Augusta has been kind to Tiger Woods, but there’s a new favorite in town going by the name Bubba. Two wins in three years shows an affection for a new breed of player, one that doesn’t have a mechanical break down before hitting top gear.
Two wins in the last three years suggests that the Master’s crown has already changed hands. Perhaps Bubba is already Augusta’s new golden child.
But does this theory really hold true? Let’s take a look, is it a case of out with the old kitty and in with Bubba golf?
First time – Tiger
Tiger won on his first professional visit to Augusta in 1997 blowing away the cobwebs of the old guard typified by Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Tom Kite. Bubba had to wait until his fourth Masters before winning.
Scoring average – Tiger
Despite being in the doldrums for the best part of a decade (he hasn’t won at Augusta since 2005), Tiger still holds the key to scoring well at the Masters with an unbeaten 70.86 average score. Bubba trails by almost an entire shot with 71.79. The longevity of which Tiger has competed well at the Masters belies his current woeful form. It is still a successful scoring course – even for a wounded cat.
Rules – Tiger
Tiger doesn’t seem to know the rules, but that’s not an issue at the Masters, because it makes up its own rules. Just like when an illegal drop for some means signing the wrong scorecard and instant disqualification, for others, it means a shift in rules interpretation and a mere two shot penalty. It didn’t help in 2013 though.
Win ratio – Bubba
Bubba has played a total of six Masters Tournaments, he’s won two which means an impressive 33% win ratio, slightly better than Tiger’s nineteen appearances and four wins (21%) – Tiger’s first six Masters produced just one victory.
Left-handedness – Bubba
There’s an argument suggesting left handed golfers fare better at Augusta. Whilst it is a fact that there are more right to left doglegs than left to right, and lefties find it easier to fade the ball, there might be some truth to this argument. However only three lefties have ever won here and it might just as well have more to do with quality of golfer than on which side of the ball they set up. There’s nothing sinister about this argument, but, if ever a course was made for Bubba…
Best shot – Tie
Bubba’s wedge to beat Louis Oosthuizen in 2012 was a classic case of “WTF was that?” it remains one of the few shots that left viewers slack-jawed, agog. Tiger’s chip-in on the 16th in 2005 when the ball teetered on the edge of the hole, toying with us that it might not drop, was the epitome of drama. It was the last time we were thrilled by Tiger Woods at the Masters and what a ride it was!
Patron pleaser – Tiger
No one inspires a golf crowd like Tiger playing well. Even the mild mannered, polite, walking-not-running patrons of Augusta will blow cream soda through their noses if Tiger gets a sniff of victory. Bubba just doesn’t inspire the same kind of thrill; aloofness only works if you are a fourteen time major champion!
Tiger is still the number one draw at the Masters, but there’s a sense that it’ll take just one more Bubba victory to shift the balance. With every passing year, Tiger’s allure dims slightly. Golf’s shifting allegiance is favouring a bunch of other, highly talented golfers including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy. Throw in a Bubba too and soon, Tiger might just be another seat-filler at the Champion’s Dinner table!