DUBLIN, OHIO: It was a profound moment of honesty and clarity from a profoundly simple man.
“I never got this far in my dreams.”
When Bubba Watson uttered those words April 8 after his emotional Masters triumph, he knew how far he had come, but he might have had no idea how far he could go.
In the seven weeks since, Watson, a native of Bagdad, Fla., put on the green jacket after his first major victory, the options have poured in. So many that he said he answers his cell phone only for his manager, and presumably his wife.
Now he dreams not just of victories, but also of building a medical center in Kenya. To benefit that cause, he hosted “Bubba’s Bash,” a Christian rap concert, Monday night in Columbus.
And what does Christian rap sound like?
“Just like other rap, without the beeping or cussing,” he said.
Watson, 33, has won four times on the PGA Tour despite never taking a lesson or having a swing coach. Since Augusta, Bubba golf and his pink driver are cool. He’s become a marketer’s dream and a poor child’s inspiration. All the while remaining as entertaining as ever.
“I’ve always thought about having my own school of golf,” Watson admitted Tuesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where he will tee off Thursday in the Memorial Tournament. “Having the facility, make it up nice and just tell them to hit balls and practice.
“That’s all I’d tell them, then I’d ask for my money,” he joked.
He seems a little worried about money at the moment, but he and wife Angie’s adoption of their 1-year-old son, Caleb, on March 26 might have something to do with that. They are in the process of selling two houses, including their primary residence in Scottsdale, Ariz., and looking for a new one in Orlando, Fla., where they plan to buy in Isleworth, the gated community whose famous residents have included Tiger Woods and Shaquille O’Neal. Caleb is from Florida and residency issues have kept them from finalizing the adoption, a process that started four years ago.
“My check hasn’t cleared yet,” he joked.
The Watsons have a baby monitor with video that they keep turned all the way up. But Watson realizes how lucky he is that Angie always gets up when Caleb is hungry or cranky.
“My wife is very special,” he said. “I go to bed around 11 or 12 and I’ve been waking up at 8:30 or 9. She tells me what he did during the middle of the night.
“It’s a different tired than we’re used to, having a child. My mind works differently, as we know throughout the years, so for me my mind is racing any time you hear noise.”
While he has played in only one tournament since the Masters and even abandoned practice for 2½ weeks, Watson is still adjusting to the Bubba frenzy.
Asked if the people look at him differently, Watson said, “Probably because they didn’t realize how good looking I am now,” he said. “I did my hair the other day, so it’s looking nice.”
In Bubbaspeak, that means he needed a haircut.
“I got my hair did. That’s what we say,” he said.
The language of the Florida Panhandle needed no translation when it came to the one word he must learn to embrace.
“I’ve got a lot more friends than I used to have. Everybody wants something from you,” he said. “?‘Can you help this?’ You’ve got to say no.
“It’s not that you’re being mean. You’ve got to have time for yourself, with your wife, with your child.”
When Watson returned home, the celebration was not elaborate. He received keys to the cities of Milton and Pensacola, Fla. He threw out the first pitch at a game of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. He celebrated at dinner with 20 close friends.
Saying he was “energized” when he arrived at Muirfield, Watson conceded that he enjoys his pre-tournament time in the interview room, an exercise that 14-time major winner Tiger Woods seemed bored with long ago.
“I feel cool up here,” Watson said.
Because of Caleb’s adoption, Watson is caught in a whirlwind unprecedented for a first-time major winner in the era of blogs, texting, Twitter and YouTube. Adding to the challenge is his belief — which Angie reportedly has affirmed — that he has attention deficit disorder, although he has never been clinically diagnosed.
But even as he struggled to remember both halves of a two-part question Tuesday and suggested, “Raise your hand a second time,” Watson had a clear picture of how far he wants to go.
“I play the game of golf because I love it. I’m not trying to change the world by golf,” he said. “I’m trying to change the world by my influence and hopefully [have] a positive impact on a lot of people. Golf just gives me the avenue to do that.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at https://ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.