Gerry Lester "Bubba" Watson Jr. (born November 5, 1978) is an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. One of the few left-handed golfers on tour, he is a multiple major champion, having won the Masters Tournament in 2012 and 2014. In February 2015, Watson reached a career-high 2nd place in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Watson is among the longest drivers on the PGA Tour; in 2007 he had an average drive of 315.2 yards (288.2 m) and can hit a ball over 350 yards (320 m), capable of generating a ball speed up to 194 mph (312 km/h).
Watson was born and raised in Bagdad, Florida, near Pensacola. He played on the golf team at Milton High School, which had featured future PGA Tour members Heath Slocum and Boo Weekley just before he attended. Watson played golf for Faulkner State Community College in nearby Baldwin County, Alabama, where he was a junior college All-American. He transferred to the University of Georgia, the defending NCAA champions, and played for the Bulldogs in 2000 and 2001. As a junior, Watson helped lead the Bulldogs to the SEC title in 2000.
Watson turned professional in 2003 and joined the Nationwide Tour where he played until 2005. He finished 21st on the Nationwide Tour's money list in 2005, making him the last player to qualify for the following year's PGA Tour. As a rookie in 2006, he earned $1,019,264 (90th overall) and led the PGA Tour in driving distance at 319.6 yards (292.2 m). His longest drive in professional competition was 442 yards (404 m) on the PGA Tour at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Watson played well at the 2007 U.S. Open. He was in the final group on Saturday after shooting rounds of 70-71 (+1) at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh. Watson was one stroke off the lead after 36 holes but then slipped, shooting 74 (+4) in both the third and fourth rounds; he finished in a tie for fifth.
Watson claimed his first PGA Tour win on June 27, 2010, in Cromwell, Connecticut, at the Travelers Championship on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank. Watson tearfully dedicated the win to his parents, specifically his father who was battling cancer.
Watson was runner-up to Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, falling in the three-hole aggregate playoff that initially included Dustin Johnson, before he incurred a two-stroke penalty on the 72nd hole. Watson led the playoff after a birdie on the first hole, but Kaymer birdied the par-3 second hole to tie, effectively turning the playoff into sudden-death. Watson's second shot found the water hazard and Kaymer bested him by a stroke to win the major championship.
Watson had his own clothing line called "Bubba Golf" at the former Steve & Barry's. He was invited on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after he sent her a video of a golf trick shot he completed for her birthday.
On January 30, 2011, Watson won his second PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open, finishing one stroke ahead of runner-up Phil Mickelson. Watson picked up his second win of the 2011 season and third career PGA Tour title on May 1 when he defeated Webb Simpson at the second playoff hole at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Both players birdied the first playoff hole, with Watson holing a 12-footer; he birdied the next hole to win the tournament.
In July 2011, Watson provoked controversy by criticizing the Alstom Open de France on the European Tour, in which he was playing under a sponsor's exemption. He indicated after his first round that he would not be playing any further events on the European Tour, and complained after his second round about security and organization at the tournament.
Watson took part in the Long Drive Contest for charity at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions alongside Dustin Johnson and Robert Garrigus. He finished in second place, with a longest drive of 370 yards (338 m) behind a drive of over 400 yards (366 m) by Jamie Sadlowski.
Watson began the year with three top-5 finishes in seven events, including finishing second at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Watson's first major championship win came at the 2012 Masters Tournament. He began the final round at six-under-par, three strokes off the lead, held by Peter Hanson. On the back nine, Watson bogeyed the par-3 12th hole to return to even par for the round. He then recorded four consecutive birdies for a round of 68 (-4) and tied for the 72-hole lead with fourth-round playing partner Louis Oosthuizen at ten-under-par. In the sudden-death playoff, Oosthuizen and Watson both made par on the uphill 18th hole. On the next hole, the downhill 10th, both drove their tee shots towards the woods to the right of the hole. Oosthuizen's landed in the rough 220 yards (200 m) away, while Watson's ball landed deep in the woods on pine straw, 164 yards (150 m) from the pin without a clear shot to the green. Watson executed a miraculous recovery shot with 40 yards of hook on his 52-degree gap wedge and stopped the ball within fifteen feet of the hole. Oosthuizen's approach shot landed short of the green, but he chipped past the hole and narrowly missed his lengthy putt for par. Watson trickled his birdie putt a foot past the hole, took his time on the very short par putt, then made it for the emotional victory. The win took him to a world ranking of four, a career-high at the time.
