For the second time in three years, 37-year-old Bubba Watson won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. The victory marked Watson’s ninth win on the PGA Tour — all since 2010. His growing resume even includes two major championship victories, both at the Master’s Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Surprising to many golf traditionalists, Bubba continues to prove himself to be one of today’s greatest golfers.
Watson has made his career by defying convention. One of the most entertaining golfers on tour, Watson — one of only a handful of lefties — has famously never taken a (formal) golf lesson. He has claimed that he would quit the game before he ever did.
Following technical advancements in the sport, most golfers have approached the game scientifically. But Watson refuses.
”I don’t want a team of people behind me showing me how to swing on computers,” he said. “That’s just not me.”
Watson instead credits his success to his trial and error experimentation in his backyard as a child, where he developed his unique instinctive approach.
Born and raised in the small town of Bagdad in the Florida panhandle, Watson fell in love with the game at a young age and ultimately earned a spot on the University of Georgia golf team before going pro.
Watson has now firmly established himself as a fixture on the Tour, disproving critics who thought his early success was merely a fluke.
“Known for incredible shotmaking, mammoth drives, a hot pink shafted driver and an electric personality, Bubba Watson is a true all-American superstar,” Watson’s website says.
This description is no exaggeration.
Bubba was rocketed to superstardom with one of golf’s most famous shots during his 2012 victory at the Masters Tournament in Augusta.
“Watson was able to hit his ball so that it flew between two rows of spectators, under some trees, up into air, turned right and hooked toward a green about 155 yards away — all while under the intense pressure of a second sudden death playoff hole with opponent Louis Oosthuizen,” Mark Memmott wrote for NPR.
Watson’s shot ultimately saved — and sealed — his first major championship win. Following his victory, he was so overcome with emotion as he won on golf’s grandest stage that he was hardly able to maintain his composure while being interviewed.
“I don’t even know what happened on the back nine,” he said. “[I was] nervous on every shot, every putt. [We] went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I’m here talking to you with a green jacket on.”
While his performance at last weekend’s Northern Trust Open may not have featured a shot as unbelievable as his at Augusta, he ultimately landed atop Sunday’s crowded leaderboard. At fifteen under par for the tournament, Watson outlasted fellow major champions Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, who both finished within two strokes of the lead.
Bubba, with his joyful presence, remarkable talent and unorthodox style, blessed Angelenos with another stellar performance at Riviera. Golf’s most captivating character to date, he again demonstrated his down to earth nature, humble demeanor and, of course, his simultaneously awkward and charismatic persona.