Washington – Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson hasn’t let golf stand in the way of life’s simple joys, his roles as husband and father outweighing that of being a major winner.
The fact that he failed to make the cut at last week’s Open Championship is unlikely to trouble the 39-year-old American left-hander, a three-time PGA Tour winner this year.
His focus is less on golfing success than on his family, whom he likes to drive to tournaments in his motor home so wife Angie, son Caleb and daughter Dakota can join him on the journey.
“Having a team that loves me, getting an RV (recreational vehicle), camper, whatever you call it. So our kids now have bunk beds, we love it,” Watson said.
Gerry Lester Watson jnr grew up in the rural south in Florida’s western panhandle and still lives in the area near Pensacola, where he owns an ice-cream shop, a car dealership and a piece of baseball’s minor-league Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
Watson’s high-profile purchases include the former Isleworth mansion of Tiger Woods and the “General Lee” car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show for $ 110 000 in 2012.
Watson won the 2012 and 2014 Masters, his first major title coming in a playoff win over South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen. Two years later, Watson won the green jacket by three strokes from playing partner Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt of Sweden.
His career has had its downturns. He struggled this year with a health issue he has not revealed, but victory at Riviera in February showed his return to form and a March WGC Match-Play triumph proved endurance was not an issue.
“It was a slow start to the year, but I knew I was headed in the right direction,” Watson said.
“Getting trophies is always a pleasure. The goal was always to get the next trophy. So trying to move forward and looking forward to what’s ahead, and hopefully get to the Ryder Cup and play well there.”
Watson is winless in three Ryder Cup appearances ahead of this year’s event in France in September, going 3-8 overall in matches for US teams in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me, would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it,” Watson said.
“You’d rather do it at home, but it would be fun anywhere you can get a victory.”
No US team has won a Ryder Cup in Europe since 1993.
Asked recently where he saw himself in six months, just after the Ryder Cup concludes, Watson put his family first.
“I see myself being an improved father, teaching my kids things now that they’re starting school. My little man is reading bedtime stories to us,” Watson said.
“The golf part, it doesn’t matter. He could care less if I win or lose. He would rather me not play so I could be home playing toys with him.”
Watson has 12 career PGA titles, the most recent coming last month when he took his third Travelers Championship crown.
“My whole dream was to get 10 wins. I didn’t think it was possible to get 10 wins,” Watson said.
“Then I get 10 wins and now I’ve got two more.”
Watson shared eighth at the Rio Olympics and wouldn’t mind another medal chance at Tokyo in 2020.
“It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way,” Watson said.
“I’d love to do it again.”
Family life might end Watson’s career long before his skills fade.
“My motivation is to quit before I keep winning because I want to be there for my family,” Watson said.
“My son asked me in the bunk bed, ‘Dad, when are you going to retire?’ because he wants to spend more time with me.”