2012 Masters Tournament

Masters 2012: With Major Victory, Has Bubba Watson Become Golf Star?

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08:  Bubba Watson of the United States gestures after his one-stroke playoff victory to win the 2012 Masters Tournament during the green jacket presentation at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IApril 9, 2012

It is the biggest stage in all of golf and Bubba Watson owned it on Sunday.

Sure, he was not the headline entering the day. That was reserved for a fellow Lefty who had three green jackets already hanging in his closet and appeared destined towards a fourth. Well, until destiny involved an unfortunate ricochet off the grandstand en route to a triple bogey.

When the round began, attention was given to Louis Oosthuizen who made a double eagle to take the lead that he would not give up until the second playoff hole.

Even late in the day, Matt Kuchar was the first person to grab a share of the lead with Oosthuizen before bogeying the 16th and falling short by two shots.

No, Watson was not the headline entering the day, but he found a magnificent way to close. With four birdies down the stretch on the back nine, Watson showed that their was more to his game than a big pink driver and long hair.

Watson had made waves in golf circles before. Always the personality, he was a star in the fake golf boy band "The Golf Boys" alongside Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler. While that group may never win a Grammy, it did forge a connection strong enough for most of the band to reunite after Watson's victory on the second playoff hole this Sunday.

It was not his first brush with a championship, he came tantalizingly close to a major in 2010 with the PGA Championship loss to Martin Kaymer in a playoff.

He won two other times after that defeat, emotional then as he was after taking home the title of Masters champion.

Indeed, Watson has the recipe to be a golf superstar. First of all, with a name like Bubba you are going to get attention.

With his ability to not only hit ridiculously long drives but show that awkward follow through, Watson creates this "Every Man" character for himself.

When he hits 300 yards to the left we can all empathize.

Yet, he is always willing to take risks. His second shot on 10 in the playoff was one few would try.

In fact, the only player on tour willing to make such a crafty shot is another long-haired Southpaw named Mickelson.

In many ways, Watson could be on his way to reaching Mickelson-like celebrity. His big shots, big misses and sporadic putter cannot help but remind us of Mickelson in his 30s.

The audience roared at Augusta to see the shots and magic Watson was able to produce under the pressure cooker known as the Masters. His artistry cannot help but woo viewers.

Still, one major is not going to be enough to maintain celebrity. Just ask Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Lucas Glover, Larry Mize, Steve Jones or Bob Tway among many others.

Winning the Masters is perhaps the biggest achievement for any golfer, but it is no guarantee of prolonged status. Still, with this victory, you see the confidence growing in a budding star.

For a player who once admitted that his focused waned, Watson's jaw was stiffer than Bill Cowher's. He exhibited the poise and precision needed to be a major champion, and he did it against one star-studded field.

If this victory means what Watson hopes it means, it means not only a new major champion but a new face to carry the mantle of golf into the future.

Given how the three biggest names of golf collectively fared this weekend, the more bona fide stars, the better.

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