Masters 2014: Bubba Watson – the new Tiger Woods of crazy golf


Augusta National

Augusta National’s heavenly, evil holes have a history of turning the world’s finest golfers stark raving mad. But some people get a head start. Bubba Watson even admits he is as mad as Alice’s Hatter. And they love him here.

There has been a Tiger Woods-shaped hole at Augusta this year and the patrons have been looking for someone to fill it. Watson, the 2012 champion, was the Chosen One. He finished the first round at three-under par and early yesterday morning his congregation gathered on top of the hill by the first tee and off they marched to worship at the Church of Bubba Golf.

Patience is required to keep one’s sanity among the azaleas and roller-coaster greens and patience is not one of Bubba’s strong points. Twitching and gurning and leaning and contorting his body this way and that as he lunges at the ball like a caveman attacking a pterodactyl, Watson always looks like he’s on the edge of a nervous breakdown. His do-or-die approach to the game merely accentuates his eccentricity. Watching him is like lighting a firework and stepping back to watch it explode or fizzle out.

After a routine opening par, the fun started on the second tee. He lashed at his ball with his trademark pink flamingo driver. The almighty thwack sounded like a trebuchet being fired. His ball soared into the Augusta sky and landed in the perfect spot to attack the green. But those sneaky Green Jackets had placed the flag just a few steps behind a cavernous bunker. It is called a sucker pin position. You’d have to be daft to take it on. Bubba is daft. He took it on and promptly plopped his ball into the sandy grave. Only a par. A birdie chance for Bubba at the third – missed. Another at the fourth – missed. It was enough to turn a man insane. And that’s what Augusta does.

Watson fidgeted in frustration like he had ants in his pants. But he kept his emotions in check. Six pars in a row. Something had to give.

To the surprise of everyone, it was Luke Donald who blew a fuse first. He beat his heart with his fist and smiled in relief as a slippery par putt found the hole at the sixth. But Augusta got him at the seventh. He took two swipes to escape from the bunker in front of the green and smacked his wedge against his bag in anger. For the mild-mannered Englishman, that was the equivalent of road rage.

Meanwhile, “C’mon Sergio, do something”, came a supportive cry from the galleries behind the sixth tee like Dick Dastardly yelling at Muttley. Garcia duly obliged with a birdie at the seventh. Watson, too, bagged a birdie, his first birdie of the day, after another towering approach to another sucker pin position. It proved the turning point. He dropped his first shot of the tournament at the ninth but it spurred him on into a spectacular back nine. There followed birdies at the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, where he almost had a hole in one. And he has never had a golf lesson in his life. Genius. The tense grimacing of the front nine had been replaced by giddy, goofy grins.

Garcia and Donald finished five over par after two rounds and went in search of a dark room. Watson got a standing ovation after a 68 to be seven under par, and headed to the clubhouse in a shirt that looked like a liquorice allsort.

“I’m trying to get the Green Jacket again,” Watson said. “When I had it, there’s so much you’re doing when you’re defending champ, my mind can’t handle it. It was just overwhelming. I’m coming back with a different mindset, full of energy.”

At the 78th Masters, Bubba is the new Tiger Woods.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London