Last week, a golfer sent his driver head flying into the fairway after his tee shot. Sounds like a pretty typical sight to see at your local course. Normally this would send the average golfer into a tailspin for the remainder of their round as they strategize how to salvage their game without their trusty driver.
That is unless of course you are Bubba Watson.
For a moment in time, it almost felt like Bubba was one of us. Watson’s relatable moment was at the Travelers Championship during his second round. He was looking to mark his fourth championship title at the tournament when his turn at hole 2 didn’t quite go as planned.
Being the pro he is, it was clear Bubba new immediately that something was off as he and the crowd watched is driver head veer right directly after impact. His ball still managed to find the fairway about 295 yards out from his tee shot.
Bubba's caddie Ted Scott fulfilling the "other duties as assigned" part of the gig. pic.twitter.com/EUF2xud2dJ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 25, 2021
Undeterred, Bubba went on to sink a putt for birdie on the par-4 hole.
“Yeah, it was a perfect tee shot right down the middle,” Watson quipped after his round. “Chipped it in there and made the putt for birdie.”
It wouldn’t be his only success, as he managed to reach a modest five birdies before the end of Round 2. When asked about the equipment failure, Bubba discussed how the mishap may have occurred.
“It’s one of the things where the driver through travel, heat, cold, whatever it is, over time, overuse, my driver head popped off. It’s the shaft right above the hosel. It’s cracked, broke, whatever you want to call it.”
But this wasn’t Watson’s first time dealing with broken equipment during an important tournament. As it turns out, this has happened to him before.
“The last time it happened might have been the Presidents Cup in Korea. I remember right before the first tee on the driving range. Again, nobody has ever been hit by it, and luckily DJ was just out of the way and it didn’t reach the crowd, so nobody got hurt. Nobody in my group knew where the ball was.”
Ending his round with a respectable 66, Watson was headed into round 3 with a one-shot lead. Later the broken driver was inspected, and it indeed appeared to break off where the shaft meets the clubhead.
“If I was going to hit anybody I was hoping it would be Brooks,” Bubba joked. “But I missed him though. Not that good of an aimer.”
So how did Bubba adjust to his misfortune? USGA Rule 4.1 allows for a golfer to replace a club if the club is damaged due to “natural forces”:
“A player is not allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or natural forces or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie.”
Watson relied on his 3-wood to get him through until a new driver arrived and it was smooth sailing from there on out.
“When you come off the U.S. Open everything seems easier. Even though there is thick rough you feel like you can play out of it. You can still move the ball forward,” said Buba. “That’s really what I’ve felt over the years, is that I can play no matter where the ball ends up.”