AUGUSTA, Ga. — The signs are all there for Bubba Watson.
He won the Masters in 2012, shaping a right hook out of the forest on the 10th hole into a recovery shot for the ages, knocking out Louis Oosthuizen in their sudden-death playoff.
He won the Masters in 2014, overpowering fuzzy-cheeked Masters rookie Jordan Spieth and the rest of the field for his second green jacket. This after winning the Northern Trust Open earlier that season at fabled Riviera in Los Angeles.
Watson won at Riviera again this year. The signs are pointing in his favor, and if he wins a third green jacket, only Jack Nicklaus (six), Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer (four each) will own more.
Watson’s caddie, Lafayette’s Ted Scott, isn’t romanced by the numerology of it all.
Not that Scott isn’t keeping the faith in his man. Just the opposite. He thinks Bubba will win just because he’s Bubba, and the fact the former Zurich Classic of New Orleans champ has fashioned one strong year for himself so far in 2016.
“As I’ve said before, Bubba Watson is an artist, and Augusta National brings out the artist in a player,” Scott said.
From Scott’s front-row seat, trooping down Augusta National’s fairways and onto its greens, the impeccably manicured course looks like Watson’s canvas.
“It’s eye-popping,” Scott said. “The bright white sand and the brown pine straw and the green fairway. The flowers. It all tells you what to do if you’re Bubba Watson.”
Watson hits just about any shot but straight. He bends his ball left, and right, ironing out the humps and hills and mounds of this often treacherous championship layout to suit his creative will.
“A lot of people try to make a swing go to a certain spot,” Scott explained. “He doesn’t pick a spot. Whatever he feels comfortable doing, he does. It tells him the shot he should hit.
“It’s fun to caddie for a guy like that.”
Fun is the kind of season Watson is having.
He won the unofficial Hero World Challenge in December but officially made a statement by shooting 25-under-par to win by three over former University High golfer Patrick Reed.
After a tie for 10th at the Tournament of Champions in January, Watson won the Northern Trust and followed that up with a runner-up finish at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Watson comes into the Masters ranked No. 4 in the world and No. 7 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.
“All that says is he’s playing well,” Scott said. “But mainly it’s Augusta and Bubba. I can’t think of a better course in the world that fits his game than that place.”
Augusta National fits right-handed golfers who can draw the ball, as many of its par-4s and par-5s bend right to left. It works the same for a lefty whose fade works in the same direction.
“If you can hit it far and curve it right to left, it’s a huge advantage at Augusta,” Scott said. “The more you can sling it, it’s a massive advantage. If you’re the one hitting shorter irons than the rest of the field, it’s an advantage. You have to be so precise at Augusta with your distance control.”
No one ever slung one at the Masters quite like Bubba out of the trees four years ago. Scott said when they play the hole, he can’t help but sneaking a peek over in the shadows. If he’d looked Tuesday, Scott would have seen a gallery marshal holding court at the spot for inquiring fans who come to imagine how someone could hit a 165-yard gap wedge with 50 yards of hook to 15 feet on a dangerously sloping green.
(Note to the Masters: A commemorative plaque is a must.)
“Whoever Bubba is playing with wants to know where it was, what it was like,” Scott said. “It’s like the Larry Mize chip in on Greg Norman on 11 (in 1987). You have a shot people will probably replay forever.”
Some have even asked Watson to replay the famous shot.
“Why would he?” Scott asks incredulously. “It would just ruin the moment.”
Quite right. It would be like asking the artist to repaint his masterpiece.
Better to ask him to create another one.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.