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Bubba Back in Action this Week at Memorial
After playing only once since his big Masters' victory in early April you'd expect Bubba Watson to be well-rested heading into this week's $6.2 million Memorial Tournament, which starts Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
But, apparently, that's not the case for the 33-year-old. Instead of taking it easy and working on his game Watson has been quite busy. Among his duties are looking for a new place to live with his wife Angie and trying to sell two houses they own; receiving the key to the city of Milton, Fla., and participating in the festivities on Bubba Watson Day; and helping Angie take care of his new son, Caleb.
"I've probably really put in about three days of good, hard practice over the last month the last couple days, not as much as I wanted to, just tired," Watson said Tuesday after playing nine holes during a practice round. "It's a different tired than we're used to, having a child. A lot of different things going on."
Despite the inactivity Watson has high hopes for the tournament, which is hosted by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. "Mr. Nicklaus is a big supporter of this tournament, his course, his tournament . . . I've been here every year . . . and looking forward to the challenge," Watson noted. "I haven't really fared as well as I want to here, but hopefully it can come together one time and I can play good."
Here's what else Watson had to tell reporters during his Q&A at Muirfield Village.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Masters champion Bubba Watson to the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. Bubba, making your seventh start here, so obviously you like the golf course and have had a little bit of success here. Maybe some opening comments about coming back to Muirfield Village.
BUBBA WATSON: Any time you can come and play where some of the greats have played, Mr. Nicklaus is a big supporter of this tournament, his course, his tournament. Any time you can come here and maybe shake his hand and just get some insight from him about the game of golf is an honor and a special thing to do. I've been here every year that I've been in the field, and looking forward to the challenge. He always has a great challenging golf course. The rough was up a little bit this morning, greens were really fast for a Tuesday. 16 is playing hard. So yeah, looking forward to the challenge again. I haven't really fared as well as I want to here, but hopefully it can come together one time and I can play good.
Q. Can you talk about how much golf you've played in the last month specifically?
BUBBA WATSON: Last month I took two, two and a half weeks off exactly, and then hit balls a little bit, played a little bit. So I've probably really put in about three days of good, hard practice over the last month the last couple days, not as much as I wanted to, just tired. It's a different tired than we're used to, having a child. A lot of different things going on. My mind works differently, as we know throughout the years, so for me my mind is racing any time you hear noise, any time you hear something. You know, it's just different. But I got energized as soon as I got here. I got here Sunday afternoon. I got energized, looking forward to the challenge of being out here and beating some of the great players, and Dufner. Trying to compete again. That's what I've been missing. I miss the game of golf, miss playing, miss competing, miss trying for championships. So I didn't play as much as I wanted to basically is what I'm saying.
Q. In the last six weeks you've had to learn how to be a father and how to be a major champion. How do you give yourself a break and learn how to relax?
BUBBA WATSON: That's the tough part. That's the challenge. A lot of stuff was going on in my mind. A lot of stuff is still going on in my life. The adoption is still not finalized. We're trying to move into a new house. Haven't found the house we want to move into in Orlando, but we've been searching all the time. Seems like we've looked at so many houses. We're trying to sell our other two houses. All these things are going on in our life. Then we won a major championship.
The kid was more important. Took four years to process, some bad health, some moving states, all these kind of things. A lot of stuff going on in our life, a lot of positive things, nothing bad, a lot of positive. But it's just different changes. So dealing with a major championship is a totally different level. You dream of winning a major championship, but then actually pulling it off, you don't know how to deal with it. I've never dreamed that far. That's what I said, because you don't, you don't think about what comes with it. People actually know your name now, so it's a little different.
So it's a learning process, and hopefully I can get the rust off my game pretty quick when I start this week. But hopefully I can still play good golf for the rest of the year. After my second win last year, I didn't really play good golf. I didn't know how to deal with that, winning two times in a year. But I learned quickly, and hopefully I learn a lot quicker this time after a major that I can just keep playing and play quality golf.
