He embraces a flair for the dramatic and exudes a flashy stage presence. So when Bubba Watson won the Masters Tournament last year, the symbol of his victory figured to be on continuous display to anyone and everyone who might ask.
But the Green Jacket rarely adorned Watson’s broad shoulders. Instead, he tucked it in the closet at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home – always ensconced in its garment bag. He would occasionally peek at it hanging there, still humbled by the fact that it was even in his possession.
“None of my friends have seen it. None of my friends have taken photos of it,” Watson said on Wednesday during his pre-Tournament teleconference.
“I put it in the back. I know it's there just because I don't want anybody to steal that thing, but I know it's there. But no, I don't look at it, I don't ever see it. I can see the corner of it because it's with my jackets, so I can see the corner of the green garment bag so I know it's there at all times.”
Watson will be wearing his Green Jacket soon enough upon returning to Augusta National in April. He etched himself in Masters lore with an improbable hook shot from deep in the magnolias, beating South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole and sealing his status as a golf folk hero.
Watson hit a 162-yard wedge that he curved an estimated 40 yards onto the green at No. 10 and made par to win his first major title. Watson, though, has no interest in recreating the shot during Masters Practice Rounds. He might have no choice, given his free-swinging, go-for-broke style, but unless he finds himself in the right trees during the Tournament, he plans to keep that moment frozen in history.
“Well, truthfully, obviously I pulled it off once, so I should be able to pull it off again,” Watson said. “No, I want that to live. 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 are bigger trees and a tougher situation. Hopefully, I hit the fairway from now on so I don't need to practice that shot anymore.”
Oosthuizen still marveled at Watson’s shot and the sudden swing in emotion that surged down the 10th fairway. “I had no idea where he was,” Oosthuizen said Wednesday at the Honda Classic. “I didn’t know if he was going to chip out or what. As I walked down there, being a left-hander, I thought he can easily get it close to the green, but obviously didn’t think he was going to get it that close to the pin.”
Only one thing was missing from that epic Sunday finish. A few weeks before his Masters victory, Watson and wife Angie had adopted a 1-month-old son, Caleb. The new family decided it was best that Angie and their son remain at the couple’s then-Orlando, Fla., home.
Caleb, who turned 1 on Feb. 25, and his mother will be at this Tournament.
“I can't wait to get back there, and just to have my son,” Watson said. “Hopefully he's walking by then so he can walk the Par 3 Contest with me. It'll be a blast for our family.
“I thought golf was my life, then I thought when I got married, my wife was my life, and now with a child, now it's my family is my life,” Watson continued. “Having my wife to help raise a child is just a dream come true and a blessing on our end.”
Watson has charted his Masters run-up to begin next week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral. He headed into March with three solid finishes in four 2013 appearances. He tied for fourth at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, followed that with a 15th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and then missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open. Watson opened with two victories in last week’s World Golf Championshps-Accenture Match Play Championship before losing to Jason Day and finishing T9.
Still, as he proved last year, anything can happen when Watson gets hot. Like donning the Green Jacket, which can be found prominently displayed in one spot.
Indeed, Watson’s Web site opens with a simple tribute to his Masters victory: A picture of the big left-hander standing near the clubhouse moments after donning the Green Jacket.
“I never got this far in my dreams …” it reads, followed by a slow, dramatic segue to the next page and Watson beaming proudly along with three career-altering words.
“2012 Masters Champion.”
“It's been sitting in that garment bag,” Watson said of the Green Jacket. “I haven't taken it out. I don't let anybody see it or take pictures of it out of respect for the Tournament and out of respect for the members of Augusta National.”
Asked what he’s reflected on the most during the numerous times he has watched the telecast of the Tournament, Watson doesn’t hesitate.
“Yeah, that I won,” he said. “I actually won it.”