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Apr 07

Watson’s Popularity Problem

Bubba Watson Ready to Defend Masters Title Anyway

I really wish they’d stop doing this. It’s elementary school at its finest, and a feeble attempt to stir the pot of PGA drama.  Where teachers of youngsters all over the place work hard to protect the less well-liked on Valentine’s Day and birthdays, the PGA relishes it. This year, once again, the ESPN.com PGA Tour Secret Survey, an anonymous poll among tour players, came out, and Bubba Watson is the apparent loser.

bubba 1 Granted, Bubba Watson is a study in contrasts. He is a talented, long-hitting, pink driver-wielding guy with an overtly Christian outlook, and one of the worst tempers the tour has seen in decades. He’s also the defending champion of the Masters Tournament, which begins again this week. I’m sure that Watson is far more interested in how his game looks for the Thursday starting gun, but the fact that he is the least well-liked player in the field surely does not escape him. According to the poll, “less well-liked” is translated into the person one would be the least likely to help in a street fight.
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ESPN, of course, is not in it for the humanity – it’s just business. That means that you can act like a jerk if you want, just as long as there’s profit in it, and as a corporation, you can diffuse the rank immaturity throughout a host of members, so that no one suffers much at all. No one has to admit it. Making hay out of personal characteristics and foibles of players is nothing new. That’s one of the real reasons the hypsters will miss Tiger Woods if his game deserts him permanently.

Watson has responded in an interesting way, characterizing the results of the poll as helpful in some fashion. He professes to the need of becoming “a better man.” But why? If the spotlight was turned on the “Big Mahoffs” of ESPN and the PGA, how many better men would we find? They’re safe, though – they don’t play golf as well as Bubba Watson. Does he need to become a better man for them?

Other candidates have come and gone in the most disliked category. Watson beat out prime contender, Patrick Reed, by quite a margin. That’s a surprise to many who see Reed as the Dr. Moriarty of the golf crowd. Phil Mickelson seems to lead a double life. Externally, he is almost revered among a large number of fans, but in the past, hasn’t always fared so well in the locker room. Tiger Woods and many others have been lambasted for their dour, humorless behavior on and off the course. Well, ok, not everyone can have the wit and charisma of Lee Trevino. You’re lucky if one of those appears every couple of generations. Mine was really lucky – we had Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Shop www.edwinwattsgolf.comYes, Watson needs to improve himself as an adult human being, as does every other person who plays, watches, or comments on the game of golf. Some do it better than others, but no one has it completely down. One area of possible emphasis in Watson’s case might be in the realm of caddie and fan relations. A bad temper might serve as a reason, but not an excuse.

It is important to add that despite this poll concocted by sport’s adult corporate children, Bubba Watson has friends, more than a few, beginning with Rickie Fowler, who thinks he’s “awesome.” I don’t know if he is or not, but his iron out of Never-Never Land that won him the 2014 Masters certainly was. Based on that, I think I’ll stop paying any attention to grade school-style polls, and watch Watson play golf. As for the rest, either he or life will take care of any problems.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.