On Thursday many people, including me, believed that the 2012 Masters would mark the official return of Tiger Woods.  But by Friday it was pretty clear that a frustrated club-kicking Tiger had no teeth, at least not for this most important major.

Joyous Bubba Watson sheds tears with his mother

Then by Saturday night after Phil Mickelson destroyed the legendary course with a dominating 66, it looked like “Lefty” as he is often called, was well-positioned to win his fourth Green Jacket.

But on Sunday night it was another lefty, named Bubba, who actually captured the fabled jacket.

And in beating Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden death playoff, long-hitting Bubba Watson, who swings a mighty pink driver, may have earned more than just golf’s most prestigious prize, but also a prized place in the hearts of golf fans at Augusta and those watching on TV.

It was refreshing to watch someone else win The Masters this year.  But to be honest I never paid much attention to Bubba Watson before Sunday.

I didn’t know that Bubba, a University of Georgia Bulldog, who often practiced at Augusta, never had formal golf lessons, and no swing coach either. (I am so tired of hearing about swing coaches!)  This was a completely self-taught golfer winning the sport’s most hallowed tournament.

The last unrefined, self-taught golfer that I can recall capturing the imagination of the American public was Lee Trevino more than 40 years ago.  Trevino went on to win 6 majors and become a golf legend.  Maybe that’s Bubba’s future.

The only complaint I have is Bubba Watson’s recent purchase of the General Lee, the Confederate flag draped car that was the centerpiece of the old Dukes of Hazard TV show.  I have no patience for the Confederate flag and what it stands for.  I hope Bubba will someday come to understand the flag’s negative symbolism and get rid of the car or paint over the flag.

But that indiscretion aside and believe me, it’s a major indiscretion, it was good to see a new face atop golf’s most prestigious tournament.

There was no red-shirted golfer pumping his fist at the end of 72 holes on Sunday and that was alright.  But there was a man dressed in all white celebrating instead.  A man who shed a bucket-load of joyful tears, and perhaps heralds the arrival of a new golfing hero.

 

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