He may have just joined a select group of golfers to have won multiple majors and World Golf Championships but don’t try telling Bubba Watson that he’s a favourite to win a third Masters in just under two weeks’ time.
The left-hander routed fellow American Kevin Kisner 7&6 in the final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin to seal his second PGA Tour victory of the season.
The win was also the 39-year-old’s second WGC victory, following his 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions triumph. Consequently, he has emulated Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy as the only golfers to have won both majors and WGC multiple times.
For many, given both his current form and past record at Augusta National, Watson is the man to beat when the first men’s major of the season gets underway a week on Thursday.
He, though, sees it rather differently.
“No, I'm not a favourite,” he insisted. “I'm going to definitely say that. I'm not a favourite. I don't want anybody to talk to me that week. Let me just focus on what I've got to do. I'm not going to play well that week, so nobody talk to me. I want you to bug everybody else.
“Favourites, you can’t pick favourites. A favourite, it's -- you eat the wrong food, you just wake up in the wrong way, whatever it is. So a favourite, that's for stuff that we don't care about. We want to try to go out and do our jobs. And if we do our job well, we think we're good enough to beat the other guy.”
Pressed to rate his chances of becoming just the ninth golfer to win the Masters three or more times, Watson added: “I just want to focus on what I can do. And I can't focus on what the other guys can do. I'm going to try to keep my head down. Look like a zombie or whatever you want to call it, try to focus on me, try to focus on my shots, and be committed to every shot.
“I'm always excited about the Masters. It's the Masters. Anybody that’s a golf fan, anybody that has any interest in sports is interested in the Masters. It's the greatest sporting event I've ever been associated with. It's the greatest sporting event in the history of golf. So every person, no matter how old or how young, gets excited when they hit Magnolia Lane and the champions locker room.”
Watson’s win over Kisner has lifted him to 21st on the Official World Golf Ranking, having started the year ranked 89th. Dustin Johnson continues to lead the way, followed by Justin Thomas – who would have overtaken him had he not been beaten in the semi-finals of the Match Play by Watson – and Jon Rahm in third.
Watson has also seen his odds of winning the Masters slashed followed his second victory in five weeks. He is now 16/1, having been 40/1 when betting opened in August.