Bubba Watson has not won a PGA Tour event since the 2012 Masters. He loves the TPC River Highlands golf course and earned his first PGA Tour win at the 2010 Travelers Championship.
He played well, posting 63-67-70 over the first three rounds and took a three-shot lead into the final round Sunday. It seemed the stars were aligned for Watson to pick up his fifth tour win on a course that he likes and is comfortable playing.
It was not meant to be, however.
Earlier in his career, Watson was too hard on himself and everyone around him. When he did not play well, he made life miserable for his wife and caddie.
They held an intervention and told him if he did not relax on the golf course, they were going to dump him. His win last year at the Masters was a result of the kinder, more gentle Watson enjoying the game and his surroundings on the golf course.
The adoption of his son was also in its final stages early in 2012, and fatherhood can have a very sobering affect on a young man.
“Old Bubba” resurfaced at the Travelers Championship Sunday. After dunking his tee shot on the par-three No. 16 into the water fronting the green, he became visibly upset and immediately verbally chastised his caddie, Ted Scott.
His triple-bogey six resulted in finishing at 10 under par for the tournament, missing a playoff with Chris Stroud and eventual winner, Ken Duke.
Watson was still agitated and continued the harangue in his post-round interview.
Co-workers often have disagreements on the job and must find a way to work through them to continue a satisfactory working relationship. Caddies and players are a unique partnership. The player gets the big money and the notoriety. The caddie normally gets the blame.
It is normal for a disagreement between player and caddie to get settled with the caddie getting fired and moving on to another player’s bag the following week.
Watson and his caddie have been friends on and off the golf course for a long time. They have had their share of ups and downs. Each knows what to expect from the other when the going gets tough.
Scott had a shouting match with a fan at the Memorial Tournament earlier this year when a fan made a disparaging remark about his caddying abilities. Watson had to forcibly pull Scott away from the crowd and get him to refocus on the task at hand.
Players do not like to admit their errors on the course. Watson obviously feels his caddie gave him an incorrect yardage. A professional golfer must maintain total confidence in his ability to hit the correct shot under pressure.
Watson is probably just blowing off steam, and he and his caddie will work it out later.
Then again, his caddie may remind Watson that his job should include hitting more range balls. More practice sessions may yield better results than time spent on the Golf Channel, performing in Golf Boy videos or otherwise mugging in front of a camera.
Watson has a good year going with three top 10s and seven top-25 finishes. He has won over $1.3 million this year and is No. 37 in the FedEx Cup rankings.
Great players measure success in wins. No wins for the year is beginning to weigh on Watson’s very limited amount of patience.
Relax, Bubba. The wins will come. You are too talented, and fans want to see you hit monster drives and make miraculous shots to escape from trouble.