UGA’s Haack ‘exhausted with jubilation’ after watching Bubba Watson win Masters

UGA golf coach Chris Haack (middle) with UGA alums Angie and Bubba Watson during the UGA Stadion Classic in Athens in April 2011. (Photo by Bulldawg Illustrated)

UGA golf coach Chris Haack (middle) with UGA alums Angie and Bubba Watson during the UGA Stadion Classic in Athens in April 2011. (Photo by Bulldawg Illustrated)

ATHENS – Bubba Watson wasn’t the only one shedding tears of joy after the UGA graduate tapped in a one foot putt to win the 76th Masters golf tournament. One hundred miles away, Georgia golf coach Chris Haack and his longtime assistant Jim Douglas ended up in a tearful embrace in the living room of Haack’s Bogart home.

Haack, Douglas, some of Georgia’s current and former players and some extended family from Roanoke, Va., gathered there to watch the final round of the Masters on Easter Sunday. With Watson, a 2000-2001 Bulldog letterman, starting the day three shots off the lead, it began as a casual hope-fest. But when Watson bagged victory on the second playoff hole, it ended in a full-fledged bark-a-thon.

“It was pretty intense; it was crazy; a great time,” said Haack, his voice still hoarse and raw with emotion an hour after Watson slipped on the green jacket. “There was a whole bunch of us here and, needless to say, we were rooting pretty hard for Bubba. I was tearing up, too. I think anytime you see one of your guys do something great and see how it affects him and how emotional he was, it immediately made me get emotional.

“You’re just so happy to see things work out, it just kind of exhausts you with jubilation. It’s just unbelievable.”

With the victory, Watson becomes the first UGA golfer to win a major championship. Chip Beck, who was runner-up to Bernhard Langer in the 1993 Masters, was previously the closest.

“I’m so happy for Bubba and that finally a Dawg has arrived at the top at the Masters,” said Beck via text message Sunday night. “It was long overdue and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I was truly impressed with his Christian expression of faith in the awards ceremony. I’m proud to have met him.”

Haack said he thought the best thing that happened to Watson on Sunday was seeing his playing partner, Louis Oosthuizen, make just the fourth double eagle in Masters history right in front of him on the second hole.

“When he did that, Bubba knew immediately how many how many back he was and that he couldn’t play cautious,” Haack said. “It’s a whole different mentality than if you’re playing with a lead. He knew right away he had to just play golf, to just play his game. It probably helped him playing with Louis.”

Actually, the point at which Haack felt the most confidence in Watson was at the point everyone else was most doubtful. After Watson hooked his drive to end up deep in the woods to the right of the No. 10 fairway, Haack and Douglas looked at each other and smiled.

“When they showed the camera angle with that gap we both said, ‘he’s got this,’” Haack said with a laugh. “If there’s something Bubba can do, he can hook a wedge or 9-iron with the best of them. If anything he probably prefers that shot to sitting in the middle of the fairway. He loves to see the ball curve. To HAVE to make it curve, that’s right in his wheelhouse! We were just hoping he picked the right club and didn’t hit it over the green.”

Watson hit the 164-yard shot almost perfectly. It spun sideways to about 10 feet below the hole, where he was able to two-putt for victory.

Watson is married to UGA women’s basketball letterman Angie Ball, who remained home in Florida with their newly-adopted baby boy, Caleb. Afterward, in the Butler Cabin with Jim Nance of CBS and Masters chairman Billy Payne, Watson was asked if he had fulfilled a lifelong dream.

“I never got this far in my dreams,” he said, choking back tears.

Haack said a truer statement never has been spoken.

“That sounds like Bubba,” he said. “Bubba has always said, ‘I’d like to win 10 or 12 tournaments.’ I don’t think he’s really ever thought about the significance of doing something like this.”

Watson’s major championship capped off what has been a pretty good run for Bulldogs in the pros of late. Watson and UGA alum Chris Kirk both carded wins on the PGA Tour this past year; Russell Henley, Erik Compton and Harris English all won on the Nationwide Tour in 2011; and English has had four Top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour this year.

But this was another thing altogether. Watson won world golf’s biggest stage with a Georgia “G” logo on his golf bag. Fans barked “woof, woof, woof” and yelled “Go Dogs” all day from behind the gallery ropes. And the first words out of Watson’s mouth at the green jacket presentation ceremony were, “to all my fans, you got to say, ‘Go Dogs.’”