Rest of 2012
Following his Masters win, Watson began to struggle. He missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament and the U.S. Open. A week after the U.S. Open, he finished tied for second at the Travelers Championship. A month later, he played The Open Championship, the third major of the year. While shooting a first round of −3 to tie him at third place, he never advanced much after that, finishing tied for 23rd place. In the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, Watson finished tied for 11th. He finished the year with one win, six top-5 finishes, seven top-10 finishes and three missed cuts.
Watson began the season playing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished tied for fourth place, and reached the quarterfinals in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. In the subsequent World Golf Championship event, the WGC-Cadillac Championship, he began very strong with rounds of 66 and 69, but finished with rounds of 71 and 75 and tied for 18th place.
After finishing tied 14th place in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he returned to the Masters Tournament as the defending champion. Never in contention in the tournament, he finished 50th after a final round of 77. Watson tied for 37th at The Players Championship. On the second major of the year, the U.S. Open, he finished with a solid 71 in the first round, just four shots off the lead, but a second round score of 76 left him out of contention, and he tied for 32nd. At the Travelers Championship he took the lead after a second round of 67, but in the final round, leading by one with three to play, he triple-bogeyed the par-3 16th and finished two shots back in 4th place.
Tying for 30th at the Greenbrier Classic, he then played in the third major of the year, The Open Championship. After two solids rounds of 70 and 73, he shot 77 in the third round, and tied for 32nd.
At the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Watson held the lead for most of the tournament, but he finished runner-up to Kevin Stadler.
Watson earned his fifth career PGA Tour victory—and his first since the 2012 Masters—at the 2014 Northern Trust Open. He shot back-to-back 64s over the weekend to defeat Dustin Johnson by two strokes. The victory raised him to 14 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He followed that win with two more strong finishes—a ninth-place tie in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and a second-place tie in the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Those performances elevated him from 14 to 12 in the world ranking.
Second Masters win
Watson won the 2014 Masters Tournament by three shots, with a score of −8. He entered the final round tied for the lead with 20-year-old Masters rookie Jordan Spieth. Playing together in the final pairing, Spieth birdied the seventh hole for a two-stroke lead over Watson. However, the momentum turned on the par-5 eighth hole. Spieth had a birdie putt, but ended up three-putting for bogey while Watson birdied to pull into a first-place tie. Then, on the ninth hole, Watson birdied again while Spieth bogeyed, and the four-shot swing over two holes gave Watson a lead that he never relinquished in a win over Spieth and Jonas Blixt. With the win, Watson became the 17th player to win the Masters two or more times. The win moved him again to number four in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Watson won the Travelers Championship to move him to third in the Official World Golf Ranking. He garnered his second victory in 2015 by winning the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, besting fellow American Patrick Reed by three strokes.
Prior to the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February, Watson caused a bit of controversy after publicly admitting his dislike for the course, TPC Scottsdale. As a result, he was jeered by fans for the majority of the tournament, later criticizing the media for "turning his words around". Two weeks later though, he returned to the winner's circle after winning the Northern Trust Open at Riviera for a second time in three years, seeing off the challenge of Adam Scott and Jason Kokrak to win by one shot on 15-under-par.
Watson was nicknamed by his father after the former professional American football player Bubba Smith. Watson is married to Angela "Angie" Watson (née Ball), a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Canadian whom he met at Georgia while he was on the golf team and she was on the women's basketball team. They were married in September 2004. In 2009, she was diagnosed with an enlarged pituitary gland, which accounts for her height.
Unable to have a child naturally, various family issues, including the illness and death of Watson's father in 2010, kept them from attempting to adopt until 2011–12. In March 2012, one week after a potential adoption fell through at the last moment, Watson and his wife adopted a one-month-old baby boy named Caleb. In late 2014 the Watsons adopted a baby girl.
Watson's father, Gerry Sr., died on October 15, 2010 of throat cancer. His mother is Molly Marie Watson and he has a sister, Melinda Watson Conner.
Watson is also a member of the "Golf Boys", a boy band consisting of Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, and Hunter Mahan. Their single "Oh Oh Oh" is currently on YouTube. The video was produced by Farmers Insurance Group. Farmers donates $1000 to charity for every 100,000 views the video gets.
In 2011, he made a humorous appearance in the song "Michael Jackson" by Christian hip hop artist Andy Mineo on the album Formerly Known. He was featured in the song "Ima Just Do It" by KB, another Christian hip hop artist, on the album Tomorrow We Live. His prototype Golf Cart Hovercraft, the BW1, YouTube video has earned more than 8 million views.
