Watson evolves to father and Masters champion

By Jay CoffinApril 9, 2012, 12:39 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bubba Watson is thrilled that he won the Masters. He hopes it earns him two weeks off from changing baby diapers.

Watch out world. Bubba Watson officially has grown up.

In a lot of ways, Watson’s magical Sunday at Augusta National is just another step in his evolution.

It wasn’t too long ago when wife Angie and caddie Ted Scott sat down with Watson to have a heart-to-heart conversation about his actions on the golf course. He was petulant, he was emotional, he was annoying and, frankly, he wasn’t as good as he thought he was. The meeting was an intervention of sorts. Scott threatened to leave the bag.

“I was going the wrong way,” Watson says. “I was so wrapped up in what everybody else was doing.”


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Since that day eight years ago, Watson has tried to be a better person. The plan hasn’t always worked to perfection, but he’s well rounded more today than at any point in his life.

There are many reasons why.

First, he’s older. At 33, Watson has been around the block more than he was in 2003, when he first arrived as an arrogant kid on the PGA Tour.

Second, he’s dealt with issues that have made him more responsible, made him stronger in his Christian faith.

The first curveball life threw at him was 18 months ago when his father Gerry passed away after a nasty bout with throat cancer. Gerry Watson was the reason why Bubba played golf. He was his biggest critic and his biggest fan. The emotion that poured from Bubba’s face after his first PGA Tour victory – the 2010 Travelers Championship – was because he knew his father was in failing health.

Shortly after his father’s death, Angie was diagnosed with having an abnormally sized pituitary gland, a situation that is not a problem now, but was a scare at the time.

Watson won twice on the PGA Tour in 2011 (Farmers Insurance Open and Zurich Classic) and established himself as an American star. But there was still something missing.

Bubba and Angie had always wanted a child but Angie told Bubba on their first date a decade ago that they’d have to adopt if they wanted their dream to become reality.

They started the adoption process four years ago but never got serious about it until this past winter. They were turned down multiple times, the last time coming on Monday of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But a day later the phone rang again; this time it was good news. A family liked the Watson’s profile and wanted them to adopt their newborn son.

Instead of withdrawing from Bay Hill, Watson still played – and, amazingly, tied for fourth place – then drove with Angie to South Florida the following Monday morning to meet baby Caleb for the first time.

“We’ve had a few disappointments over the last six months,” Angie Watson said. “It’s shocking to me, Bubba’s strength throughout the season to play as well as he has because we’ve had so many ups and downs throughout this process.”

Watson had a hiccup a month ago at the WGC-Cadillac Championship when he held a comfortable lead heading into the final round at Doral but shot 74 to lose to Justin Rose. Many questioned Watson’s ability to deal with pressure down the stretch while in contention.

Two weeks after that blunder, though, Watson became father to Caleb, who is now 6-weeks-old.

“He’s grown a lot and he’s not done,” said Johan Elliott, a member of Watson’s management team. “Having Caleb has been a calming factor that’s for sure.”

Angie and Caleb were not at Augusta National Sunday to support Bubba. The family believed that Caleb’s young life had been disrupted enough and that he didn’t need the stress of flying to Georgia to see his daddy.

So Bubba went it alone, using his pink driver and swashbuckling style to shoot a final-round 68 and get into a playoff with 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Watson bogeyed the historic 12th hole in regulation and then responded with a flurry of birdies on Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Rickie Fowler, Aaron Baddeley and Ben Crane came out to watch the playoff and support Watson because they knew his family was not there.

Watson kept his emotions in check and pulled off one of the most imaginative shots in major championship history on the second playoff hole when he couldn’t see the green, but hooked a wedge shot off pine needles from 155 yards to 10 feet. An easy two-putt sealed the green jacket when Oosthuizen couldn’t convert par.

“Being so talented and so emotional in one package and to be able to pull that together is insane,” Elliott said.

