For Bubba Watson, the Masters has become defined by family. In 2012 he spent the week in Augusta stag, as his wife, Angie, was home in Florida, unable to leave the state because the adoption process had not yet been made final for the couple's baby boy, Caleb. Bubba is emotional by nature, and the new sensation of playing for something larger than himself was inspiring and humbling; many of the tears he shed in victory were for a baby he had only just met but already loved deeply. In 2013, Caleb made his first appearance at the par-3 tournament, which Watson calls one of the happiest moments of his career. This was all a prelude to their unforgettable victory lap last year when, after closing out his dominant win, Watson scooped up his son and strolled around the 18th green high-fiving delirious fans. "For the rest of my life," Bubba says, "when I think about the Masters, I'll think about that moment." Angie has a less pleasant memory: During the green jacket ceremony Caleb had a "massive blowout," so she was forced to lay him on the sacred sod of the practice putting green and change his diaper. "All the members saw it," she says, "and they were laughing. One member came up and said, 'Congratulations, that's the first time in history a diaper has been changed during the green jacket ceremony.' "
As Bubba prepares to defend his title, the big news in his and Angie's life is once again baby-related: This will be the first Masters for their five-month-old daughter, Dakota, whom they adopted in December. The desire to bond with Dakota explains Watson's light schedule this year, but he's not worried about being ready to answer the bell at Augusta. The Watsons live 50 yards from the driving range at Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Fla., and virtually every afternoon Bubba and Caleb wander over to work on their wedge games. Whether it's watching on TV or hanging out at the finishing hole of Tour events, Caleb has made a careful study of his dad and can mimic all the mannerisms of a Tour pro: "Whenever he holes a putt," says Bubba, "he takes off his hat and says the only thing he can think of, which is, 'Nice to meet ya!'"
Knowing that two cutie-pies are observing his every move has at last accelerated Watson's heretofore delayed maturation. "In the past I've gotten in trouble for having a bad attitude," says Bubba. "So being a dad has helped me become a better man, a softer man on the golf course because I know my son is watching, and my daughter will be. It makes it even more important to bite my tongue and make sure that I don't show too much crazy emotion."
Being a father has helped in other significant ways. "He's definitely become a more patient person, and he's realized that missing a three-footer or whatever is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things," says Angie. "Overall, he's just more calm and laid-back and able to let things go a little easier."
Bubba also feels responsibility in his unofficial role as a spokesman for the adoption process. He didn't seek the attention, but it has come anyway thanks to the public profile of his growing family. "It's been a wild journey," he says. "For many years nobody talked about adoption. I hate to say it this way, but a lot of men feel like they don't want to adopt because it doesn't make them feel like a man not having their own child. I've never felt like less of a man adopting. I look at Caleb and Dakota, and I don't think of anything else except, God made this child in somebody else's womb for us. There are so many beautiful kids out there who didn't ask to be put in a certain situation; they're just looking for love. It's a blessing for Angie and me that these beautiful kids are now ours and we get to raise them. Winning golf tournaments is great, and I hope I can keep doing it, but I know that the most important thing I'm going to do in this lifetime is be a dad to Caleb and Dakota.”