It was the wonder shot that propelled him to his first major, but Bubba Watson said on Wednesday he’d try and avoid a repeat at this year’s Masters of the astonishing lob that helped him win at Augusta.
“Hopefully I hit the fairway from now on so I don’t need to practice that shot anymore,” he said of the high hook he hit from the pine straw at the Georgia club’s 10th hole, the second hole in a victorious sudden-death playoff.
Watson’s ball sailed through a gap in the trees and onto the green, rolling to a stop 10 feet from the hole, and helped him defeat South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen minutes later.
The memory was alive in Watson’s comments in a conference call to promote his defence of The Masters at Augusta National, golf’s first major championship of the year, scheduled for April 11-14.
Watson said it might not even have been the most difficult shot he hit that week, recalling a shot from ground trampled down by the gallery at the 17th in the final round of regulation play among several others.
“Obviously the playoff shot was the most important and the most exciting, but the other ones were difficult, just nobody cared what Bubba Watson was doing those other days or other shots,” he said.
Now that the shot has it’s place in championship golf history, Watson seemed happy to let its legend grow.
“I want that to live,” he said.
“That might be my only legacy of winning the Masters, so I want that shot to live, and I want it to grow, and hopefully 20 years from now it’s even tougher and there was bigger trees and was a tougher situation.”
Watson’s defence will mark his fifth appearance in the Masters. Like all first-time major winners he experienced the whirlwind of media and fan interest that follows a victory on one of golf’s biggest stages.
He said he sought out others, including 14-time major champion Tiger Woods and world number one Rory McIlroy to ask how they coped.
“I asked, how do you deal with it, because the first three months to the first six months, your sponsors, media, you get more attention. You’ve got more fans, and so you get away from the game of golf. Golf is the last thing on anybody’s mind. But you still have to keep executing.”
In the end, Watson said, his manager Jens Beck gave him the best advice: Just keep focusing on golf.
“I was Bubba Watson the golfer first before I won, so we have to keep it simple and remember that golf’s first,” Watson said.
“So we told our sponsors, look, I know you want to do things and do this, but you don’t like Bubba if Bubba isn’t playing good, so golf is first, and that’s the one thing we always told ourselves.”
However, Watson was happy to make time for one big event in his life, the arrival of the baby son, Caleb, he and his wife adopted last year at the age of one month.
“I got to focus on other things other than golf, and then it helped me reset, and then I was itching to go back out there and play and compete,” he said.
Since the victory, Watson said he has gone back and watched footage of the Masters final round, viewing it with friends and trying to recall and explain his emotions.
One thing still stands out when Watson watches. “I actually won it.”