AUGUSTA - Bubba Watson's 6-iron thread through an Augusta National Golf Club pine forest was high-wire stuff with a 3-shot lead on the 15th hole Sunday at the Masters.
"He's lost his marbles," gasped CBS analyst David Feherty.
Watson was more desperate in 2012 when he hooked a ball around a Carolina cherry tree, a magnolia and a TV tower to reach the green at No. 10 on the second playoff hole. The wedge shot was so theoretically impossible, it became a <URL destination="http:// Science, Being Bubba's caddie means a wild ride ">"Sports Science" feature.
</URL>But just because Watson won two of the last three Masters with artful dodging doesn't mean those were his most amazing shots.
Ted Scott has one of the craziest jobs in sports: Bubba's caddie. He says there is no doubt about Ridiculous Bubba Shot No. 1.
"OK, we were in Memphis," Scott said late Sunday after Watson won his second green jacket by three shots. "I don't know the course that well; we only played it one time. We were missing the cut. We were on the front nine and he needed some motivation. So he likes tennis shoes."
They made a bet. A pair of shoes for Bubba for 3-under-par on the front nine, a pair for Scott for anything worse. The first hole found a tree and 286 yards between Bubba and the hole.
"As soon as he hit it, he goes, 'That's what I'm talking about,'" Scott said. "And I'm like, what are you talking about? I'm getting a pair of shoes."
Surprise. Bubba's ball landed six feet from the hole; Watson putted in for an eagle.
"He birdied a couple more and I lost a pair of shoes," said Scott, who has been with Watson since 2006. "That was the greatest shot I probably have ever seen."
Expect more "Bubba golf" and perhaps another green jacket or two over the next several years on a course splendidly suited for a unique left-handed talent. Scott insists this is a newer, more stable Watson, and Masters results seem to agree.
Less extreme 'Bubba golf'
Watson, 35, held off Jordan Spieth, Jonas Blixt and everyone else over a second nine holes of cruise control Sunday. He made it sound simple.
"I knew once the momentum switched, it was a little bit in my favor," Watson said. "If you have the lead, you always have a little advantage on everybody."
That hasn't always been the case with Watson, or any other golfer except Tiger Woods.
But the present Watson is different than the more extreme boom-or-bust guy that burst into Masters stardom in 2012, and slumped in 2013. His first two years of fatherhood filled the gap, a transition of schedule adjustments worked out by Watson and his wife Angie, a former University of Georgia basketball player. Scott said Watson's favorite Bible verses also help with perspective.
"I can tell you, last year was a rough year with the pressure of trying to prove yourself," said Scott, a 40-year-old from Louisiana. "But this year, his attitude has been great. It's been a lot of fun to work for him this year. I've really enjoyed the good and the bad."
'Are you from Mars?'
"Bubba golf" - Scott's term - still includes breathless sways either way. An example, all in one shot: Watson bombed a 360-yard drive Sunday on No. 13, a par 5. The ball nicked a tree and ended up in the fairway.
"We don't do yardage on that hole," Scott said. "If it's into the wind, he slices it. If it's not, he hammers it. . He doesn't need me on that hole."
Just part of "the freak show," Scott said.
The caddie asked the golfer a question on the 18th tee Sunday after Watson's final drive of the Masters: "Are you from Mars or something? Because I don't believe you can hit these shots that you hit."
Watson, just like in his native Bagdad, Fla., and at Georgia, did most of the talking in Augusta with golf clubs. His rounds were 69-68-74-69.
"(Saturday) when things weren't going well, I was in his ear saying, 'Come on, man.'" Scott said. "And he said, 'I got it, man. I'm fine.'"
Nothing to it, just like Memphis. A brief hiccup on the way to two green jackets.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff