Smack dab in the middle of a long line of deeply tanned, deeply serious men: an oasis of mirth.
Golfers on the practice tee at last month's Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., looked up every so often to glance in the direction of Mark Wilson, who was cutting up with ... Jim Carrey?
Beg your pardon, that wasn't Carrey, but rather Bubba Watson reprising Carrey's manic turn as Chip Douglas in The Cable Guy. Wilson and Watson are friends who happened to draw each other in a second-round match that morning at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. You couldn't cut the tension with a knife. With their tee time 20 minutes away, they took turns paraphrasing Carrey's choice lines from the scene where he battles Matthew Broderick at the theme restaurant Medieval Times:
"I do not know you!"
"You are my sworn enemy!"
"Prepare to meet your demise!"
And so on.
Prepare to meet Bubba from Bagdad, as the sometimes-loopy lefty refers to himself. A native of Bagdad, Fla., near Pensacola, he is known for his ridiculous length—Watson's 314.8-yard driving average leads the PGA Tour—and the still more ridiculous pink shaft on his driver. What's the deal with that? "It's like calling the biggest man 'Tiny,'" Watson explains. "It doesn't really fit, but it's funny." Pause. "It's funny to me, with the goofy mind I have."
Watson's mind is among the most original and intriguing in golf. In this era of equipment designed to make the ball fly straight, he is an affable, shaggy-haired anomaly—a savant at shaping his shots: cutting and drawing (up to 50 yards), high and low, and otherwise making the ball do his bidding. With a self-taught swing you wouldn't teach, he executes shots that even his peers could not conceive.
"He paints the course," says Rory McIlroy. "He moves the ball better than anyone in the game right now."