Looking back at the miracle shot that won him the 2012 Golf Masters, Gerry Lester Watson wiped away tears at this year’s press conference as he shared about what he truly valued in life.
Memories of his own miracle moment came flooding back before handing over the title to reigning Australian champ, Adam Scott.
That unorthodox-style 40-yard hook out of the tree canopy and onto the green on the 10th hole won Gerry, better known as Bubba, the green jacket that he wrapped around his newly adopted son in celebration.
Despite winning four PGA Championships in the space of three years, 34-year-old Bubba is one of a few left-handed golfers on tour and says he has never had a golfing lesson in his life.
“The last two years have been a great two years on the golf course, but in life, I’m getting to a point where I finally understand what golf means to me,” Bubba says.
Anyone who follows “Wacky Watson” on Twitter or in the media will know that his eccentric personality, hot pink shafted driver and cheeky antics come up second to his open love for Jesus.
Bubba did not grow up in a Christian home in Florida, but he says he always felt that he was one of the good guys because he never cussed, cheated, stole, drank or did drugs.
It was not until his senior year in high school when his neighbours invited him to their youth group that he heard that being ‘good’ would not cut it.
Bubba was confronted with the fact that God demanded perfection and that the only way to achieve this was through Jesus who, as God in human form, lived a perfect life and died a torturous death in place of him.
“After a few times of going to the youth group I realised: This is truth here. And I gave myself to the Lord,” he says.
Despite praying to accept Jesus into his life, the pressures of starting a professional golfing career distracted him from making God a priority until he began dating former WNBA player Angie Ball in college.
“We wanted to be Christ followers,” he says.
“We wanted to do the right thing. We started turning to the Lord for our decisions.”
The couple soon married and Bubba says the decision to put God first in their lives significantly shaped him into the man he is today.
It has not always been a smooth road since then with the death of Bubba’s father from throat cancer and the couple’s inability to have children of their own.
Even on the golf course Bubba says; drives into the rough, 5-inch stuff or birdie putts rimming out would be enough to send his blood pressure soaring and he became known for his temper on the green.
“I was so wrapped up in ‘Why am I not winning?’ and it created frustrations in my head and in my life,” he says.
“That was my biggest hurdle trying to get over. Now when I do it, the first thing I do is pray and tell the Lord I’m trying to get better…I’m always taking steps back, but hopefully I take more steps forward.”
Nowadays, Bubba is involved in hour-long Bible studies with other golfers and says it helps him stay connected with God.
“Now you know other people you can talk to, ask questions of, tell them what you’re thinking, tell them what’s going on in your life,” he says.
“I’m getting more into the Word (the Bible) and realising that golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to share what it is to be a Christian, with as many people as I can.”
Last year’s victory at the US Masters happened to be on Easter Sunday and Bubba used the opportunity to give God all the glory amidst the celebrations.
“This is the day ‘Jesus is risen’,” he told reporters on the day. “Good Friday was when He was crucified on the cross, and today is Easter where we celebrate He has risen. For us, that’s salvation to go to Heaven. He took all of our sins from us.”
Later he added that the special thing about being a Christian is that “nothing is too big for God and we can’t comprehend that because He is the Almighty.”
“Just because our plan is easier doesn’t mean anything because His plan is best,” Bubba says.
“We may struggle, but what’s really a struggle when you know you are going to heaven? If I never won a golf tournament or if I never made the PGA Tour, and still made it to heaven — that’s the most important thing.”