It left Haack bursting with pride.

“I think it means a lot,” Haack said. “Anytime the University’s name gets mentioned in the forefront of anything good with any of our alums, it’s a great thing. It’s the same thing when Hines Ward is the MVP of the Super Bowl or anything like that. When one of your people stands out head and shoulders above the rest, that’s a point of pride for the entire university. I’m sure all over this country and in different parts of the world where there are Georgia alums, everybody is feeling a little bit of pride watching one of their own put on the green jacket.”

Haack still had not had a chance to talk yet with his former pupil late Sunday night. He just sent him a text message shortly after the din in his den subsided.

“All I said was, ‘I’m very proud of you. Fatherhood just got a little sweeter.’”

86 comments Add your comment

Top Row Dog

April 8th, 2012
11:45 pm

First Green Jacket for UGA

Bubba Watson UGA
Larry Mize Georgia Tech
Phil Mickleson Arizonia State
Tommy Aaron Florida Gators
Ben Crenshaw Texas Longhorns
Jack Nicholas Ohio State
Tiger Woods Stanford
Mark OMeara Long Beach State
Zach Johnson Drake University
Fred Couples Houston Cougars
Raymond Floyd NC Tarheel
Craig Stadler USC Trojan
Tom Watson Stanford
Fuzzy Zoeller Houston Cougar
Charles Coody TCU
Billy Casper Notre Dame
Bob Goalby U of Illinois
Gay Brewer Kentucky Wildcat
Arnold Palmer Wake Forest
Art Wall, Jr Duke

Seems most of the earlier guys just went from golf club caddies or member to professional status.

Again and again.....

April 9th, 2012
12:06 am

UGA on top, beating the Techie (M. Kuchar).

Nothing new here.

Again and again.....

April 9th, 2012
12:10 am

Billy Payne runs it… Bubba Watson wins it.

That’s a UGA takeover.

Claim Bobby Jones all you want, nerds. He is currently owned by the Dawgs. (Similar to Paul Johnson)

Profiler

April 9th, 2012
1:32 am

Congratulations to Bubba! You have made us all proud with winning and even more by your humility, attitude, and faith.

GO DAWGS!

Northside Dr. Dawg

April 9th, 2012
6:11 am

Another notch in the Bulldog belt of professional athletic achievement, take that Nerds! Go Dogs!!!!

Proud-Dawg

April 9th, 2012
6:24 am

Alright guys, let’s keep it civil. If you want to bash each other please exit right to Carvell’s column. Congrats Bubba, way to represent the University of Georgia.

VinnyD

April 9th, 2012
6:55 am

Bubba is my favorite player to watch but I was really hoping to see Kuchar make it interesting. Good day For Matt, but what an awesome day for Bubba.

dawginduluth

April 9th, 2012
7:01 am

A great diversion from the ongoing Richt mess.

Nothing but goodness from Bubba and UGA Golf. Give Chis Haack a million dollar raise and a TEN year extension for developing champions with character!

Dr Fever

April 9th, 2012
7:04 am

Again and again…..

This techie is proud of Bubba and has identified another dog with no class.

TY

April 9th, 2012
7:06 am

I hope ajc takes a little more time to report this than just this article. You are a little behind what other media groups are doing.

Big Al

April 9th, 2012
7:25 am

Once again the Dawgs top Tech.

Gordon

April 9th, 2012
7:43 am

Have any of you idiots ever heard of Bobby Jones? A Tech man.

Other major winners from Tech: Mize, Duval, and Cink.

Congratulations to Bubba.

DGD!

April 9th, 2012
8:01 am

Awesome job Bubba Watson. I watched fo four days and knew sat you had as good a chance as anyone. Proud to be a Bulldawg.

DGD!

April 9th, 2012
8:03 am

And all you lame a$$ insects and UGA bashers get off the blog. This is a day for Bubba and UGA to celebrate. I thiught you people were supposed to be intelligent.

Worm

April 9th, 2012
8:07 am

Former Dawg Vinnie Giles did win the U.S. amateur.