Q. You mentioned things that come with winning a major. Do you like the things that come with winning a major?
BUBBA WATSON: We always like big accomplishments in our life. It's just challenges you never think of. It's just things that you never thought of. I've got a lot more friends than I used to have. I wasn't very popular before, but now I've got a little more popular. It's just everybody - not in a mean way, everybody wants something from you. Can you help this, can you help that. You've got to say no. It's not that you're being mean. You've got to have time for yourself, with your wife, with your child. Manager seems like he wants a lot of time, as well.
But it's just a learning thing, but it's just - I'm hoping that I can learn fast and just keep going. I want to win more. I don't want to be just one win and go home. I want to keep competing. I want to keep playing good golf. I love playing in all these team events; the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and now the Ryder Cup this year. So I hope I can make that. Then we'll find out the new captain and try to make the Presidents Cup here next year.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk with Jack yet this week and will you seek him out? Obviously he's most synonymous with winning majors, and you're in that club now and he's obviously the king of that club.
BUBBA WATSON: He's won a few. I'm not going to seek him out. If we happen to cross paths. Hopefully I seek him out on Sunday afternoon real late, that would be a great time to meet him for the first time this week. If I run into him if he happens to be in the locker room, usually when there's a weather delay he's usually helping around the locker room, so we usually talk to him then. So it looks like there might be a weather delay sometime this week, so we'll probably run into each other then.
Q. In New Orleans you talked about having more media responsibilities and the pressures that come along with that. What are your feelings on that now? And sort of a two part question, Tiger Woods is having his second online chat later today. Is that something you would ever consider, and what do you think of that?
BUBBA WATSON: First part was media responsibilities, right?
BUBBA WATSON: That was a lot of stuff.
BUBBA WATSON: I'm not that smart, you've got to slow that down. Raise your hand a second time (laughter). You know, it is. It's different media, different media obligations. Sponsors want more of your time. There's a lot of people that want more of your time, and the sponsors are obviously going to get more of your time because they're the ones helping you pay your bills.
It's not a bad thing, it's just different. It's something that you're not used to. Normally when one reporter talks to you at a tournament it's no big deal. You talk to anybody because normally nobody wants to talk to you. So now everybody wants to talk to you, so now you have to pick and choose wisely. The people that write good stories. That's why I keep dodging you. It makes sense. It's one of those things where you have to just weigh your situation and see - and golf comes first. My manager always preaches golf comes first. That's what got me here, that's what's going to keep me here. So I have to be a golfer first and then worry about the other stuff and what fits the schedule the best and doesn't change my routine.
Second part was Tiger's online chat? I actually think it's neat. It's a neat idea. I can see that working out for me. Again, I don't come to the media center as much as he does, so I still like this. I feel cool up here. I think it's just something different, but yeah, I could see doing something like that, but I'd still come to the local media and talk here. He does it every week no matter how he plays, so it's still new to me.
Q. The concert that you've got tonight -
BUBBA WATSON: Bubba's Bash.
Q. Is this the first time you've had it, and are you planning to have it like once a year or more than once a year, or is that at Tour sites or what?
BUBBA WATSON: That part is up in the air, where I'm going to have it every year. This year I ran into a promoter that happened to be out of Columbus here. We worked a deal out, told him what I wanted to do, told him my dreams in my head, and we made it happen. We're trying to raise money for the Bubba and Angie Medical Center in Kenya, and tonight is the first time, ten artists, Christian artists, just have an outreach, just trying to hopefully be a positive influence on people's lives. I wanted to do something different. I love listening to Christian rap, so I brought in about six rappers and some other guys and a young lady, and we're going to have fun tonight. Waffle House is going to provide us with some food, and hopefully we're going to keep it going. I'm trying to move to Orlando, so we'll start it down in Orlando, maybe run it during Bay Hill week. Who knows. We haven't got that far yet. We're trying to get through the first time first and go from there.
Q. Who's the promoter?
BUBBA WATSON: It's Rush Concerts, I think, who's doing it.
Q. How did you take your hash browns?
BUBBA WATSON: Covered. That's it. Just cover them, a lot of ketchup.
