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Golf

2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson Sets Standard for Creativity

The pine needles at Augusta National are celebrated as much in death as they are in life. Falling from the towering Georgia Pines that dot the 65 acre layout of the former indigo plantation, they’re an indicator of trouble on a golf course that is full of them. But, occasionally, from the unstable footing they provide, magic happens. Bubba Watson can attest to that.

Every Masters tournament seems to have a signature moment, and there was no doubt from the second Watson ripped that massive hook from a bed of needles and around a leaning magnolia to within 10 feet of the cup on the 10th hole, this shot would certainly qualify. Watson’s shot, which will pepper Masters highlight reels for the remainder of our days, was remarkable in the fact that it was seemingly unremarkable. Just another not-so-simple shot made easy by a not-so-simple player.

Bubba Watson has made a habit out of the extraordinary for a long time, almost to a fault at times, but in winning that celebrated green jacket, nothing Watson could do seemed too extreme — not his pink driver or his long hair or his insane length or even his car, the General Lee. All these things that should be out of place at a place like Augusta National seemed oddly fitting.

At times throughout the course of his career, Bubba Watson was largely misunderstood. He played golf with a surplus of emotion, and he said and did things could certainly be misconstrued for arrogance, but the reality of his character was that Bubba was an all-around good guy. However, his game was significantly more difficult to associate with a something as straight-edged as golf.

Everything Bubba Watson does on the course is loud and seemed hard to understand with a game that is usually so soft-spoken. His plane-crossing swing was big, his temper was big, and his personality was big. Luckily, his talent is big too.

He fought through the difficulties of watching his father lose a devastating battle with cancer. However, with every life-altering event in Bubba Watson’s life, Bubba’s game has thrived. With his father watching on, he broke into the win column in 2010 with an emotional victory at the Travelers Championship.

On Sunday, from that perilous lie on top of the pine straw in the woods that line Camelia, Watson’s chances seemed slim. His whole career has been like that when you really think about it, but it’s not hard to conjure where Bubba’s mind went. It went to his now deceased father and his new adopted son, Caleb. It went to the family that he clearly holds so dearly, and it went to a place where even the pressures of a major championship playoff come as a blessing.

It went to a place where snap-hooking a wedge off the pine straw to within 10 feet of the hole isn’t just possible, it’s expected. Because Bubba Watson doesn’t bother with the ordinary — he IS extraordinary.

And despite all the traditions at Augusta that we’ve come to know and love — the standards and practices that we fawn over — there is always going to be room in The Masters for extraordinary.

Watson drives an orange car and hits a pink driver, but I have a feeling that the only color that was on his mind Sunday evening was green.

Masters green.