News & ToursAugust 11, 2015

Bubba Watson participates in Long Drive Contest at PGA Championship, world breathes sigh of relief

HAVEN, Wis. -- Remember Bubba Watson's protest to the PGA Championship's Long Drive Contest last year? OK, you probably don't, because the whole thing was ludicrous and blown out of proportion, but it was a source of controversy at Valhalla, one that's helped fuel the divisive reputation of Watson.

For those that need a refresher, the PGA brought back the Long Drive Contest in 2014 during the Tuesday practice round, with the winner's proceeds going to charity. On Valhalla's par-5 10th, Watson, one of the longest drivers on tour, took out an iron to protest the event, a decision that disappointed fans and raised eyebrows from critics.

Those eyebrows soon turned to head shakes when Watson tried to explain himself.

Related: Why fans love -- and hate -- Bubba Watson

"I don't think we should have a competition like that while we are trying to learn the golf course," said Watson. This was conflicting with his play on the hole the rest of the week, where he took driver off the tee. Watson admitting he was trying to "prove a point" didn't help his cause, either.

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Watson took a lashing from the media for the move and subsequent press conference. Which made for a moment of drama when Watson stepped up to the No. 2 tee at Whistling Straits on Tuesday for the 2015 Long Drive Contest.

The two-time Masters winner must have learned his lesson, as he obliged with the driver on a hole admiringly referred to as "Big Country."

Related: A hole-by-hole look at Whistling Straits

"I guess you could call it that," Watson said after Tuesday's practice round in reference to participating this year. "I didn't hit the fairway. But I gave it my best effort."

Granted, his comments at Firestone last week regarding the event -- "Yes, I'm going to hit it. It made big drama last year for no reason because I stated my opinion. It's sad that my opinion is obviously wrong at everything I do, but, yes, I'm going to hit the tee shot because I understand it means more to do that than worry about my opinion" -- might negate the goodwill from his intention.

But, by God, he hit it. All is right with the world.

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