One of the iconic sports moments of the year came when Bubba Watson won the Masters in April and was overwhelmed by the moment, clutching his mom as he dissolved into happy tears.
Two months later, and Watson is still overwhelmed — but not entirely in good ways.
Earlier this week, after hosting a Christian music concert in downtown Columbus, Ohio, before the first round of the Memorial in nearby Dublin, Watson said he and his wife, Angie, were followed home by someone driving closely behind them. They had their adopted baby, Caleb, with them.
"A car chased me," Watson told the press after his second-round 74 at the Memorial on Friday.
If you've ever had the vision of headlights in your rear-view mirror late at night — headlights that don't seem to move no matter where you go — you know the feeling of panic. That panic was surely amplified greatly by Watson's public profile, which has taken off in the last eight weeks. Angie was driving at first, but they pulled over so Bubba could take the wheel when the headlights didn't move. This went on as the Watsons drove further away from the house they were renting for the week of the tournament. Watson said the chase lasted for exactly 37 minutes, and he was sweating every second. He called his caddie to try to head off the pursuer — to no avail — and said he would "drive through someone's yard if I had to."
All this came after the post-Masters media attention got so intense that Watson pulled out of two big tournaments — the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players — because he felt he needed to spend more time with his wife and child. "The Players is one of the best weeks of the year," he said at the time, "but bonding with my son and wife is what it is all about right now." The Watsons made the decision to look for a house in a gated community in Orlando to find more privacy and safety. "We wanted to be in a secure area," he said. So this episode, no matter what the intentions of the driver behind them, was the last thing the young family needed.
"When you start dealing with that," Watson said, "when you have the kid with you, it's not a good situation."
Eventually the situation defused when the headlights trailing the Watsons vanished. They still have no idea what the driver behind them wanted. Hopefully they'll never know. But the downside of sudden fame isn't likely to go away anytime soon for a golfer that everyone seems to love.
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