Q. You said the adoption wasn't finalized.
BUBBA WATSON: My check hasn't cleared yet (laughter). No, you know, it's just a long process with the court systems, the governments, the states, different laws. We're adopting a child from Florida. Our main residence is in Arizona, so there are just different laws we have to battle with - not "battle," but we have to deal with certain laws and do everything the right way, so it takes a lot of time. The situation popped in our life really quick, and we accepted it, and we just haven't been through all the paperwork yet, so now we're just battling through it.
Q. When you're talking about all the demands on you after winning the Masters -
BUBBA WATSON: I haven't had time to shave yet.
Q. Does it give you a greater appreciation or understanding of guys with multiple majors or guys like Tiger, the demands they must go through after so many of those?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it's amazing, the guys I've talked to. I wasn't around when Jack was winning in his heyday, or Arnold, so Tiger, all the tournaments he's won, over 70 tournaments, and every day of his life somebody wants to interview him, somebody wants to do this, somebody wants to do that, and I think I'm tired. I think I'm beat. And he's - I'm nowhere near Tiger's status. I'm nowhere near Tiger's fame, I guess you'd call it, his career. Phil Mickelson's - we can go down the list, Davis Love, who's won 20 times or 21 times. I mean, I'm nothing compared to those guys' careers. Their media attention, they're moving the needle in the game of golf is different than mine, and I think I'm getting hounded. Those guys, Rory getting hounded now. You know, it's just - yeah, it's amazing to see the difference just by winning one golf tournament, how much your life changes, in a positive way. It's just different. It's something you never could imagine it would go that way and be that wild.
Q. When you went home with Caleb, the trial run on the travel, how did people react? This was the first time you were going home as a major championship, and if you talk to people around Milton and Pensacola, you get the idea people were surprised as you were to pull off a major championship, they were even more surprised. Do you pick up on that? What was it like being back home?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, it was nice. It was nice to go home right around Mother's Day. My sister hasn't seen Caleb yet. The two nephews hadn't seen Caleb. My close friends, the people I still work with and deal with on a daily basis down there. It was nice to go back. I didn't really pick up on they didn't believe I could do it or think I could do it. It was just fun to be there and celebrate. I had a private dinner one night at a location and had about 20 people there, my close friends, and it was good to be back and just tell them that this was for them, Hiram Cook, who gave me my first 9-iron, first time I saw him, gave him a hug and said thank you. It was good to go back and do that and be there with people who supported me through all this time and actually pull the shot off and win the green jacket. It was just about celebrating with them and making sure they knew it was all for them and it wasn't just me winning the jacket, it was them winning, as well.
And then going back and getting the key to the city of Milton and then getting the key to the city of Pensacola, throwing out the first pitch of the local team there, the Blue Wahoos. No, it was fun, it was fun to go back and do that. I can see where they would be surprised. Mr. Cook, who gave me the 9 iron when I was 6, probably didn't think nothing of it, just gave me an old left handed club, and now I'm Masters champion and we're talking about it and talking about the old days, plastic golf balls, never having lessons. You know, it's just - when you reminisce on stuff like that, it's just amazing. I think we all get overwhelmed with it and emotional with it, but it was a good time to go back and see everybody. Everybody was supportive, but yeah, it was just different, I guess you'd say, just crazy, a wild time.
Q. You mentioned other guys moving the needle in golf, but there's been a bit of an explosion in I guess Bubba golf, guys trying to move the ball, hit it a mile, do things a little bit differently. How does that emulation sit with you, and I know you've never had lessons but would you give them in Bubba golf?
BUBBA WATSON: Let's answer that first part. I've always thought about having my own school of golf, Bubba school of golf, doing a building, having the facility, make it up nice and then just tell them to hit balls and just practice. That's all I'd tell them, and then I'd ask for my money. (Laughter.) I've always had a dream to do that. It would just be fun, just have one golf course, pick out one spot and call it the Bubba school of golf.
You know, moving the needle, I mean, yeah, at the time it was the story, Bubba golf. You know, for me I just play the game of golf because I love it. I'm not trying to change the world by golf. I'm just trying to change the world by my influence and hopefully be a positive impact on a lot of people. Golf just gives me the avenue to do that. So for me it's just - I just play golf because I love it. I love the surprise of the different shots. I hit in the trees a lot, so surprised if I have a gap, if I don't have a gap. Trying to make it through those gaps. So I'm just having fun with the game of golf, and if people love it, that's great. The more fans the better because then I can show off more in some of the wild spots I hit the ball.
