Was Bubba Watson Given a Free Pass at the Arnold Palmer Invitational?

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 20:  Bubba Watson of the United States watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 20, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

When Bubba Watson withdrew from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational citing allergies after carding an opening-round 83, which included an 11 on the par-five sixth, it appeared to be somewhat of a laughing matter.

Watson’s Tin Cup moment on the sixth hole where he hit three consecutive tee shots into the water made its way around the Internet, and Watson later posted a goofy video he took of Rickie Fowler jumping into a lake behind Watson’s house.

It was all fun and games despite the completely contradictory nature of the entire situation.

Tiger Woods has been given grief several times for withdrawing from tournaments due to injury, even though the legitimacy of those injuries later became evident when Woods was forced to shelve his game for significant periods of time.

Rory McIlroy was seven over par through his first eight holes at the 2013 Honda Classic when he decided to throw in the towel.

McIlroy initially said that his withdraw was due to severe tooth pain, but later stepped back from that position after he felt the full wrath of the fans, media and even other touring pros for the first time in his young professional career.

Yet when Watson completely imploded and then decided to withdraw from one of the most prestigious events on tour due to “allergies,” then miraculously recovered enough to be out horsing around with Fowler later that same day, it was no big deal.

It was just big, old, goofy Bubba being Bubba.

But despite having captured the hearts of casual golf fans with his music videos, hovercraft riding and ability to hit the ball a country mile, close followers of the game know that when the cameras aren’t rolling and things aren’t going Watson’s way, that he is one of the most ornery, rabbit-eared golfers to walk a PGA Tour fairway since Colin Montgomerie.     

So, if you are somehow basing Watson’s free pass on his carefully crafted public image, don’t.

Perhaps Watson was indeed suffering from a debilitating case of the allergies last week that just happened to wane after he left the course and took his camera outside to document Fowler doing backflips into a lake, or perhaps Watson was simply allergic to 83s.

Either way, if you are going to come down on the likes of Woods and McIlroy for their tournament withdraws, there is no way that you can simply overlook Watson walking away from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational after carding an opening-round 83.

This is a type of behavior that, understandably, has not been tolerated for other players and should not be tolerated for Watson either.