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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

In the Swing: All hail Bubba

Bubba Watson’s shot imagination is something few others can even dream about matching.

Image: Darron Cummings/AP/Press Association Images

BUBBA WATSON IS a man who polarises opinion with the manner in which he plays the game of golf.

His style is certainly a long way from we might call conventional, but with victory at the Masters on Easter Sunday, there is absolutely no denying that his style has been honed and developed to a point where it is extremely effective.

There were so many examples during the tournament of his ability to play shots that other players could not even imagine playing, but none as striking and as awe-inducing as the shot that ultimately won him the tournament, his second shot on the second playoff hole.

How he managed to hook the ball so severely on such a short shot and then manage to get it to spin up the green would seem to defy all logic.

It took the brains of Isaac Newton to work out gravity, but the challenge is now out there for someone to explain how Bubba Watson seems to be able to pull off shots that very few, if any, other players can.

But that point presents a debate in itself. Can other players actually play such shots but choose not to because of the serious risk involved? Surely it doesn’t make sense that there is only one player out there who has the ability to play the shots Watson does?

Maybe it’s just tradition. Golfing ‘wisdom’ when it comes to teaching and coaching was always that the player should find a swing that can be repeated over and over and over. A swing that is so engrained in the players mind that it can be done with the eyes closed. A movement that is so familiar to the player that it can be carried out even under the most intense pressure.

Bubba Watson embodies none of those values. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hit the ball straight. Sure, he hits plenty of fairways, but he does it by hitting either a monster fade or a slinging hook depending on what he sees in his eye standing on the tee-box.

There is so little convention and consistency to what he does that it seems impossible anybody could teach or be taught how to play golf like Bubba Watson. If he was to bring out a book on how he plays the game, it would be a best seller.

Whatever about the philosophy behind his style, he has proved that he can succeed with it. But the questions now becomes whether he can produce that level of golf on a regular basis. Can he play this well week-in week-out, or will his unpredictable style of play lead to an unpredictable set of results in the future?

After all, his previous record in the Masters wasn’t very inspiring. In three previous appearances, his best finish was tied 20th in 2008. Hardly what you’d consider great course form.

‘Golf Boy’ with a story

Either way, there’s absolutely no doubt that Bubba has quickly developed a strong support and winning the Masters is likely to have increased this significantly.

His golf is only one reason why people like him. He is more than just a golfer, he is a guy with a story.

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In 2010, his father died of cancer and since then he has been very active in creating awareness and support for cancer charities – that explains the pink driver, in case you were wondering. He also recently adopted a son named Caleb and showed powerful emotion when he was asked about it in his post-round interview on Sunday.

In fact, he is known for his emotional outbursts after registering a victory.

YouTube credit: dano609

It makes a fresh change from the often dead-pan and rehearsed clichés that we have become so used to hearing from so many golfers.

He is a guy who also likes to have a bit of fun. Most of you will probably be aware of the “Golf Boys” video he made with Ricky Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane. Maybe a little cringe-worthy, but you can see the funny side.

He’s the sort of guy who you think will thrive of confidence, and the confidence he will have gained from winning at Augusta National is immeasurable.

YouTube credit: bencranegolf

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