By Ann Liguori
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The resurgence and fine play of Tiger Woods may dominate the headlines leading up to Thursday’s start of the Masters, but it was defending Masters champ Bubba Watson who stole the show during his press conference on Tuesday morning.

With a mix of tears, long pauses to compose himself and humorous “Bubba- isms,” Watson again showed that he’s as real as it gets. He’s a breath of fresh air for golf, a positive role model for young people and a compelling figure in the game.

Here’s why Watson is the “people’s champ” and one of the most popular players in golf:

– Watson cries a lot. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to say what he feels, laughing and crying along the way. During Tuesday’s press conference, he was asked, “What is the most interesting thing you did with or in your green jacket?”

Bubba could barely get through the story.

“Well, truthfully, we were swapping stories back here, and he said — my man right here said — last year he drove me from 10 to Butler Cabin and I said, ‘Is this my green jacket?’ I’ll probably cry again, but he said, ‘Yeah, that’s your green jacket that you’re taking home.'”

Watson started tearing up at this point).

“Thanks for bringing this up,” Watson said as he started laughing  while crying) “But I told him that I was going to go home and wrap Caleb (his adopted son) up in it. That’s the only thing I did with it, out of respect, out of honor.”

Watson paused while crying to try to compose himself. And then the moderator broke in and said, “Let’s go to the next question.”

Watson said, “I’ll finish this one, try to. Out of respect and honor for Augusta National, as one of the greatest clubs we have, as one of the greatest tournaments, out of respect for them, I didn’t do any of my funny antics that I normally would do. Only thing I did was wrap Caleb up in it.”

Watson continued wiping away tears and then joked, “That ends our press conference.”

And in an instant everyone started laughing, which lightened up a moving, poignant “Bubba” moment.

-Watson has self-admittedly never taken a golf lesson in his life. His go-for-broke swing and style is his own. He’s an original in every sense of the word.

-Watson won the 2012 Masters with one of, if not THE, most memorable and unique golf shots in Masters history, hooking a 162-yard wedge shot from off the pine straw that curved approximately 40 yards onto the green on the 10th hole. He made par and beat South African Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole. For Watson, it was considered a normal recovery shot.

-As Masters champion, he was allowed to bring a guest to play on Sunday before the Masters. He brought his wife, Angie, a former professional basketball player and a very good golfer. Watson earns extra bonus points for being a devoted wife and father. He and his wife adopted a baby boy weeks before he won the Masters last year.

-Watson partnered with Oakley, the sunglasses company, and a video showing Watson driving the one-of-a-kind “Bubba Hover” got millions of views on YouTube, kicking off the new partnership. Timing is everything, and what a publicity coup for both Watson and Oakley!

-Watson and a few PGA Tour buddies participated in “The Golf Boys” video. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ll let the video speak for itself:

-The weekend after winning the Masters last year, Watson made good on his commitment to play in Tim Tebow’s charity golf tournament. He could have blown it off with his new media appearances and fame, but Watson didn’t. And he didn’t just attend Tebow’s charity dinner — he participated in the entire weekend!

-After winning the Masters, Watson took a number of weeks off to be with his wife and adopted son. His priorities are in the right place.

How this all translates to Watson winning more majors is yet to be determined. But one thing’s for sure: Watson will do it his own way, have tons of fun and gain fans along the way!

Are you a Bubba Watson fan? Do you think he’ll repeat in Augusta? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…

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