Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bubba and the Masters

When Sunday dawned at the Master’s Tournament at Augusta National, I thought the tournament was Phil Mickelson’s to lose.

It was.

He did.

Yes, Phil was Phil. And as he has done so often, he played great golf with a bonehead move.

In fact, he committed the cardinal sin of golf (and life): Don’t make it worse. Get it back in play no matter what.

He did.

He didn’t.

And that triple bogey was too much to overcome.

Turns out it was Bubba Watson’s turn. And he seems like a great guy. There’s something touching about the raw emotion that he showed.

Bubba was Phil and anti-Phil, all at the same time.

Off in the woods on the second playoff hole, he got it back in play, ironically, by playing like Phil. He was in trouble and did what you have to do—get it back in play. And he did it through a huge gamble.

He took a chance on an unlikely shot, and hit a forty yard hook with a pitching wedge off pine needles.

Now, for those who aren’t golfers, that’s a little like … well … okay, it’s not like anything I can think of.

It’s not the kind of shot you practice. It’s the shot you try on the range when you are goofing around with a couple of friends trying the impossible.

I have hit that forty yard hook before. But not intentionally. Not with a wedge. Not off of pine needles. And not for $1.5 million.

And Bubba ended up with two putts to win. And he did.

Back to Phil, I like Phil. I wish he would have won. One thing I like about Phil is that he isn’t a jerk when he doesn’t win. He doesn’t kick clubs, treat fans poorly, and act like he owns the world.

He has a blast, and he isn’t afraid the lose. Which means sometimes he loses when he could have won by playing a little smarter. He has taken a little heat for it, but mostly from people with no wins on the PGA Tour.

My favorite Phil moment was on the first tee at the PGA Tour Championship a few years ago when he was paired with Tiger in the final round (Number 7 here). Phil was introduced with a recitation of his wins. The Tiger was introduced with the same recitation, only it was quite a bit longer. A few tournaments into the recitation, Phil broke in laughing saying, “Alright alright.” And everyone laughed.

But congrats to Bubba. And remember, men, if you are going to play with a pink driver, you better win the Master’s.

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