COMMENTARY -- Show up. Keep up. Shut up. Those are the three rules a caddie needs to follow.
Apparently, to caddie for Bubba Watson like Ted Scott does, you must also be able to control the wind at will and happily take verbal chiding when your player screws up.
Watson walked to the tee at the par-3 16th in the final round of the Travelers Championship on Sunday with a two-shot cushion. The 2012 Masters champion hit his tee shot and immediately knew a gust of wind caught the ball. It dropped, landing in a water hazard. Looking toward his caddie with CBS Sports microphones listening, Watson said, "Water. It's in the water. That club. Yes, the water."
Watson was clearly not happy with the club Scott had recommended. Ultimately, however, it's the player that hits the shot. It's the wind that creeps up.
The pair made their way to the drop circle, some 125 yards from the hole. It's clearly a wedge for Watson, who has a lot of pop in the bat. Watson hit his third shot, a low bullet that flew the green, leaving him with a precarious chip shot for his fourth. Again, Watson blamed his caddie.
He inquired sarcastically, "So you're telling me that's the right yardage?"
CBS Sports commentator David Feherty wasn't impressed, calling out Watson after the display. He said something on-air again after Watson hit a lousy fourth shot.
Feherty said, "I suppose that might've been the wrong club."
Watson made triple-bogey 6, ending his chances for a second win at the site of his first PGA Tour win in 2010. After the hole ended, Watson continued quibbling with Scott, picking up his own golf bag like he was going to soldier on for the 71st and 72nd holes by himself. Watson didn't. And he lost.
Make no mistake. Watson is in the wrong. Undressing his caddie like that is the act of a man desperate to blame something, anything, for his own failings.
Yes, there was a lot of money on the line -- a seven-figure sum to the winner -- but this incident dings Watson's reputation, even among those who love him. That persona Watson has built is worth way more than any single golf tournament.
When people think of Bubba Golf, they think of the miraculous hook shot Watson hit in the sudden-death playoff of last year's Masters. They think of the guy in the Golf Boys. They think of the guy with the hovercraft golf cart.
What they probably don't think of is the anger and petulance Watson has described as once toxic to his golf career. In fact, it was his caddie Scott and wife, Angie, that sat Watson down and told him he needed to clean up his behavior. Scott threatened to quit working for Watson if his behavior didn't improve.
It's up to Scott how he wants to deal with this incident. Unfortunately, resolving this one becomes a little more difficult since it was recorded and broadcast for the world to see. There's little escaping it for the duo.
How often something like this happens to Scott is unclear. Obviously, when Bubba is at his best, Scott's life is considerably easier. But, in the leaner times, the conversation probably isn't as fun, like now. Before this week, Watson hadn't posted a top-five finish since the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He'll post one this week just outside of Hartford, Conn., but the 16th hole will prove a costly one in several ways.
Watson and Scott will have to work this out. Maybe it's on Sunday night after the tournament ends. Maybe it's over dinner, or at a driving range. Maybe it doesn't work out at all, which would be a shame because of how important Scott has been to Watson's career.
What is pretty clear from the reaction to the incident on social media is that, while Watson may not lose a caddie because of his tantrum, he will lose some fans.
Ryan Ballengee is a Washington, D.C.-based golf writer. His work has appeared on multiple digital outlets, including NBC Sports and Golf Channel. Follow him on Twitter @RyanBallengee.
- Sports & Recreation
- Bubba Watson
- Ted Scott