PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The green jacket hardly left Bubba Watson's closet the first time he won the Masters. Already in the last three weeks, he has worn it to a hometown function for kids, to the University of Georgia, and even had it on when he threw out the first pitch in a minor league baseball game.
Watson says winning the Masters the first time was all about him as a player, though he wanted to show proper respect to the club and its jacket. The second time around, he's more interested in using the jacket to benefit others.
"I felt like this time I should be about inspiring kids and different people, and so I wanted to give back and do some things at my schools that I went to," Watson said Tuesday at The Players Championship, his first tournament since the Masters.
He went to Bagdad, the tiny town in northwestern Florida, and after being honored at the Historical Society, he went to his elementary school and donated money for the school to buy computers. He also visited his middle school and high school.
"For me, it was kind of about thanking everybody in the communities, thanking my teachers that really put their blood, sweat and tears into helping Bubba Watson," he said. "I might not have paid attention like I should, but it was, just to say thanks to everybody that's helped me throughout my young life."
At Georgia, he attended what Watson described as "an awards banquet for the smart kids."
"I wasn't ever invited to this banquet," he said. "It took me two green jackets before I finally got invited to this event."
His message to the children was to listen to the teachers. His message at Georgia was to give back to the community. And thus ended the Bubba Tour.
"We asked the members and the chairman at Augusta if we're allowed to use it (the green jacket) for certain events, but now it's done," Watson said. "It's up in the closet. Now we're going to hopefully try to contend at some other tournaments."
LEFTY AND THE SKULL: Callaway Golf has a new slogan for its Odyssey brand of putters called, "Innovate or Die." It's part of a promotion in which staff players carry a black bag with the motto written around what appears to be a skull and crossbones. It's actually a skull with 10 golf tees sticking out the bottom of the chin, and the crossbones are a pair of "Odyssey #7" putters.
It's an attention-getter. But it wasn't for Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson carried the skull on his bag for the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship. By Friday, he sought permission from Callaway to go back to the staff bag (red, white and blue) that he had carried all year.
"He called last week and said, 'Do you mind if I carry my regular Callaway bag?' And we told him, 'Do what makes you feel comfortable,'" said Nick Raffaele, Callaway's vice president of tour. "He just didn't feel like it was him."
There was no criticism leveled at Mickelson, and Callaway said it has not received any negative comments, but there were murmurs from some in the crowd at Quail Hollow when they saw the skull on the side of his bag.
To each his own. Not surprisingly, Pat Perez thought it was the coolest bag he ever had.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Jordan Spieth had a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play in the Masters until a four-shot swing over the next two holes. He wound up in a tie for second behind Bubba Watson, and Spieth later said the loss stung.
Jack Nicklaus speaks from experience when he said last week it would serve Spieth in the long run.
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