Bulldawgman46

April 9th, 2012
8:14 am

What a great Masters to watch this weekend . Glad a DAWG wins it this yr , And that brust of emotions I think alot men were tearing up as well .

RJ

April 9th, 2012
8:14 am

This isn’t about beating another university it is about a guy who saw his dream become reality. Proud he is a UGA guy but had he come up short I would have been pulling for Kuchar. There is much more to life than all the bickering and name calling.

bubba4dawgs

April 9th, 2012
8:25 am

What a story-book ending!! WOW is truly the word! I must admit I choked when you praised the good Lord, Bubba! We share the same name, Bubba and we also share being a lover of the DAWGS! You’ve now been blessed with a precious son which I know has made you more proud than winning the Masters! Thanks for making the whole DAWG Nation proud!! Good luck for continued success!! GO DAWGS!!!

93 Dawg

April 9th, 2012
8:27 am

HOW ‘BOUT THAT DAWG! GO BUBBA! YOU MADE US PROUD.

DawgsRKneds

April 9th, 2012
8:43 am

What a crock ! Haack practically kicked him out of the line up his senior year. Bubba has been distant and doesn’t have a warm feeling about how he was mis treated during his time in Athens. There is more to this story than meets the eye. Congrats to Bubba, but Haack has no right to jump on the bandwagon now. Biggest slim ball in the college golf!!!!!

DawgsRKneds

April 9th, 2012
8:45 am

Enter your comments here

Chip Towers

April 9th, 2012
8:48 am

TY: Try clicking the following link and tell me whether you think we provided adequate coverage:
http://www.ajc.com/sports/golf/

The Tide is rolling and nothing can stop it

April 9th, 2012
8:55 am

Finally! A championship for UGA(well, an alum)! I guess there were no Florida grads playing.

The Tide is rolling and nothing can stop it

April 9th, 2012
8:56 am

Of course a UGA grad would be named Bubba.

Go Jackets

April 9th, 2012
8:58 am

How many “Dawg fans” even knew that Bubba Watson played golf at UGA before this weekend? I suspect that the vast majority of you had absolutely no clue.

claytondawg

April 9th, 2012
9:04 am

Being a ‘Dog for many many years, I did not know that one of my all-time favorite Masters’ winner was a Gator!!! I knew Tommy Aaron as my hometown boy in Gainesville, GA. Doesn’t matter. Both Tommy and Bubba are gentlemen and great guys. Proud of them.

@Go Jackets

April 9th, 2012
9:21 am

I can honestly say that every UGA fan I know is very aware that Bubba played at UGA. You can say what you want about UGA, but their real fans read, watch, breathe, and live everything there is, when it’s about UGA.

@ DawgsRKneds

April 9th, 2012
9:21 am

I was of the understanding that long-ago hard feelings between Haack and Watson had been patched up. I think Andy Landers, who Angie Watson played for, and Chris Haack played roles in mending the rift, and also encouraged Bubba to complete his degree work, which he did. The UGA team Watson played for, was loaded with talented players probably further along in their golf game that Bubba at the time, who obviously had far greater upside than his more heralded teammates in college.

Buzzboy

April 9th, 2012
9:32 am

Here is a Tech fan that is very happy for Bubba. I am thankful for his character and his stand for Christ. I love the Jackets and was pulling for Matt, but I am a Christian first and am excited to see a fellow believer on Easter Sunday wear the Green Jacket!

Charles

April 9th, 2012
9:41 am

DawgsRKneds – You’re way behind with your info. Bubba did leave with some bitter feelings, but that was long ago mended and he has admitted on numerous occasions that he’s matured a ton since then. Bubba is a Dawg to the core, as evidenced by his ‘Go Dawgs’ as the first thing to come out of his mouth during the ceremony afterwards. Bubba has grown up a ton over the last 8 years, even went back and got his degree.

Don’t misrepresent the facts of the situation just simply because you’re sore about the outcome.

Paddy

April 9th, 2012
9:53 am

Nobody owns Bobby Jones, again & again, he has been deceased for many years. The all-time greatest amature and founder of Augusta National. That was a rather uneducated comment .
Congrats Bubba, DGD
Go Dawgs!

gdawginkalamazoo

April 9th, 2012
9:58 am

Congrats to Bubba! What a great finish to the Masters. Classic.

