AVONDALE, La. – Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Bubba Watson is a lucky guy, prepared for the opportunity now in front of him.
Three weeks ago, Watson won the Masters in a sudden-death playoff over Louis Oosthuizen with a shot immediately etched into Augusta National lore.
He was lucky, yes, to have a small window to curl his ball some 40 yards onto the putting surface. He was also well prepared for the situation, as he recalled again Tuesday at the Zurich Classic.
'Where I grew up, the big, tall 100-year-old trees, I had plastic golf balls, so I just learned to hit in the trees, throughout the trees, over the trees, under the trees,' Watson said. 'So when it comes to the creativity on the golf course, that's just who I am. That's just what I've done. So that doesn't scare me. It thrills me because then I can pull off some shots.'
The resulting victory from that shot has given the man from Bagdad, Fla., an opportunity of a lifetime – not only as an everyman champion but to do some good in the world beyond the game.
'Somehow this year, I've just played great. Now I'm Masters champ. But the other stuff is what I really want to be a big impact on and do,' Watson said.
Before he ever fathomed donning the green jacket, Watson kicked off the year with a charitable effort dubbed 'Bubba and Friends Drive to a Million.' The season-long campaign aims to raise a seven-figure sum for a variety of charitable causes.
Club sponsor Ping was already in for $100,000, and clothier Travis Mathew was planning to sell Watson's major championship outfits, too. Now a major winner, more people want to play Bubba golf.
Just as Keegan Bradley was the first to win a major with an anchored putter, Watson was the first to do it with a pink driver. The bubble gum-colored G20 captured the imagination of enough golfers to compel Ping to sell 5,000 of the clubs to raise an additional $250,000 toward Watson's charity. Mathew's clothes will now surely sell out for the other three majors.
Watson and his wife, Angie, are even aiming to open a medical center in Africa.
'That stuff is more important to me, but right now with this platform that I have of winning the Masters, it's going to give me a better chance to raise good dollars for cancer, for the center in Africa and different things like that,' he said.
The life of a newly-minted major winner, however, has its demands. Watson has only been able to see his adopted son, Caleb, for nine days since gaining guardianship the week of Bay Hill.
Perhaps it is the exhaustion of the incessant media jaunt, but Watson feels lucky to have a few minutes to be a diaper-changing father.
'That's the excitement of waking up every morning no matter how tired you are, no matter how red your eyes are, just seeing him pretty much do nothing, just lay there,' he said. 'It's just exciting.'
Watson and his wife had been preparing for that kind of moment for four years, not discouraged by life’s curveballs. The happy couple moved to Arizona. Then it was a Ryder Cup year. Watson's father died, and Angie had a health scare of her own. On Wednesday of Bay Hill week, the wait finally ended.
'This lady was kind enough to grant us our wish and signed off where we could be the guardians. The dad just signed,' Watson said.
The opportunity to walk off the course to a loving, healthy wife and son may be another lucky break. From now on, each week Watson tees it up, there will be ratcheted-up expectations. Watson, however, will walk off the course a proud father and his son's biggest cheerleader.
'As a father, you just want him to excel at something, and whatever that is, whatever their passion is, you just want to support them, be there for them, and hopefully they can grow up and be better than you one day at whatever it is,' he said.
No matter if he wins another major or reaches his goal of finishing in the top 18 of every event this year, Watson appears a man lucky to experience what comes next and blessed for what he has already done.