I cringe when I hear Christian athletes such as Kevin Durant and Bubba Watson say, ‘I don’t care what people think of me. I only have to please God.’
Christians, athletes or not, should know the second part of the verse in Matthew 22:37-38… the part about ‘loving your neighbor as yourself.’
Wouldn’t that mean we care about what our neighbors think of us?
At the 2015 Masters press conference on Tuesday, Watson was facing the music as three different reporters asked him about a recent ESPN.com poll that surveyed 103 tour pros (21 major champions).
Each were asked a variety of serious and lighthearted questions. One of the questions asked golfers which of their peers they would be least likely to assist in the event that a fight broke out in the parking lot. Watson’s name showed up the most.
Apparently, Watson’s golfing neighbors aren’t feeling warm and fuzzy about the vibe the 2-time Masters Champion gives off.
At last year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, Watson refused to participate in the Long Drive Contest before the tournament started despite being one of the longest hitters in golf.
Then, he yelled an obscenity at his caddie, Ted Scott, during the second round after hitting a bad shot. Watson complained about water on his club face and actually made Scott tee up a ball for him so he wouldn’t get wet in the rain.
In 2013, at the final round of the Travelers Championship, Watson went after his caddie again on national TV.
Carrying a two-shot lead into the par-3 16th, Watson hit a tee shot that landed in the water hazard at TPC River Highlands, which caused a severe chiding of his caddie for the club selection. Watson again was crass with his caddie after flying the green with a wedge after hitting his third shot from the drop zone. Watson made triple-bogey 6 and lost the golf tournament.
Golfers like Ian Poulter, came to the aid of Watson’s caddie by tweeting, “I take full responsibility on hitting shots.”
During a practice round earlier this year, Watson got into an exchange with the father a young boy who was seeking his autograph. Watson claimed the father was having the boy get his autograph in order to sell it on Ebay.
On March 3rd, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, Watson admitted, “I’ve got issues.”
“Golf is golf,” Watson said. “It’s a sport. If I’m defined just as a golfer, that means off the golf course I’m not a very fun person to be around.”
“I want my kids to see me as their role model. My dad was my role model. I learned a lot from my dad and my mom. If you’ve noticed, over the last six months – because of social media, because of commentary – I needed to change as a person, how I act, how I appear on TV. My son, my daughter is going to see that at some point, and so I’ve got to change who I am. ”
So yesterday at the Masters, Watson appeared to take the high road when the questions kept coming about the ESPN.com poll.
“I take it as I need to improve as a man,” Watson said somberly to the press. “I take it with pride. I need to get better.”
Watson said he doesn’t notice any tension between himself and other players in the locker room. Watson thinks he’s become a better person since his rookie year, but that there’s always room for improvement.
“It’s a challenge, it’s great. I’m glad that it came out and it’s going to help me improve,” Watson said. “So if it’s a bad thing and people don’t like me, then I’ve got to improve and prove them wrong.”
Let’s see if this means there’s going to be a little more neighborly love from Bubba. It’s biblical, and it’s a start.