Buzzboy, yes if Bubba wasn’t there at the end I was hoping Kuchar could have been. That guy has the best demeanor on the golf course bar none. He smiles even when he hits a bad shot. If I want my kid to emulate somebody’s behavior on the course Kuchar is one to follow.

Dawg_Mike

April 9th, 2012
10:16 am

Congrats to Gary Bubba Watson – you made the world proud.
What a day to be a DAWG !

dshep

April 9th, 2012
10:31 am

Kucher was awesome! As a true Dawg fan, I would have been just as proud to see Matt win the Masters. Was a great tourney to watch.

Tech Fan

April 9th, 2012
10:46 am

Congratulations to Bubba! Nice to see a bulldawg that isn’t classless….. .like some on this blog.

Spike 80DF

April 9th, 2012
11:00 am

Great Sunday in Augusta. I was pulling hard for Bubba and Kuchar.

GTBob

April 9th, 2012
11:05 am

What a day to be a DAWG !

Do UGA fans get a cut of his winnings or something?

Whiznot

April 9th, 2012
11:25 am

Sunday was a great day for two Dogs. John Isner put the US Davis Cup team in the semi-finals by beating Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and the French team on French clay. Isner also won his Friday singles match against Gilles Simon. Bubba Watson and John Isner are both freakishly different from everyone else in their respective sports.

AltamahaDawg

April 9th, 2012
11:27 am

Yes we do. All Dawg fan feel like we get a cut. It’s not our problem that you cannot comprehend something just because it is not expressed in a number.

DawgsRKneds

April 9th, 2012
11:27 am

Charles- I have the exact facts about the situation . You are the one the behind. Patched up yeah right not until he got his PGA Tour card. He was clearly good enough to play on that 2000 team. They played him as an indivdual one time to burn up a year of eligbity to send him packing a year early. Ask anyone in the know about college golf. As I said before congrats to Bubba. Dawgs fans you cant claim this one.

Murphy

April 9th, 2012
11:34 am

I watched with great excitement.It was very cool to hear the crowd yelling Go Dawgs at times.I was pulling for Bubba hard.What a shot to win it.I guess you could say he Finished the Drill.Congrats to Bubba. Long live Bubba golf lol

GTBob

April 9th, 2012
11:36 am

It’s not our problem that you cannot comprehend something just because it is not expressed in a number.

No, it’s pretty easy to comprehend. UGA fans are trying to act like UGA accomplished something because a guy that most of them have never heard of won the masters. A guy that only went to UGA for two years, and also played at a community college.

Murphy

April 9th, 2012
11:37 am

To all Tech fans here: I would have certainly had no issues with Kuchar winning.He is a class act for sure.It just ended up as a Dawg day afternoon.

AltamahaDawg

April 9th, 2012
11:42 am

No, I got it. You are saying you can’t understand a sports fan claiming some pride when a former member of thier favorite college team accomplishes something. There was no confusion on this end.

AltamahaDawg

April 9th, 2012
11:46 am

I can assure you that the folks in HERE know exactly who he is. It was the folks in here that you were addressing at 11:05, was it not?

beanster

April 9th, 2012
11:48 am

Yesterday was great fun to watch. While Watson’s hook out of “jail” was impressive, I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier shot in golf than Oosthuizen’s 2nd on #2.

My only complaint about Bubba — what’s up with the pink driver?

GTBob

April 9th, 2012
11:50 am

No, I got it. You are saying you can’t understand a sports fan claiming some pride when a former member of thier favorite college team accomplishes something. There was no confusion on this end.

How many of Bubba Watson’s golf matches did you attend while he was at UGA? Being a huge UGA football fan and then gloating when a random UGA golfer wins a tournament is pathetic.

St. Richt

April 9th, 2012
11:51 am

Great win for Bubba and the Dawgs. I’m a Tech man through and through, but was rooting for Bubba all day long over the South African. Sure I would’ve preferred Kuchar to win, but Bubba was my man once it came to the playoff with that guy whose name I butcher everytime I try to say it.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 9th, 2012
11:54 am

beanster, breast cancer awareness is the reason for the pink driver.

beanster

April 9th, 2012
11:59 am

great, make me feel like a jerk now, why don’t you ;-)