124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Angry Golfer: Mouth Of The South

By John Hawkins Illustrations by Leigh Haeger
March 31, 2008

Bubba Watson earned a reputation for being cantankerous almost immediately after joining the PGA Tour in 2006. Fair or not, too many people talk about harsh experiences with Watson for the label to be miles from the truth. I wrote a story on Boo Weekley last spring and thought it would be worthwhile to speak to Bubba, who grew up just a few miles away on the Florida Panhandle.

Boo ain't never said a bad word about anybody, nor did he that morning, but he made it clear Watson wasn't on his Christmas card list. Others haven't been as diplomatic. One veteran wondered aloud how a guy with 64 career starts can carry himself as a player with 15 wins or 15 years in the big leagues.

Watson's profanity-laced dustup with old-school apostle Steve Elkington in New Orleans merely exposed to a TV audience what a lot of tour types have known for a while: The dude doesn't get it. For Watson to berate Elkington -- with a camera crew accompanying the group and his own shoddy play leaving him in a second battle with the cut -- was a tawdry breach of sportsmanship at a level where everyone is trained to unconditionally respect thy neighbor.

Bubba made nice afterward in an interview with NBC, and in a moment of clarity, accepted full blame for the incident. Talk, however, is as cheap as the behavior it fails to defend, which is to say Watson should consider a long talk with the mirror, his toughest opponent. He also might consult Tiger Woods, his frequent partner in early-morning practice rounds, a guy whose greatness doesn't goad him into thinking a tour badge is a license to treat people like trash.

Come to think of it, Bubba, just treat everybody as if they're Woods. Tiger wouldn't meet you at dawn if you weren't someone he wanted to hang out with.