After the third round of the Zurich Classic this year, Watson was asked what he needed to do on Sunday to win the tournament. His answer, “Just play Bubba Ball,” which is exactly what Watson did. The result was the unorthodox and charismatic golfer’s third PGA Tour win over the past 10 months. Watson’s success during this time period has resulted not only in the golfer doubling his winning since joining the tour in 2006, but becoming one of the top American golfers in the sport.
Currently the leader in the FedEx Cup standings and second only to Luke Donald on the money list, Watson recent success has led to the question: is Bubba becoming the face of American golf and more importantly should the PGA Tour start promoting him as such?
The answer to the first question is simply stated as yes. Watson embodies so many of the characteristics that American golfers can relate to and aspire towards. First off, most American golfers have a fascination with hitting the little white ball of frustration as far as humanly possible. Watson’s self-taught unorthodox swing has helped make him consistently one of the longest drivers of the ball on tour and thus an attraction in itself (much like John Daly or J.B. Holmes). Secondly, whether it’s off the tee or the fairway, Bubba has displayed a reckless gun slinger mentality of “going for it” and seemingly plays the game without fear, showing only a smidgen more restraint than Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy.
But perhaps it is Watson’s imagination and ability to shape his shots that we golf fans find the most captivating. Creating and bending shots left or right to upwards of 60 yards is unlike anything anyone else on tour can do. Even though Watson isn’t historically, the most accurate of shot makers, the fact that Bubba can produce amazing shots doesn’t simple make for great theater on the course…it’s just plain cool. I mean who wouldn’t want a career tour average off the tee of over 311 yards, possess the ability to shape shots to get out of the most difficult of lies, and have one of the most original swings in the history of golf? The only thing better would be hitting 400 yards drives with grandpa’s wooden driver and putting with an Odyssey hockey stick.
Aside from the uniqueness his golf game, Watson is an All-American story. Having grown-up with very little, Bubba has forge his own path through life, achieved success, and is possibly on the verge of greatness. And even though Watson doesn’t want the tour to bank on him as “being their poster child,” the 32-year-old golfer has certainly become a central figure on the tour. Moreover, if his hot streak continues, Watson represents someone who can potentially alleviate some of the promotional pains that the tour has incurred due to Tiger’s mediocrity.
As far as marketing Bubba Watson as a symbol of American golf, this is something that the PGA Tour needs to go forward with. Capitalize on Watson’s hot streak and ride it for all it’s worth. Whether Bubba is a short-term or long-term face of the PGA Tour is entirely up to his performance on the golf course. Nonetheless, Watson offers a unique, positive, dramatic, and captivating presence on the tour and one of the few Americans shining against recent dominating foreign performances in the sport.
So even though golf fans in America might not be able to recreate their own version of “Bubba Ball” while hacking out 18 holes on Sunday mornings, there is currently nothing better than watching Watson execute it on Sunday afternoons.
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