Balicki: Memories of a young Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson of the United States walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

A number of years ago, before he made his way to the PGA Tour, Bubba Watson was playing the Nationwide Tour’s Rheem Classic at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, Ark.

I happened to be at the event that week, working on a few future feature stories. During a Tuesday practice round, I was roaming the practice putting green, talking to a number of players whom I had gotten to know from their college days. Just as I was making my way across the green, heading back to the media center, I heard, “Hey, Ron.”

I stopped, turned and looked. It was Watson calling out to me.

“Don’t you want to talk to me?” I remember him saying.

I just smiled and answered jokingly, “Why would I want to talk to you?”

His reply, and one I will never forget, was, “Because I’m the best left-handed Bubba from Bagdad, Fla., in the field.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, and with an answer like that I knew I had to stop and talk to him. At the time, his claim to fame was a standout career at the University of Georgia (by way of Faulkner State Community College in Alabama).

I thought about that incident last week as I watched the Masters on television, especially the sudden-death finish at the 10th hole.

And I thought, well, Mr. Watson, you now are the only left-handed Bubba from Bagdad, Fla., to wear a green jacket at Augusta and carry the title of Masters champion.

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