The "year of rejoicing" rolls on in Louisville, where Bubba Watson somehow got huffy about participating in a long drive contest during Tuesday's practice round at the PGA Championship.
The long drive game was a PGA tradition which they brought back this year at Valhalla. It's not really a separate or inconvenient side game, but rather the PGA of America just officially measuring your drive at No. 10 while you play it in practice. You're already out there on the course, and you're already going to hit a driver on this par-5 595-yard hole.
Bubba, one of the longest and most creative drivers of the golf ball in the history of the game, somehow found a way to complain about this. In what Geoff Shackelford called "Bubba's hissy fit of the week," the two-time Masters champ spent the weekend ripping harmless and fun competition, via Jason Sobel:
"I'm there to play golf, not to hit it far," said the namesake of BubbaGolf. "I've got to practice. I've never been to the course. I don't need to worry about a long drive on the 10th hole."
That quote, of course, came right after Bubba hit the longest drive of the year on the PGA Tour, a 424-yard bomb on the downhill par-5 16th hole at Firestone.
So what happened when Bubba, the guy everyone wanted to see rip one, arrived on the 10th tee during Tuesday's practice round?, via PGAChampionship.com's Live Blog:
That's right, Bubba pulled a 3-iron on a hole that he admitted he planned to use a driver on all week. It was a contest created largely for the fans, and with the winnings going to charity. The PGA has video of Bubba's shot, and the reigning Masters champ took just a second to make his swing and was off walking with his playing partner (appears to be Chesson Hadley) still to tee off behind him.
Bubba was asked about the decision to hit a 3-iron, and he indicated he did it to "prove a point" while calling the contest "hokey." He added, "There's no reason to make something up in the middle of a practice round like that."
It's just the latest in unnecessarily stupid complaints from Bubba, but this one was especially perplexing. The main reason he cited for having an issue with the contest was, "I don't think we should have a competition like that while we are trying to learn the golf course." He said that after hitting a club the he's not going to hit during actual competitive play, so it had absolutely no "practice" or "learning" effect. His reasoning and method of protest make no sense.
When the press conference concluded, Golf Channel's Arron Oberholser said the decision, and subsequent press conference, were a "slap in the face" to the PGA of America and "disrespectful to the event and to the PGA and I don't think it does Bubba Watson any good to do that kind of stuff." Mark Rolfing added that all it's done for Bubba is "complicate" the 10th tee for him going forward this week. This wasn't the worst crime, it just made no sense.
In addition to the Golf Channel critiques, the puzzled reaction on Twitter was a wave of universal frustration:
So Bubba leads Tour in driving distance, hit one 424 last wk & made living off "Bubba Golf." But long drive contest? Ain't got time for that— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) August 5, 2014
Find it odd that Bubba has picked this long-drive fight. Relax.— Damon Hack (@damonhackGC) August 5, 2014
The guy who wanted to drive General Lee down Magnolia Lane thinks a long drive contest is ridiculous.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) August 5, 2014
Bubba Watson is upset the long drive contest was in the middle of his practice round. SORRY BUBBA.— Trevor Reaske (@Tap_In_Golf) August 5, 2014
Bubba slamming the long drive contest makes me think that it was Ted Scott's idea all along.— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) August 5, 2014
"I’m here to win a championship. I’m not here to goof around" says Bubba, who posted this during the 2013 PGA: https://t.co/gmOX60O7gT— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) August 5, 2014
Phil Mickelson, who had just left the press tent before Bubba, was a little less upset about having one of his shots measured during practice:
"We all loved it. We all had fun with it. I thought it was great. They had the feedback right there to tell you how long each drive was. I thought it was terrific, I hope they keep doing it."
This certainly isn't the whiniest or dumbest thing Bubba has said or done over the years, but it does seem the like the most trivial and unnecessary. Enjoy your week in Louisville!