Bubba Watson leads the PGA Tour in driving distance at 314.77 yards and unleashed a 424-yard drive — the longest this season — last weekend at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, so he was an obvious attraction at Tuesday’s long-drive competition during PGA Championship practice at Valhalla in Louisville.
And then Watson was a complete pill about the whole thing.
One of the players who declined the opportunity was Bubba Watson. The Masters champion is one of the game’s biggest hitters but elected to take an iron off the tee and then launched into a bizarre tirade against the concept in his press conference. Calling the harmless competition “hokey”, Watson got further up on to his high horse saying he hit a three-iron to “prove a point”.
“There’s no reason to make something up in the middle of a practice round like that,” he said. “I don’t think we should have a competition like that while we are trying to learn the golf course.”
The long-drive competition was revived by the PGA of America this year after a nearly three-decade absence, and as Will Gray of GolfChannel.com points out, it wasn’t like Watson was called away from his practice round to participate. “PGA of America officials set up shop Tuesday on the tee at the par-5, 595-yard 10th hole and simply measured the first drive by each player during his practice round,” Gray writes.
It was an odd form of protest for someone who was striving to “learn the golf course,” seeing as how Watson professed afterwards that he was going to hit driver off the 10th tee in all four rounds. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to practice that shot instead of throwing a fit and using a 3-iron, just to prove some sort of point?
Gary Woodland won the event with a 330-yard drive, and the other golfers seemed to have more fun with the event. Per Gray:
Miguel Angel Jimenez coyly told fans that his shot, though not the longest, was the “best” drive they would see all day. Padraig Harrington stole the show when he channeled Happy Gilmore and took a running start before hitting his drive.
But not Watson, who would not dare sully the sanctity of a practice round. The days of the fun-loving, hovercraft-piloting Bubba appear to be over.