Bubba Watson has always been known for doing things his own way, and he’s blazing a new trail as reigning Masters Tournament champion.
From keeping his green jacket largely hidden from public view to shunning the tradition of disclosing details to his Champions Dinner menu, Watson has become the undercover champion.
“I think as Masters champion I should be allowed to just wait to tell everybody,” Watson said when asked about what he’s chosen to serve his fellow champions and Augusta National chairman Billy Payne at the annual dinner.
So whether he’ll bring in some North Carolina barbecue, something scattered, smothered and covered from Waffle House, or just traditional meat and potatoes off the club menu will not be revealed until after the Tuesday night soiree in the Augusta clubhouse. Those people around the world who like to replicate the champions meal as part of their own Masters traditions will have to be patient.
“Yeah, they’ll have to replicate it the day after, I guess,” Watson said.
Secrecy hasn’t been the only idiosyncrasy that Watson has brought to his year in the spotlight. Aside from his immediate media blitz in the two days following his victory last April, Watson has kept the green jacket that’s in his possession for a year largely out of sight.
The only other time he’s taken it out of the garment bag in his closet was to pose for a cover photo for The Augusta Chronicle’s Masters preview section.
“You know, out of respect for the Masters and Augusta National and all their members, I haven’t done anything with the jacket,” Watson said. “I wore it for media day up in New York. They’ve asked me to do a photo shoot, so I wore it one time for a photo shoot for Augusta. And then it’s been in my closet hidden away. None of my friends have seen it. None of my friends have taken photos of it. It’s been in its – what do you call it – the garment bag. They give you a garment bag with 2012 Masters champ on it.
“But it’s been sitting in that garment bag. I haven’t taken it out. I don’t let anybody see it or take pictures of it out of respect for the tournament and out of respect for the members of Augusta National.”
Watson’s actions are in stark contrast to his immediate predecessor, Charl Schwartzel. The 2011 champion from South Africa would personally cook a traditional “braai” with monkey gland sauce for media and friends who wanted to know what he planned to serve his fellow champions. And he never went anywhere in the world for 12 months without his green jacket in tow, and he would gladly take it out for friends at parties or sometimes just take a peek at it in his hotel rooms just to remind himself of the achievement.
Watson marches to his own tune.
“Since we came back to our house here in Scottsdale (Arizona), I haven’t seen it,” he said of the jacket. “I put it in the back (of his closet). I know it’s there just because I don’t want anybody to steal that thing, but I know it’s there. But no, I don’t look at it, I don’t ever see it. I can see the corner of it because it’s like back with my jackets, so I can see the corner of the green garment bag so I know it’s there at all times, but I don’t ever glance at it or anything like that.”
Watson also has no plans to rush down the 10th fairway upon his return to Augusta National and try to recreate the dramatic hook from the woods that won him the Masters on the second playoff hole. Former champions who have won on similarly heroic shots – such as Sandy Lyle and Angel Cabrera – have been known to relive those famous moments over and over in ensuing years.
“Well, truthfully, obviously I pulled it off once, so I should be able to pull it off again,” he said of the 9-iron from 162 yards that he hooked 40 yards left to right out of the tree to within 12 feet of the flag to set up his victory. “No, I want that to live. That might be my only legacy of winning the Masters, so I want that shot to live, and I want it to grow, and hopefully 20 years from now it’s even tougher and there was bigger trees and was a tougher situation.
“So I don’t have any reason to go over there. Hopefully I hit the fairway from now on so I don’t need to practice that shot anymore.”