Masters champ Watson still has Augusta hooked

Bubba Watson during practice for the 2013 Masters in Augusta, Ga.

Bubba Watson during practice for the 2013 Masters in Augusta, Ga.

— They used to say the golfy likes of Ben Crenshaw and Nancy Lopez would cry if a new Kmart opened in town. Well, Bubba Watson doesn’t need a new Kmart or Walmart or fillin’ station Food Mart to spring up. When it comes to crying in public, at any triggered moment, he makes those two others look emotionless.

So it was Tuesday morning at the Masters. It wasn’t even noon yet and the defending champion already was crying a river at Augusta National. Even though Bubba is a well-known bawler, no one could see this bucket of tears coming based on the question that prompted the gusher: “What is the most interesting thing you did with or in your green jacket?”

Watson then flashed back to his thoughts going to the champion’s interview at Butler Cabin. When informed that he could take home the green jacket he was just handed, he said he planned to wrap his newly adopted son Caleb in it.

Watson broke down, choked up and wiped away tears several times while recounting the story. He rubbed his eyes. He covered his eyes. And he continued haltingly after two extended pauses, one about 20 seconds.

“Out of respect and honor for Augusta National . . . I didn’t do any of my funny antics that I normally would do (with the green jacket),” Watson finally said. “Only thing I did was wrap Caleb up in it.”

With that, he wiped away more tears, managed a smile and cracked, “That ends our press conference.” The line prompted laughter but hardly stopped the Q&A session.

As you might expect, many of the inquiries focused on the wildly successful shot he hit in clinching victory last year on No. 10, the second playoff hole. It goes down as one of the best in golf history, that 162-yard beauty that hooked about 40 yards after being struck with a hooded 52-degree wedge.

“I’m just obviously going to say I’m the only one that can do it,” he said, prompting more laughter. “I’m the only one that had a chance to do it.”

Charming and playful throughout the lengthy interview, Watson informed that, unlike countless others, he will never again attempt to hit that shot from the pine straw to the right of the 10th fairway. Intentionally, anyway.

“Well, unless it’s Thursday through Sunday,” he said jokingly. “I’ve been known to hit it in the trees. But no, I would never do it (on purpose). I have to try to get my name to keep going throughout history, so I don’t want to hit it again. I don’t want anybody to see the bad shots.”

Watson said he has been back to that famous spot in the right trees twice since winning. He was here a couple of weeks ago, playing with his manager, a boyhood friend and a club member.

“We went back there, took pictures of the spot with them,” Watson said. “The next day we didn’t care about the spot anymore, and so we didn’t even look in that direction when we went to No. 10.”

Sunday, Watson played with his wife, Angie, who didn’t attend last year’s Masters because she was caring for their infant son. So he took her over to the spot, though no photographs were taken.

“Then I played with Rickie (Fowler) yesterday, and Rickie didn’t have any interest about going over there,” Watson said, smiling. “Rickie was behind the green (during the playoff), so he told me the story from his viewpoint behind the green.”

Watson’s “spot,” of course, is worthy of being commemorated with a plaque. Such signage also would eliminate guesswork for spectators interested in checking out the precise location.

Or for players, for that matter. Padraig Harrington wondered why there’s no plaque after he checked out the area Monday. He was able to identify the place because the same security guard from last year was working when the Irishman came over and imagined hitting a left-handed shot.

The day before, Watson and wife were coming down 18 when he noticed a couple of people checking things out on 10. Watson couldn’t resist, yelling, “No, that’s not the spot. It’s a little over.”

He would come to find out that the people were Hall of Famer Billy Casper and his son-in-law. And he wouldn’t mind if the most valuable piece of ground in his golf career came with an inscription.

“Who wouldn’t be honored by a plaque?” Watson said. “But obviously if we are going to do a plaque, let’s do mine first. . . . Who wouldn’t want to see a plaque that says 'Bubba' in the middle of the pine straw.”

People laughed again. If it’s not a cry, it’s a laugh. Bubba Watson is that way, dishing emotions that are as varying as some of his shots.

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