AUGUSTA — So I set out to write a column Friday on what has happened to Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters winner who failed to make the cut this week after shooting 8-over par in the first two rounds and is 17-over in his last six rounds at Augusta. But what a little post-round interview turned into Friday was Watson saying something he probably shouldn’t have, getting roasted on social media for it and later claiming on Twitter that, really, he was just making a joke.
When I spoke to Watson, I referenced the fact he had lost more than 15 pounds recently and wanted to be certain he felt good physically. Watson said yes. So when I followed with the logical assumption that it was mechanics and/or mental, hoping he would expand on his struggles, it became clear Watson didn’t like that I was trying to probe his issues.
Quote: “Golf is tough. I don’t know if you’ve ever played it. But writing articles is easy. Golf is the hard part.”
I’ve worked in this profession for more than 35 years. I have a pretty good sense for when somebody is joking. Trust me when I tell you: Watson was not joking. But it wasn’t surprising, either. Watson is generally prickly with the media. I chose not to fire back (though I was tempted). In fact, the rest of the interview, while not enlightening, was cordial.
Anyway, word of this exchange outside the clubhouse at Augusta National was witnessed by only a handful of media members but that was enough for it to circulate quickly on social media (not by me). There was a backlash, moving Watson to put out a 34-second video statement on Twitter:
“Hey guys. Bubba Watson here. What I was trying to say is, make a joke, there were 30-mile-an-hour winds, golf is hard. And if Bubba Watson was trying to write an article, that would be very hard. And what I was saying to the reporter is, golf is hard, so if he tried to play golf it would be very tough. Writing an article is a lot easier for him than it is for me. It was a joke. I love all journalists. Obviously I made a bad joke, just like I played bad golf this week.”
About that sentence: “I love all journalists.” Even journalists don’t love all journalists.
Also, his comment, “I don’t know if you’ve ever played (golf). But writing articles is easy.” That’s hardly out of character for Watson. Recall the third round at the Masters last year when he sliced his drive into the woods on No. 10 and he asked a fan to give him some room, as reported by USA Today.
Watson: “Can you back up, you’re really not supposed to be back here.”
Fan: “Neither is your ball.”
Watson: “I don’t know about you but I have two green jackets, thanks for coming.”
Watson clearly is struggling now. It would serve him well to learn how to deal the issues and not just claim later, “I just trying to make a joke.”
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