There is much speculation around the withdrawal of Bubba Watson from the Arnold Palmer Invitational tourney after he pulled out stating that he was experiencing health related issues due to allergies. His opening round of 83 included a score of eleven on the sixth hole with is set at par 5 and it’s not certain that his reasoning was taken seriously. The sixth hole debacle made the rounds on the internet with Watson dropping three shots in a row into the water and he himself later circulated a video of Rick Fowler jumping into the water that is close to Watson’s home. Was it all really a big joke to Watson?
Other golfers have also experience equivalent flack when they have had to pull out of events. Tiger Woods has been the frequent subject of backlash for that exact matter as he has often withdrawn himself from tournaments because of injuries and it is only at a later time that the gravity of those issues were confirmed due to his long term hiatus from the game.
At the 2013 Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy also decided to take a powder when he tallied up to seven over par after his first eight holes, saying that he was experiencing an extreme dental problem and it was too painful to continue. He pulled back out of that after he was impacted by the negative reaction of media, fans and other players, and was quite taken aback by that response.
The question is why Watson could get away with removing himself from one of the most recognized and lauded events on the PGA tour for a flimsy excuse such as a response to allergies, something which could be easily rectified with numerous medications, and then goof around with friends outdoors afterward and still not have to take the same kind of beating as McIlroy or Woods.
Sure, Bubba is a character and likes to clown around but should that be a sufficient excuse? And while everybody loves to see all of his online antics including his music videos and hovercraft adventures, and he has charmed the world with his amazing game, it’s also well documented that when the going gets tough for Watson, his reactions can be less than charming. He’s been compared to Colin Montgomerie with his touchy behaviour.
So while it may be a fact that Watson was indeed feeling that his play was being uncontrollably impacted by a severe case of allergic reaction to something or other, and perhaps it cleared up enough for him to horse around later, making videos with his buddy flipflopping into a lake, he should still be held accountable for walking away from one of the most prestigious events on the PGA tour. This kind of ire shouldn’t just be reserved for players like Tiger or McIlroy. It should be a consistent standard that applies to everyone. If that’s not the case, what is to stop anyone from coming up with a minor health concern any time their game takes a bit of a negative slide?