By Dave Kindred
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The fullest and truest measure of Rory McIlroy's serenity in this time of his ascendance is that he walked five hours in the company of Bubba Watson and didn't hear a thing.
"No, look, I've complained after a lot of shots before and everyone out here moans about something," McIlroy said. "It's just part of it . . . I've been guilty of it before, and a lot of players on tour have done the same thing. But it didn't affect me today, no."
We have heard Tiger f-bombing, and that's one thing, and now we have heard Bubba f-bombing, and that's another thing.
The first item on Bubba's personal website appears under the words, "Who is Bubba Watson." It reports: "Christian. Loves Jesus and loves sharing his faith."
So after the f-bomb episode in Friday's second round of the PGA Championship, I got to wondering which biblical character Bubba may have had in mind.
You think Noah? All that rain.
Or Job? All that suffering.
Wait. Noah and Job existed even before Old Tom Morris. So they never went through Bubba's version of a living hell.
He had to play with raindrops on his driver's face. We all know that is Satan's work, for surely the prince of darkness diverted the raindrops from all other players and caused them to settle only on Bubba's sticks. Raindrops everywhere, all morning, beginning at 6 o'clock and falling even through Bubba's tee time at 8:35. For hours, raindrops kept falling on Bubba's haircut, causing, methinks, reverberations in the vast empty spaces beneath.
Small wonder he felt so damned put-upon.
The poor soul has to hit golf balls for a living. A 35-year-old grown man from the panhandle of Florida could be making a decent living at long-haul trucking. Instead, this torture. Country clubs, chartered jets, chauffeured Mercedes, million-dollar paychecks. And, sometimes, if you can believe it, he has to do it in the rain. To protect himself from the rain, he once held an umbrella and asked his caddie, Ted Scott, to set his ball on a tee.
After a bad drive early in the round, Bubba said to Scott, and television's boom mikes sent it across America, "It don't matter what I do, man. It don't matter. It's f*cking horsesh*t."
Maybe Noah said something like that in about the 37th day of that storm, and maybe Job expressed himself colorfully after lightning killed his livestock. But some readers of the Bible took to Twitter immediately to say they could not find those words in either the New or the Old Testament. Those twitterers were moved to append hashtags such as: "#quityerbitchin," and "#helpbubbajebus."
It's only fair to point out, by the way, that Bubba had birdied his first two holes of the round and was at three under par for the tournament going to his ninth hole, the par-5 18th at Valhalla Golf Club. He was then three shots behind McIlroy, the leader. But after McIlroy rolled in a 31-foot putt for an eagle, Bubba missed a three-footer for par. He bogeyed three of the next six holes, wound up with a 72 and now, at even par, is nine shots down. So maybe he had a competitor's good reason to be upset. After his round, Bubba walked past waiting media members, disappeared into the off-limits caddie hospitality room, and left there by a subterranean route that threw most of us off the trail. Only Jason Sobel, who writes for Golfchannel.com, tracked him down. Not frustrated, Bubba told Sobel. "I feel great," he said.
At worst, this is prima donna horsesh*t. At best, it's Bubba being Bubba. At least afterward Watson acknowledged his poor form with a mea culpa via Twitter.
Sorry for my actions today! Trying to get better as person. Thanks to all who support me. #YallDontGiveUpOnMe— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) August 8, 2014
You may remember his trip to the French Open three years ago. There he complained about the thousands of fans wanting to take his picture as he played. The gall of those Gaulists. He also didn't get Paris.
"I don't know the names of all the things," he said, "the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch, whatever I rode around in a circle [the Arc de Triumphe]. And then what's that -- it starts with an 'L' -- Louvre, something like that, one of those."
Last season on tour, when he dumped a shot into water and cost himself a victory, he threw the caddie Scott under the bus, right there in front of the TV cameras, the boom mikes again catching him in a Bubbableat.
"Water," he said. "It's in the water. That club. So you're telling me that's the right yardage?"
A Google search identifies Bubba as "embarrassing and disrespectful," "petulant" and given to "whining," "pouting" and "baby-boohooing." The kindest of observers calls him "amusingly foolish."
Even before Friday's travails, Bubba had found reason to complain here.
During Tuesday's practice round, the PGA of America asked players to compete in its revived long-drive contest.
Padraig Harrington did a Happy Gilmore run-and-hit-it thing. Great fun.
The big blond John Daly showed up in Loudmouth pants seemingly spray-painted with every pastel ever conceived, both the man and the pants happily hallucinatory.
But Bubba, one of the game's longest hitters, wanted nothing to do with it.
"I'm here to play golf, not to hit it far," he said. "Just kind of weird to me. I'm here to win a championship, I'm not here to goof around."
So he hit an iron off the tee.
And so some of us were well pleased two days later when all that rain fell only on Bubba's head.
