Bubba Watson will be in search of his third green jacket this weekend. But when he tees off at Augusta National on Thursday he will do so as the most polarising golfer on the PGA Tour.
Watson is currently ranked fourth in the world; when he is playing well, nobody in golf looks to be having so much fun. But when a round is going poorly — when he chooses the wrong club or misses a makeable putt — Watson likewise behaves significantly worse than his fellow golfers.
He has been known to lash out and yell his caddie, or at tournament officials, or even sometimes at fans. Among the many stoic temperaments in professional golf, Watson’s heart-on-his-sleeve attitude stands out, and not always in a good way. Last year in a poll of his peers on tour, Watson was voted the golfer other players would be least likely to help out in a fight. Similar hand-wringing can be found in the media and by plenty of fans.
On Sunday night, in the build-up to The Master’s, 60 Minutes ran a excellent segment on Watson, during which he revealed why he often behaves the way he does. Much of it comes from anxiety, he said.
“I have a lot of mental issues that I just am so fearful of things, which I shouldn’t be, right?” Watson said. “Scared of heights. Scared of buildings falling on me. Scared of the dark. Scared of crowds. Those are my biggest issues.”
“In between holes is really scary to me because there’s so many people that close to you … I’m just scared of people. It’s just — in general.”
They sound like peculiar fears, but then, Watson is nothing if not a little bit weird. He is, after all, famous for never once having taken a golf lesson. He has a wonky swing and a bright pink driver that he routinely smashes well over 300 yards. He is fond of posting goofy videos of himself and his buddies messing around on golf courses, sometimes joyriding his hoverboard golf cart right across a water hazard, other times teeing up a watermelon and swinging away at it.
“Whew, man, he is a mess … but he’s a fun mess, you know?” Ted Scott, Watson’s caddie, said. “I think Bubba is an extremely emotional person, but 95 per cent of the time that’s happiness.”