble birdie. He did not make the ensuing 12’3″ putt, but he saved par as a result of his unique shot saving ability.
Immediately following, fans watching marveled and noted that they wanted to play like him. I overheard many people praising Rory McIlroy, who had a much better round at -6, only one stroke off the lead, compared to Watson’s even par. But many more people expressed desire to play like Bubba than Rory. Why?
Two reasons. First: Watson is the golf version of the American dream. He’s a self-taught golfer who learned how play with a long drive and entertaining style. He’s led the PGA in driving distance five times in his career and depends on it for wins. Big drives are impressive and an attractive feature of the game. Second, every golfer has gotten into sticky situations on the course. Whether they be in the woods, embedded deep in a sand trap, in in a patch of mud, every golfer has gotten in trouble. Almost every time has resulted in shooting sideways to escape danger. Bubba, has gotten into similar situations. He ended up deep in the woods before drilling a 152 yard shot with 42 yards of hook that essentially won the Masters. He’s gotten into deep trouble and escaped. All golfers want the magical moments that Bubba makes almost routinely.
Unfortunately, the back half of his opening round of the Traveler’s was far from golden. Bubba finished +2 for the back and even par for the day, seven strokes back of the lead. But he’s won this tournament twice, both in playoff fashion. Fans remember and want to see more magical moments from Gerry Lester Watson. And maybe take a little of that magic to their own game.