The thinking was pure Bubba. He wouldn't look, so he wouldn't cry. He marched those noisy final 100 yards or so up the 18th fairway at the Augusta National Golf Club, everyone standing and cheering for him and him alone as the 2014 Masters was a putt or two away from conclusion on Sunday and he looked at strangers and he looked at God's green grass and he looked at the early evening sky, but he would not look where he wanted to look, the place where he might see familiar faces.
His wife, Angie, and his two-year-old son, Caleb, and his mother and other members of his family and assorted friends were behind the green. He knew that as soon as he saw them he would start blubbering like a 15-year-old schoolgirl. That is his history. He did not want to blubber like a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
"I didn't want to be known as the guy who five-putted and lost the Masters because he was crying," 35-year-old Bubba Watson reported later. "I just wasn't going to look."
No tears. No problem. This was the final piece of Bubba strategy that worked to perfection. He finished off his four-day march though the tournament in grand style with two putts for a final round of 69, good for a three-shot victory over runners-up Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt. Then he looked. Then he saw his family. He saw his son. Then he blubbered like a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
"Yeah, I'm going to cry, because, 'Why me?'" Bubba explained in his press conference. "Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida?" Why is he winning? So I just always ask that question, 'why? Why me?' That's why I'm always going to cry. I'll probably cry again tonight, just thinking about it."
His lessons in post-Masters emotion were learned two years ago when he won the tournament the first time in a playoff with South African Louis Oosthuizen. The idea that he would actually win the Masters was preposterous. The Masters? He reacted then as if a thunderbolt had landed dead center in heart. The green jacket seemed as if had been delivered by angels, magicians, maybe a marching band or two. The Masters? Him?
"When you were a kid, was this what you dreamed about?" Jim Nantz, the breathless interviewer, asked.
"I never got this far in my dreams," Bubba replied, a grand answer.
He cried. He talked into the television to his wife and newly-adopted son. He cried some more.
At the time, it seemed as if he was meant to become golf's newest big thing. There was an American Original quality to him, starting with his name. (His father called him "Bubba," after football player Bubba Smith. His real name is Gerry Lester Watson Jr.) He was a natural, had never taken a lesson, so different from the majority of the professionals on tour who usually have visited a swing coach, short game coach and a sports psychologist most days before breakfast. He twitched a lot, seemed to work on some interior electricity. He just let it rip, this uninhibited, emotional goof.
There was little doubt that he hit the ball further than pretty much everybody else. There also was little doubt that he hit the ball higher than pretty much everybody else. That made him intriguing right there. Further, higher, he also would try just about anything. His bag of shots contained no textbook. Weirdness was part of his approach. A lot of times weirdness seemed to work.
With his buttoned-up golf shirt, a different look right there, with his perfect-posture purposeful stride, with his working class background -- his father worked construction, mother worked two jobs -- and his family and, wait a minute, his readiness to talk about his Christian faith, he seemed ready for some solid Middle America love. Except it never arrived.
The magnitude of what he had done -- the Masters? Me? -- seemed to overwhelm him. He celebrated his good fortune, then celebrated some more. The added demands from sponsors, media, everyone, took hours from his golf. He was a new father. More time. He bought a new house. More time. OK, he bought more than a new house. He bought Tiger Woods' old house, the one where Tiger's marriage fell apart. The house was pretty much gutted and reassembled. Tiger's house was now Bubba's house.
His game fell apart. The Masters turned out to be the only tournament he won in 2012. He won no tournaments in 2013. The grand promise was forgotten. He was another guy on the tour again, a star next to his name, perhaps, for that one major win, but not a lot else. If anything, he made YouTube news for some cranky comments about his caddy, Ted Scott, after a meltdown in Hartford and international news for some comments he made after a meltdown in Europe about, oh, Europe. The meltdowns were bigger than any of his tournament results.
"There was a hangover after the Masters," he admitted. "I wasn't ready for everything that came at me."
His return to form this year had been quiet, but consistent. In eight events before coming into Augusta, he had collected six top-10 finishes, a total that included a tie for third, two ties for second and a win a month ago at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles in the Northern Trust Open, his first win since the 2012 Masters. Despite a controversial withdrawal at the Arnold Palmer after he shot a first-round 83 a week earlier, he was playing well as he came to this fabled course that again seemed built for his game. Hit if far? Hit it high? Hit it left-handed? All of that came together one more time.
He became one of only 17 men to win the Masters more than once. The other 16 all are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He became part of a left-handed streak in the Masters, six of the past 11 winners being left-handed players. He became the American Original again, the blubbering Bubba, the natural. Hit it high? Hit it far? His potential public now again awaits Bubba future success.
Will it come?
"Hopefully, the hangover isn't as long this time," the happy man said in his second green jacket.