What do you think of when you think about Bubba Watson?
The way he bombs it with the bright pink driver? Maybe the time he showed up to a tournament in the original “General Lee” from The Dukes Of Hazzard, one of his most prized possessions. Then there’s his two “Golf Boys” music videos with Hunter Mahan, Ben Crane and Rickie Fowler. Perhaps you simply remember the way he couldn’t stop crying after his victory at The Masters.
What’s easy to forget is that Watson once was a player known almost as much for his temper on the course as his incredible talent. Unfortunately, on Sunday, that temper seemed to flare up a bit once again.
On the 16th hole of the final round of the Travelers Championship, Watson was in the lead. Then after his tee shot went in the water, he could be heard on the CBS broadcast telling Ted Scott, his longtime caddie, “water. It’s in the water. That club. Yes, the water.”
At the drop zone, Watson sailed his third shot over the green, leaving himself a precarious chip for bogey coming back. He again addressed Scott, saying “you’re telling me that’s the right yardage?”
Whether it was frustration with himself for making some very poor shots or if he actually thought that Scott gave him bad guidance, this is not a good look on one of the biggest fan favorites on the PGA Tour. While the frustration is understandable, Watson has dealt with this in the past and seemed to have gotten beyond it in recent years.
In fact, it took he and Scott nearly parting ways and a serious conversation with his wife for Watson to realize what an impact his attitude had on his game and those around him.
For what it’s worth, though, while I don’t condone Watson’s actions, I understand them. There’s more to this player-caddie dynamic than any of us can possibly understand, and certainly Scott knows Watson well enough to know how to handle this. Watson surely knows how difficult it is to win any golf tournament on this level, and when a momentary panic is caught on national television, it’s a firestorm waiting to happen. There wasn’t any club throwing or anything, just the recognition of a big tournament win slipping away.
Watson seemed to have patched things up with Scott by the time they did their media rounds, with both accepting responsibility for what happened on that hole. I don’t foresee any future issues with this pairing. Even though he wasn’t able to close out the win, the fourth-place finish is still Watson’s best since the season-opening Tournament Of Champions, so clearly they started to get some things right.
Watson is a fiery competitor who wears his heart on his sleeve. Even if it isn’t always pretty, it’s what makes Bubba Watson who he is, and that’s the Bubba we all love to watch.