Newsmaker of the Year No. 6: Bubba

By Ryan LavnerDecember 19, 2012, 3:25 pm

Rarely has there been a more eccentric major champion than Bubba Watson – the floppy-haired, 34-year-old left-hander who swings a pink driver, smashes produce on late-night TV, sobs when he wins, posts trick-shot clips on his Twitter, drives the General Lee and stars in music videos in which he unfortunately wears only a pair of overalls.

The phenomenon is known as Bubba Golf.

And the PGA Tour has never witnessed anything like it.

“He is who he is,” close friend Rickie Fowler said earlier this year. “He doesn’t try to be someone else. He doesn’t put an act on. He’s just him. You either like him or you don’t.”

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9 PGA Tour | No. 8 Jim Furyk | No. 7 British Open

Indeed, there is no player in the game quite like Watson, what with his bubble-gum pink driver, homemade swing and on-course antics. On the first tee Friday morning at the Ryder Cup, in one of the most pressurized scenes in sports, Bubba implored spectators to scream, wave flags and stomp on the bleachers as he teed off, results be damned. After his tee ball sailed some 320 yards, he simply returned both hands into his pockets and sauntered off the tee.

That same machismo was on display at The Masters, in his signature moment of 2012. Locked in a taut playoff with Louis Oosthuizen, Watson corkscrewed a gap wedge from 155 yards out of the pine straw on the 10th hole to set up the winning par. So incredible was the shot, it almost made observers forget about the double-eagle 2 that King Louie had recorded only hours earlier. When he knocked in the short putt to win, Watson collapsed into his mother’s arms and bawled.

“I’ve never had a dream go this far,” he would say afterward, “so I can’t say it’s a dream come true.”

Back in Florida, his wife, Angie, tended to their newly adopted son Caleb. The couple had endured a long and frustrating adoption process, one that lasted more than four years. After they were turned away “a couple of times,” Watson said, the call came in late March that they would become parents. Throughout Masters week, Angie texted cellphone photos and videos of the then-six-week-old boy, and in his winner’s press conference Bubba remarked that his greatest task moving forward was not living up to the expectations of being a major champion, but rather changing a dirty diaper for the first time.

“I can’t wait to get back,” he said then, beaming.

Shortly after being fitted for the green jacket, Watson headed to New York City for an appearance with David Letterman. Asked by the funnyman to describe his personal style of play, Bubba quipped: “Pfft – awesome,” which elicited a hearty chuckle from the king of late night. Twice he joined NBC’s Jay Leno for a segment, most famously in October, when Bubba unsheathed his pink driver and began bashing away on fresh produce to the delight of the in-studio audience.

And, yes, we would be remiss if we failed to mention his other viral videos, such as when he and Fowler plunged into a pool in Kiawah Island, or when he set up a mini-golf course on the seats in a private jet, or when he video-bombed reporter Alex Miceli on Golf Channel, or when he ripped full shots out of his rental house on Long Island. Bubba Golf. Embrace the phenomenon.

More so than any silly clip he posts on social-media sites, though, Watson is attractive to the casual fan because of the panache in his homespun game, the myriad shots you see Thursday through Sunday. Despite the recent fervor over the anchored putter, spectators still dig the long ball, and Bubba’s prodigious smashes (average drive: 315.5 yards) remain the longest on Tour. That was one boldfaced reason why Watson enjoyed his most profitable year on Tour in 2012, with more than $4.6 million in earnings, while seeing his profile seemingly expand by the round.

Yes, Bubba Golf appears to have some staying power in this crowded golf landscape.

As he might reply: #urwelcome.

Newsmaker of the Year schedule

No. 10: Stacy Lewis

No. 9: PGA Tour

No. 8: Jim Furyk

No. 7: British Open

No. 6: Bubba Watson

No. 5: Dec. 21

No. 4: Dec. 23

No. 3: Dec. 26

No. 2: Dec. 28

No. 1: Dec. 31

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry