Loosen your collars, folks, it’s Bubba hot in this space this week.
Welcome back to golf’s Hot Seat, where we have a special Bubba Watson edition. It’s all about Bubba. Here’s our special heat index:
Bubba hot – RBC Heritage tournament officials
With Bubba Watson the hottest commodity in golf, we’re all waiting to see what he does next. Or says next. The quirky left-hander with the big swing and the bigger imagination rocketed to another level of stardom with his Masters’ victory.
Watson isn’t in this week’s field at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C., but he will be the talk there all week long. World No. 1 Luke Donald is there, but he will be overshadowed by the buzz over ‘Bubba golf.’ It’s a phenomenon and every tournament will want to be host to it now. A tournament with Bubba in it is more interesting, more fun, more crazily unpredictable.
Southpaw fever – Phil Mickelson
With one mighty world-rankings leap, Watson isn’t just the top-ranked American in the game. He’s now the top-ranked left-hander in the world.
At No. 4, Watson is five spots ahead of Mickelson, who has held top lefty honors forever, it seems.
With his creative flair, Watson rivals Mickelson in a lot of ways as a shot-maker. A southpaw showdown between these two might initiate the most colorful new rivalry the game could offer, but we’re a long way from that. Mickelson and Watson won’t likely tee it up in the same event again until the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., in three weeks.
Bubba Fever – Steve Elkington
Watson got teary eyed on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” a few times Tuesday in his surprise live appearance, including when he talked about getting a salute from Steve Elkington in a tweet following his Masters’ victory.
Elkington and Bubba Watson had some confrontations on the golf course during the second round of the Zurich Classic in New Orleans four years ago. Watson was upset and believed Elkington was intentionally moving around as he was over shots, and they exchanged harsh words. As this was unfolding, reports circulated that Elkington said he was going to refuse to sign Watson’s scorecard after the round. A PGA Tour official was called to the scoring trailer, and Watson later apologized, saying the matter was resolved.
“Mr. Steve Elkington, I saw he wrote a good tweet about me, that was special,” Watson said Tuesday. “Before that happened, before all that went down in New Orleans, a few tournaments before, he saw me in a situation, and he was talking about young players. He said they don’t care about winning, they just care about money. He looked right at me, and he said, `In two years, you will be selling cars.’ I took that to heart, and it really upset me. In New Orleans, some stuff went down that upset me, and I apologized, and I apologized to him.”
Bubba Fever II – Actor Sean Hayes, country singer Shooter Jennings.
These guys are scheduled to appear with Watson Tuesday night on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.”
Good luck, fellows.
Watson isn’t just entertaining between the ropes of a golf course. He can be a hoot sitting in front of a camera. He’s an American original whose mind just works differently.
Hayes is a veteran comedic actor, winner of an Emmy for his role on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace.” He will play Larry in the new movie release of “The Three Stooges.” That’s perfect, because you could see Watson relishing the role himself. Jennings is a country singer, the son of Waylon Jennings. He has a new CD out titled “Family Man” and a new single titled “The Deed and the Dollar.” That’s also perfect for a night with Watson on the show.
Pink Fever – Paula Creamer
Winning the Masters with his pink Ping G20 driver, Watson trumps Creamer as the best pink-loving player in the game.
Ping, by the way, just announced it will sell 5,000 Ping G20 pink drivers to the public for the first time. The drivers will become available June 1 in golf shops with a portion of the sales going to the “Bubba Long in Pink” charity campaign. Ping already donates $300 to the cause for every drive Watson hits that is longer than 300 yards. Ping reports it has already donated $61,600 to the cause, which benefits Phoenix area charities.
Blackwater River Fever – Bagdad, Fla.
Watson’s little hometown of Bagdad is situated in the Blackwater River region of the Florida panhandle.
“There’s a post office, and that’s about it” Watson once said before his father died. “No red lights. It’s a little piece of heaven, that’s what it is. My parents never had locks on their doors. My dad wants somebody to break into the house, but nobody has. My dad is like Tiger’s dad. He’s a special forces Green Beret, so he doesn't have locks on the doors. He wants somebody to come in. We never had locks on our doors, so I’ve never been afraid of anything.”
Bagdad is famous now, home to a major champion.
Watson is now the leader of a special triumvirate from the Blackwater River region. Boo Weekley, Heath Slocum and Watson all attended Milton High School. While Slocum and Watson were teammates on the golf team, Watson came along five years later. Slocum said when he first saw Bubba play at 10 years old, he thought the kid could help their golf team right then.