No one in world golf compares to Bubba Watson and this year he has a legitimate chance of becoming a three-time Masters winner, joining an illustrious list.
Someone who is so often talked about, both in a positive and at times negative light, Watson in the end lets his golf do the talking and as a two-time Masters winner and 10-time winner overall he certainly knows what it takes to get it done, on the biggest of stages.
Outside of his two wins, Watson’s record is very ordinary, which is strange given how well he plays Augusta the weeks he won.
One win you could put down to a good week, but to come back two years later and pick up the title for a second time suggests he has a liking for this place.
Watson is well known for repeat performances, winning for a third time at Riviera last month, twice at the Travelers and his two wins here suggest he feeds off positive memories and becomes attached to certain courses.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
There are several reasons why 2018 could be the year we see Watson join a group of eight players who have won three of more green jackets.
Firstly the biggest change Watson has made this season is ditching the Volvik golf ball he played with last year. It may not seem a big deal to many, but the pros are often coming out now and speaking of the importance of feeling comfortable with a golf ball and Watson clearly wasn’t comfortable with the brightly-coloured gimmicky ball he was sporting in 2017.
Now playing wit his trusty Titleist ball and in a good place both from a health standpoint as well as mentally, there is every chance we see the Bubba of 2012 and 2014 here.
There have still been some ordinary finishes in 2018 but with a third win at the Genesis and a top-10 in Mexico already under his belt, with the potential for a second win tonight, he looks in perfect shape.
At time of writing Bubba is absolutely dominating Kevin Kisner in the final of the WGC Match Play and he has looked in fine form all week. If he keeps playing the way he has here this week, he will be a huge threat to the favourites at Augusta.
With Watson, it is generally about his mentality, if he feels good his game will follow and he is an absolute magician on the golf course when at his very best.
When defending his first Masters title in 2013 he openly admitted he struggled with the pressures of being the current champion. “I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared to death of the Champions Dinner in 2013, because you’re getting to sit with great champions, young and old, and have dinner with them”
In 2015 though, he was much more comfortable with the idea of defending his title. “This time I know what to expect. Doesn’t mean I’m going to play better, just I know what to expect, I know how to save some energy” Watson said. “I know how things are going to happen in the Champions Dinner now. I know more. That doesn’t mean it’s going to help. It just means that I should be better prepared this time”
This just highlights how much it is about the mental side of the game for Bubba. He is fully aware he still needs to play well, and having less or more attention isn’t necessarily going to effect that, but if he feels more relaxed in himself, it can only be a positive.
Three years removed from his last win at Augusta, all of a sudden the pressure is well and truly off his shoulders and more on those of recent winners such as Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia, and that suits Watson.
After missing the cut for the first time in this event last year, and not finishing higher T37 since that last win in 2014, Watson will no doubt be desperate to make a splash here.
Despite there being a large number of players coming into this year’s Masters in good shape, Watson is clearly very focused right now and in fine recent form himself, which is a dangerous combination for the rest of the field.