Bubba Watson became just the third left hander to win the Masters, moving him to #4 in World Golf rankings, but bigger questions regarding Watson are not this immediate effect. It’s will he be able to win more majors in the coming years, become the future star and face of golf, and if this is the right direction for the sport. What is the right direction?
Gerry Lester Watson Jr. is famous for not taking a single golf lesson in his life. The antithesis to Tiger Woods and everyone else who usually dominates the sport, who usually watches the sport. There’s no delicacy in his game. Happy Gilmore, many compare him to. Maybe it’s because of his style and incredible drive. Being young never hurts, but there seems to be something else, a bit more.
There’s no other Tiger Woods. There’s only one. And it’s to believe will see this kind of domination, or relative domination, in the near future. Even Woods himself often looks like he’s tapped out, no longer a league or two ahead of the rest. He’s going to win more tournaments, maybe even a major. But it doesn’t look like he’ll ever beat Jack Nicklaus. Maybe feeling human is what’s frustrating him so.
Since Tiger Woods won his last major, the 2008 US Open, there have been 14 different champions to 15 tournament. Padraig Harrington won both the Open and the PGA Championship to cap off 2008, but hasn’t won a PGA or European Tour event since. Parity is the name of the game in Golf, and that’s not always a good sign. You always need someone to cheer for and against.
Rory McIlroy seemed like a guy who might emerge, but being the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones didn’t help the Northern Irish golfer, also dating Caroline Wozniacki to add some off-course pressure and exposure doesn’t necessarily guarantee greatness, immediate or long term. He blundered in the Masters, tying with Tiger for 40th.
It’s hard to believe Watson is the next face of Golf because of the deficiencies in his game. Technically, he’s just not as good as many around him, with at least 10 players you can name heading in to each tournament who seem more likely to win over the course of the weekend. He has a great back-story, has the looks, and is young, which is something both the audience and organizers crave. The average viewer during the Masters is over 50. Advertisers want the 18-34 demographic. You need young and spectacular for that, but you also need consistency.
Even Phil Mickelson, one of the most popular players on tour, can’t find that consistency. He’s exciting to watch, but finds more than one way to blow it at times. As much as it’s fun to root for him, Mickelson doesn’t have that perfectionism to put him ahead of the rest for long enough. Not even long enough to win the Masters against a wide open field. The ratings have been up since the emergence of McIlroy and the return of Tiger Woods.
But if Woods continues to swear and kick clubs instead of win tournaments, if McIlroy keeps shattering under huge expectations, I’m not too sure Watson is the one to carry the torch for the young stuff and the sport of Golf in general.