Nevertheless, let’s look at Brooks’ statistics and Woods’ numbers heading into their victories in 1996 and 2000. Specifically, wins, driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting. The average of the averages should lead us to today’s average of Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods. Brooks won nothing important and Tiger was in the midst of the greatest stretch of golf in human history. They both hit a lot of fairways and greens, Woods putted great, Brooks was somewhat below average, and Tiger was obviously long, while Brooks, well, wasn’t. (Interesting sidenote: Brooks actually won a major championship while averaging 263 yards off the tee for the year. You know who averages 263 yards off the tee this year on the PGA Tour? No one.)
Look at his numbers: He drives it over 300 yards, he hits 63 percent of the fairways, and he’s hitting almost 71 percent of the greens. He doesn't putt great, but apparently that’s not going to matter, especially since it didn’t for Brooks. He’s got the feel of a Rich Beem, or maybe an Al Geiberger. I could see a Wayne Grady vibe, too, or perhaps a Bobby Nichols sort of feel. It makes no sense, but the PGA Championship clearly has that club in its historical bag. (Shaun Micheel, anyone?)
LOUISVILLE -- The great shots in any tournament's history tend to be the memory makers, but everyone loves a good train wreck, too -- and the PGA Championship has seen its share of doozies. However, not all the missteps have been of the shotmaking variety. Whether brought about by forgetfulness, loose lips, too much bravado or a complete lack of attention to detail, some of the biggest gaffes in the championship's dossier have short-stopped several major dreams.
The Mystery of the Missing Cup
The greatest run in PGA Championship history belongs to Walter Hagen, who captured four straight championships from 1924 through 1927. In fact, he won the Wanamaker Trophy so often he treated it as if it were one of his own possessions. After winning in 1925, Hagen returned to New York and promptly made a critical error in judgment as he handed the trophy to a cab driver with instructions to deliver it to his hotel. It never arrived. When Hagen won in 1926 and 1927, no one noticed its absence. But after Hagen lost in the 1928 quarterfinals to Leo Diegel and had to turn the trophy over to its new owner, he confessed he had lost it. The PGA bought another cup as a replacement. It wasn't until two years later that an unmarked case in a Detroit manufacturing plant that made golf clubs bearing Hagen's name was opened. In it lay the missing trophy.
If you don't have anything nice to say
In the 1949 PGA Championship at Virginia's Hermitage C.C., Jim Ferrier was enjoying a 2-up lead through 20 holes on Sam Snead in their 36-hole semifinal match. Problem was, he was enjoying it a little too much. After Snead's putt for a halve on the 20th hole fell short, Ferrier unwisely cracked, "Sam, the object of the game is to get the ball in the hole." The ill-timed remark put a charge in Snead. The Slammer holed a 60-yard wedge on the next hole, unnerving Ferrier so much that he dumped his tee shot in the water on the 22nd hole. His lead gone, Ferrier struggled the rest of the way, eventually losing 3 and 2. Snead won the title the next day.
The Snowman That Wouldn't Melt
Standing three under par in the middle of the third fairway during the final round of the 1987 PGA Championship at Florida's steamy PGA National, Seve Ballesteros appeared to be a good bet to pick up his first PGA title. Coming up short on his approach to the par 5, Ballesteros was faced with a delicate approach to a tight pin position. Deciding to go for the birdie, he got too cute with the shot and dumped it in the sand. As it turned out, that was only the beginning of his problems. The Spaniard then skulled his sand shot over the green and into a lake. After a drop, Ballesteros chipped onto the green and eventually holed out for a triple-bogey 8. The snowman started Ballesteros toward a final-round 78.
Kenny Perry lost the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla C.C. because he played the first playoff hole like someone who had, well, spent more than a half-an-hour in a TV booth. Upon finishing his round, Perry (above) visited CBS's broadcast team beside the 18th green and watched the action unfold -- a surprise move considering the number of players with a chance to catch him (Steve Elkington, Vijay Singh and Mark Brooks). Told by commentators Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi that he was free to go hit balls, Perry decided to stay. After Brooks made an up-and-down birdie to tie, Perry mistakenly thought he had time to hit some warm-up shots, but instead was ushered straight to the tee of the par-5 18th where he put his tee shot in deep grass on the left and never recovered. Brooks birdied for the win and Perry -- one of the game's best never to win a major -- was left to wonder what might have been. "I thought I would have time," Perry said. "I misjudged that. Maybe I let my mind wander."
Making bogey on the 72nd hole to fall into a three-way tie with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer wasn't the worst thing that happened to Dustin Johnson at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Failing to read a piece of paper with 97 words on it proved to be a much more devastating decision. Those words informed players that there were some 1,200 bunkers on the course and that, "All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked." When Johnson, not realizing he was in a bunker on the 18th hole, grounded his club, it resulted in a one-shot penalty, knocking him out of the playoff. "Perhaps I should have looked at the rules sheet a little harder," said Johnson. Probably so.