LOS ANGELES — Bubba Watson is the kind of guy who opens a candy shop and stops eating sugar.
The kind of guy who gets snubbed for the Ryder Cup team and shows up to make sandwiches.
The kind of guy who protests a long drive competition by hitting an iron.
In the wake of Watson’s third career Genesis Open victory, his unorthodox machinations will again be analyzed and overanalyzed by couch potatoes hoping to give him a couch session. Good luck with that. Trying to figure out Bubba is about as difficult as hitting a 330-yard drive with a 20-yard fade — such an inconceivable concept that he’s about the only one who can pull it off.
This week, Watson again offered plenty of fodder for those attempting to solve his riddle.
Golf is hard, and winning golf tournaments is supposed to require laser-like focus from beginning to end. So, what did Bubba do? He filmed a show with Jay Leno. He hung out with Ellen DeGeneres. He watched a taping of “The Big Bang Theory.” And he played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, comically hoisting up an air ball and getting another shot rejected by Tracy McGrady.
“It gives me something else to do instead of focus on the negative,” Watson said after his 2-stroke victory. “I don’t think about the negative and I get to think about hanging out with cool people, so it made it fun.”
Undoubtedly, this notion will spark further theories over what makes him tick and how he feeds off these things to succeed. He needs distractions. He needs a fun environment. He needs to be loved. He needs attention.
All or some or none of those theories might be true. Just when we think we’re starting to understand him, Bubba takes a hard left turn like one of those booming drives and changes direction.
Four years ago, he revealed that one of his greatest goals in golf was reaching 10 career PGA Tour wins, even suggesting that he might retire upon completion. Which makes it noteworthy that Sunday’s win was indeed the 10th of his career — and he’s not going to retire.
Not now, at least. Not yet.
Retirement has been on his mind a lot, though. Last year, Watson suffered from an undisclosed medical issue. He dropped from 210 pounds to 165 or even less. “I got tired of weighing myself,” he said, “because I was scared to death.”
He quickly followed that comment by insisting the issue wasn’t life-threatening.
“I mean, nothing worse than a paper cut,” he explained. “It was nothing, it is nothing.”
It wasn’t nothing. Whatever it was — and yes, it’s absolutely well within Watson’s rights to not have the world know his medical history — it affected him. The man who already has self-diagnosed ADD and suffers from panic attacks didn’t win any tournaments, posted just three top-10s and missed the cut in three of the four majors.
Bubba Watson joins SportsCenter after clinching his 10th career PGA Tour victory, his first in two years, to talk about why he was so emotional after his final putt and how his family pushed him back into the game of golf.
He also contemplated retirement.
“I was close,” he said. “My wife was not close. My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She’s a lot tougher than I am.”
When asked to elaborate on why retirement was an option, he stated, “I would rather be healthy than play golf, so that’s what I was focusing on. I was focusing on the wrong things. Pitiful me and not how beautiful my life was, things like that. So that’s the short answer for all that. All the emotion and everything.”
He called last year the lowest point in his career, as the two-time Masters champion dropped out of the top 100 in the world ranking.
That helps to explain why he punctuated his tournament-clinching final-hole par with immediate sobbing, tears streaming down his face as he embraced caddie Ted Scott.
There were undeniably observers who wanted to analyze him in that moment, those who believed the reaction stemmed solely from his two-year journey to again reach the winner’s circle. As with most Bubba observations, there was more to his emotion than he’ll ever reveal.
Minutes later, eyes still red from crying, he explained why his 10th victory means so much.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with Bubba Watson,” he said. “We don’t know if I’m ever going to win again, if I’m going to win 100 times, we just don’t know. I cherish this one because it’s my latest and my greatest.”