Lying deep in the woods on the second play-off hole of the Masters at Augusta National, it was pretty clear Bubba Watson needed some divine intervention to have any shot at victory.
It is still up for debate as to whether Watson actually received a helping hand from the heavens or if the shot was more a product of his approach to the game – one that is characterised by a rare blend of skill, luck and a formidable pair of gonads.
But either way, the likeable lefty curved the ball some 50 metres to make the miracle shot which set up the win.
As he stood on the side of the 10th green, microphone in hand and the green jacket resting snugly around his typically plump golf-sculpted torso, Bubba made it abundantly clear as to why he believed he had achieved such success.
Watson began his acceptance speech with the oldest of gags, tapping the mic and asking “is this thing on?”
He continued with a dramatic pause that could have easily belonged to a reality-TV host, about to tell us who was no longer welcome on the island.
Bubba then went into college frat-boy mode and officially began his thank yous by saying “first off, to all my fans I’ve gotta say ‘Go Dawgs!’”
It was then that Watson’s speech took an unexpected twist. In one sentence Bubba was transformed from an affable wedge-wielding jester, cut straight from the Caddy Shack mould, to an evangelical preacher.
“And then second I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
Now Bubba, did you really have to take this fine moment of sporting triumph and use it to pedal your religious wares?
Surely a silent prayer to God would have been just as effective, as it’s fair to say s/he would not have had to be standing greenside or at home in front of the box to hear your spiritual shout out.
And what are we to make of you throwing the Lord in there during the middle of your speech?
Have you not seen the Grammys? You either begin or end your speech with a reference to the Lord, not just throw him in the middle like some great uncle that used to drive you to the practice range.
After all, according to your doctrine, without the almighty you wouldn’t have any fans. So there is no point thanking them first if it was your Holy Father who let ‘The Dawgs’ out in the first place.
And what did you expect those ‘Dawgs’ to do following your reference to the man upstairs? Put down the beer bong, quit their howling and genuflect?
I’m generally curious as to what it was old JC saved Bubba from in the first place?
It clearly wasn’t a demeaning nickname. Maybe growing up, Bubba was destined for a childhood of lighting cherry bombs and shoplifting from Walmart before he discovered a pitch and putt around the back of the Presbytery.
Don’t get me wrong – I like Bubba Watson.
He seems like a funny guy and is a far more endearing champion than the likes of Tiger Woods, who was spiting dummies and kicking clubs as Bubba was marching towards his first major.
But do I really need his religious preferences being rammed down my throat?
I’d much prefer it if he just stuck to talking about golf, and mentioning those that have helped him along the way who didn’t happen to painfully perish some two thousand years previous.
There are those that might say that Watson played some solid golf for four days and had earned the right to thank whoever he wants as he collected the trophy.
But it just all seemed a bit contrived and the hoots from the crowd just left things looking like a bad commercial for the Christian movement.
Watson’s Masters victory and ensuing speech sent waves through the bible belt of the US, turning him into a household name overnight.
All this attention undoubtedly boosted Bubba’s marketability in this region and among Christians specifically. For any God-fearing middle American who’s ever picked up a putter, there is a new Saviour on the scene – just instead of walking on water he hits over it with a nine iron.
Watson regularly turns to Twitter as a platform for spreading the word of God and is clearly intent on drawing no boundaries between religion and the sporting world.
Far too often, the US is guilty of feeding the Christian movement through sport. It might be Tim Tebow spoiling perfectly good eye makeup with biblical verse numbers, Jeremy Lin fuelling the Christian arm of ‘Linsanity’ with his favourite Bible verses or the fact that the final heave down field with time running out is routinely referred to as a ‘Hail Mary’.
If nothing else, this attempt by Watson to wear his faith on his sleeve demonstrates the gaping cultural crevice between middle-American sporting stars, ready to champion the religious right and the cream of Australia’s sporting crop.
Granted, Jason Stevens was happy to talk up his Hillsong-funded abstinence, which probably helped to sell a few more of his books.
Likewise, Matthew Hayden liked to mention his faith, but by and large the Australian sporting elite do not let their religious preferences define them.
I hope Watson continues to win golf tournaments, but just pray his plan to “make golf an avenue for Jesus” does not make the cut.
For a three-rounds-a-year-hacker such as myself, there is definitely no place for God on the golf course.
Between the limitless mulligans, kicks-out onto the fairway and the mortal sin of unraked bunkers it is the last place I want the all-seeing eyes of the Lord.