Monday, April 14, 2014

This Is for Faldo ...

Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy: "This is for Venturi, who thinks I should lay up."

Romeo Posnar: "Yeah, what does he know? He only won this tournament before you were born."

I've compared Bubba Watson to Gandalf and Arnold Palmer before, but, for all those who have seen "Tin Cup", the similarity between Bubba in the 2014 Masters and Roy McAvoy, the fictional range pro from Salome, Texas played by Kevin Costner in the film, was unavoidable.

Much as Tin Cup knew that Ken Venturi, former U.S. Open champion turned television commentator, was advising his viewers that McAvoy should play it safe on the 72nd hole of the tournament, hopefully Bubba was aware of the chatter between David Feherty and Nick Faldo regarding his shot on 15 at the Masters on the final day.

Faldo had spent much of Saturday tut-tutting about Bubba's "nervy" putting, all but flat-out saying that Watson was choking. One got the feeling at the time that Faldo, who's game was tedious and precise (and won him six majors) was relishing what he saw as the anti-Faldo's collapse. Even on Sunday, when Watson seized the tournament on the 8th and 9th holes, Faldo seemed to assume that another meltdown was only a sweeping left-handed hook or missed putt away (and he never did give credit to Bubba that his putting was anything but nervy on Sunday as he one-putted 10 of the first 16 holes).

Feherty meanwhile, who can be wildly entertaining and is not hypercritical, assessed Watson's lie after his drive on 15 left him amongst the pines on the left-hand side of the hole, with water in front of the par 5 to carry and a three shot lead to protect. "He has to lay up," said Feherty more than once. "It's the only smart play," said Faldo, or words to that effect.

Watson, however, had other ideas. His second shot darted through the limbs, crossed the water, and landed behind the green.

It may have truly been the smart play. A lay-up might have left Watson out of position for a third shot over the water. Or he may have been concerned that it would carry all the way to the water.

I prefer, however, to think that, much like McAvoy, Bubba decided to tilt at another windmill and told his caddy Ted Scott "This is for Faldo, who thinks I should lay up." And then, unlike Tin Cup, cleared the water, made par, and won the tournament by three strokes.

What makes the comparison complete? Bubba, in either a knowing nod to Tin Cup or just because he truly is a small-town boy from Bagdad, Florida, celebrated his victory with friends and family at a Waffle House, just like Roy after his record-setting 62 in the second round of the Open.

Bubba's selfie at Waffle House (from @bubbawatson),
"That shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment … or the moment defines you." Roy McAvoy.