Bubba Watson won his first major at the Masters in 2012, and then he played rather terribly for the next 18 months or so. After winning his second Masters by three strokes on Sunday, Watson will be far more successful in the following 18 months.
Beginning the final round tied for the lead at five under with Jordan Spieth, Watson fired a 69 on Sunday to capture his second green jacket at eight under. Have a look at the final leaderboard:
Watson had just two bogeys in the final round in a remarkably poised and consistent day in the face of the pressure that comes with being in the lead Sunday at the Masters. It was a performance so special and unpredictable that it inspired the following comment from CBS' Jim Nantz in the tweet from his colleague, Will Brinson:
Watson put his improbable success in perspective in the quotes captured in the following tweets from Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo and PGA Tour:
Watson has always been a good quote and refreshingly laid back about his thoughts on himself and golf. That hasn't changed since 2012. What is different is that this time he has a more well-rounded and wise perspective. This will help keep him soaring for the remainder of the season.
Let's look back on his struggles before getting into why things will be different this time around.
After winning the Masters in 2012, Watson played 14 events the remainder of the season. He finished in the top 10 in just five of those events while also missing three cuts.
In the year's remaining majors, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open, finished in 23rd at the British Open and then 11th in the PGA Championship.
He wasn't any better in the 2013 season. Watson played in 22 PGA events last season, and he finished in the top 10 just three times. Watson's malaise was understandable. Not only was he dealing with the fame and contentment that comes with a golfer's first major title, but he was also a new, first-time dad.
Watson enjoyed some of the fruits of his parental labors coming off the 18th green on Sunday, which we can see in the below Vine from College Spun:
Through it all, Watson has emerged a more determined and mature golfer for this season, and he wasted no time showing the tour he was ready to be a big factor.
At the start of February, Watson came in second in Phoenix and then won the Northern Trust Open two weeks later. That was his first PGA win since his Masters breakthrough.
In all, Watson has played in 10 events this season, and he's finished in the top 10 in seven of them.
Watson is striking the ball as well as ever, and his putting stroke has found some consistency. Watson hasn't finished a PGA season with a positive number in strokes gained-putting since 2009.
This season, he is currently 50th on tour in that mark at .257.
All of this reflects a new focus and drive from the 35-year-old. Combine that with the fact he has settled into parenthood and is adding a second major, and Watson is poised to keep his strong season rolling.
I won't go as far as to say that Watson will be in contention at the U.S. Open. The national tournament is at Pinehurst No. 2 this year, and the narrow fairways and insane rough that comes with a U.S. Open is not all that conducive to Watson's booming ways.
Watson will have success at plenty of other tournaments, however, and don't be surprised to see him make a run at one of the season's two closing majors.