Watson is a committed Christian who speaks openly about the importance of faith in his life. Watson devotes much of his money and time to charity.
Watson purchased the mansion in the Isleworth community of Windermere, Florida, that was previously owned by Tiger Woods. In 2013, he was added to the list of Great Floridians by Governor Rick Scott.
Watson purchased a General Lee car from the television series The Dukes of Hazzard at auction for $110,000 in 2012. Following the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, display of the Confederate flag - which is featured on the car's roof - became the subject of renewed controversy. Watson responded by saying he would paint over the flag with the American flag.
In 2016, Watson moved to Pensacola, Florida and became involved in the business community. He became a part owner of the Minor League Baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos; opened his own candy and ice cream store, Bubba's Sweet Spot; and became part owner of a Chevrolet dealership in nearby Milton, Florida.
Professional wins (11)
PGA Tour wins (9)
|Major championships (2)|
|World Golf Championships (1)|
|Other PGA Tour events (6)|
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||To par||Margin of
|1||Jun 27, 2010||Travelers Championship||65-68-67-66=266||−14||Playoff||Corey Pavin, Scott Verplank||1,080,000|
|2||Jan 30, 2011||Farmers Insurance Open||71-65-69-67=272||−16||1 stroke||Phil Mickelson||1,044,000|
|3||May 1, 2011||Zurich Classic of New Orleans||66-68-70-69=273||−15||Playoff||Webb Simpson||1,152,000|
|4||Apr 8, 2012||Masters Tournament||69-71-70-68=278||−10||Playoff||Louis Oosthuizen||1,440,000|
|5||Feb 16, 2014||Northern Trust Open||70-71-64-64=269||−15||2 strokes||Dustin Johnson||1,206,000|
|6||Apr 13, 2014||Masters Tournament (2)||69-68-74-69=280||−8||3 strokes||Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth||1,620,000|
|7||Nov 9, 2014||WGC-HSBC Champions||71-67-69-70=277||−11||Playoff||Tim Clark||1,400,000|
|8||Jun 28, 2015||Travelers Championship (2)||62-67-68-67=264||−16||Playoff||Paul Casey||1,152,000|
|9||Feb 21, 2016||Northern Trust Open (2)||66-68-67-68=269||−15||1 stroke||Jason Kokrak, Adam Scott||1,224,000|
PGA Tour playoff record (5–1)
|1||2010||Travelers Championship|| Corey Pavin,
|Won with par on second extra hole
Pavin eliminated with par on first hole
|2||2010||PGA Championship||Martin Kaymer||Lost three-hole aggregate playoff:
|3||2011||Zurich Classic of New Orleans||Webb Simpson||Won with birdie on second extra hole|
|4||2012||Masters Tournament||Louis Oosthuizen||Won with par on second extra hole|
|5||2014||WGC-HSBC Champions||Tim Clark||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|6||2015||Travelers Championship||Paul Casey||Won with birdie on second extra hole|
Other wins (2)
- 2008 CVS Caremark Charity Classic (with Camilo Villegas)
- 2015 Hero World Challenge
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner(s)-up|
|2012||Masters Tournament||3 shot deficit||−10 (69-71-70-68=278)||Playoff1||Louis Oosthuizen|
|2014||Masters Tournament (2)||Tied for lead||−8 (69-68-74-69=280)||3 strokes||Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth|
1Defeated Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death playoff: Watson (4-4) and Oosthuizen (4-5).
|The Open Championship||CUT|
|The Open Championship||CUT||T30||T23||T32||CUT||CUT||T39||T27|
CUT = missed the half-way cut
T = tied
|The Open Championship||0||0||0||0||0||1||9||5|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 6 (2010 PGA – 2012 Masters)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (four times)
World Golf Championships
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin of
|2014||WGC-HSBC Champions||3 shot deficit||−11 (71-67-69-70=277)||Playoff||Tim Clark|
Results not in chronological order prior to 2015.
DNP = Did not play
QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = tied
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.
U.S. national team appearances
- Ryder Cup: 2010, 2012, 2014
- Presidents Cup: 2011 (winners), 2015 (winners)
- Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge (representing PGA Tour): 2007, 2009, 2010 (winners)
- Driver: Ping G (9 degrees)
- 3 Wood: Ping G (14.5 degrees)
- Irons: (2,4-9): Ping S55
- Wedges: Ping Glide (52 degree, 56 degree, and 60 degree)
- Putter: Ping Anser Milled Anser 1
- Ball: Volvik S4 pink, green, and white colors