What’s insane is that Watson is now a Masters champion, something he never dreamed as a kid because he felt it was unattainable. But it has now happened, and Watson’s evolution is a major reason why he’s been more successful on the golf course.

“It’s a slow process,” Watson says about his attitude and his game. “Been working hard. It’s gotten better. Last year was a little better and this year is better. Hopefully the years to come it gets better and better.”

So far, so good.

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Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”


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After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”

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Woods on busy schedule: 'It's about pacing myself'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

At the beginning of the year, Tiger Woods was anxious to see how his fused back would hold up to tournament play.

Now he’s in the midst of one of his busiest stretches in years.

With the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup likely to be added to his schedule over the next few weeks, Woods could play seven events in a nine-week span.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


“That is a lot of golf,” he said Tuesday at The Northern Trust. “It’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it and make sure my training schedule goes well.

“One of the hardest things this year has been finding the right balance. As the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better. This is a pretty important stretch.”

Woods has already played 14 events – his most since 2013, when he had 16 starts.

He’s committed to playing the first three playoff events, beginning with this week’s event in New Jersey. There’s a week off after the BMW Championship, and at No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Woods doesn’t need to do much to punch his ticket to East Lake. He’s also virtually assured of being a U.S. captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, held in France the week after the Tour Championship.

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Tiger Tracker: The Northern Trust

By Tiger TrackerAugust 21, 2018, 1:00 pm

Tiger Woods begins his FedExCup Playoffs run at this week's Northern Trust. We're tracking him at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.


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Stock Watch: Will Bjorn buy or sell slumping Sergio?

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Sneds (+9%): It doesn’t always happen, a Tour player shooting 59 and then finishing it off with a W, so it was satisfying to watch Brandt Snedeker go wire to wire at the Wyndham. An in-form Sneds now should edge out Kevin Kisner for one of Jim Furyk’s final captain picks.

Viktor Hovland (+6%): Watching the Oklahoma State junior maul the field at the U.S. Amateur, a question arose: How does the fifth-ranked player in the world not win more often? The U.S. Am was just his second title, anywhere, outside of Norway. That could all change, after he proved to himself that he could handle the best field and the stiffest challenge.

Lexi (+4%): She once again was penalized – for playing preferred lies in a different fairway – but Thompson still shot 17 under and tied for 12th in her first start since a self-imposed break to recharge her batteries. In the media tent she was refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a 23-year-old superstar who never went to college and whose life is consumed by golf. Here’s hoping she can find a better balance (like, say, Michelle Wie) over the next few years.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): The world rankings don’t reflect it, but McCumber is playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now. In his past four starts on the Canadian circuit, he’s gone win-win-3rd-win and shot 90 under par with a scoring average of 65.88 and just two rounds higher than 68.

Nick Taylor (+1%): Playing for his Tour card, Taylor shot a bogey-free 63 Sunday at the Wyndham – with an eagle and birdie in his last four holes – to jump from 129th to 119th in the standings. That’s clutch.


FALLING

Billy Hurley III (-1%): A winner two years ago at Tiger’s event, Hurley is now headed back to second stage of Web.com Q-School after finishing 201st in the standings – by a point. A tough break for one of the game’s good dudes.

Kevin Stadler (-2%): He reminded us of the dangers of slamming clubs, after the head of his 7-iron flew off and struck a spectator in the head, requiring stitches. It was a scary scene – “It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood,” said playing partner Shaun Micheel – that could have been even worse.

Sepp Straka (-3%): There were plenty of stories of heartbreak at the Web.com Tour regular-season finale, perhaps none as crushing as Straka, who went 5 over for his last seven holes (including three consecutive bogeys to finish) to drop outside of the top-25 bubble.

Sergio (-4%): At last, some signs of life – his tie for 24th in Greensboro was his best finish on Tour since March – but he still didn’t make the playoffs, and it still might not be enough to sway Thomas Bjorn. For the captain it may come down to a question like this: Who would you rather have in Paris, Sergio or Russell Knox?