But moving the needle and being like the impact of Jack, Arnold, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tiger, Phil, Vijay, Ernie Els, I mean, those are legends. For me it's - I've only one won time, one major. I've still got a long way to go before I can even come close to those guys.
Q. Do you remember the first time that you met Jack and what was going through your mind the first time you met Jack Nicklaus?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I played in - I think the first time here I did the clinic with him, he did the junior clinic on the range, so first time I met him, I had to hit my driver in front of him, and everybody always saw me as a long hitter. I think it was my rookie season, so he's talking to them, and he's telling me to hit the ball in front of them, and I was so scared to hit it. But I had to hit it good. I had to show off for Jack. How are you going to impress Jack.
I just kept hitting it hard, and I was hoping it would go out so fast that he couldn't see it, so I could go, yeah, it went a long way. He had some age, so hopefully his eyes weren't that good so he couldn't see if it was going right to left or right to left, he would just see it go real fast. Yeah, that was the first time I met him was on the little clinic he did. It's impressive. It's nice to shake a legend like that's hand. Did a lot for the sport, kept the game going, kept the game interesting, got the game to grow to where it is today and then other guys have taken it to the next level.
Q. I don't know the last time you might have taken this much time off from the game, but considering the way you've played the last day or so here, what are your expectations for this week?
BUBBA WATSON: Whoa, to play all four days hopefully. My expectations are high. Top 25, top 20. My worst finish is 18th, so I want to keep that going. I've had some good finishes lately. My mind has been in the right spot lately, so hopefully I can keep that going. Jason Dufner seems like he's doing pretty good, Zach Johnson is doing pretty good, Rickie is top five every week. I want to be that guy, too, I want to start top 10 all the time or top 20 all the time. Sunday afternoon I want to have a chance to win a golf tournament.
Q. This is only your second tournament in almost two months now. I'm just curious when you talk about the adjustments as a major champion and the time demands, bigger adjustments at home, is it probably a good thing that's happened that you've been away for so long, away from the public, from us?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, you can turn your phone off or lock down yourself at Isleworth and nobody can get to you and just spend time with the family, play golf when I want to. It's been a good thing. It's been relaxing, rewarding. It's been fun. You know, who knows how I'm going to play because I'm going to be rusty. It's going to be that way. I'm going to be down, I'm going to be up, I'm going to be happy, I'm going to be sad. You're going to feel the nerves for the first time in basically two months, even though I played that one tournament. You're going to feel nerves that you haven't felt over a three-footer. Right now a three footer is easy back at home. So hopefully I can get over that pretty quick and hit some quality shots.
When you hit a couple quality shots early it gets you into the round, gets your head in the game. Your caddie is talking to you, he's trying to pump you up, do all those things. For me it's going to be hopefully fight through the rust and the nerves real quick, make some putts and hit some good drives. My game revolves around hitting good tee shots. My iron game is pretty decent. It's just about hitting the3 tee shots in play where I can advance it towards the green.
Q. Do you think people look at you differently?
BUBBA WATSON: Probably because they didn't realize how good looking I am now. I did my hair the other day, so it's looking nice right now.
Q. You did your hair meaning what?
BUBBA WATSON: I got my hair cut. I got my hair did. That's what we say.
Q. Obviously you're the only one now that can win the Grand Slam this year. Taking this time off, you hopefully are going to have a good week here. What are your expectations for the U.S. Open?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't think anybody has good expectations for that club. This is all I've heard. I've heard the fairways slope the other way and you're trying to cut it or draw it into the fairways and typically don't hit fairways there. I remember Payne Stewart's putt rolled up, rolled all the way back to him. They've added some length. So I think it's going to be great. Everybody is going to be excited about playing that golf course. I can't wait to get there. My expectations are like every week, to play good golf. You can play great golf and lose a golf tournament because somebody else can play just a little bit better that week. So I'm just looking to play good golf, make all the cuts, have a chance on Sunday. That's the ultimate goal.
I mean, yeah, who doesn't want to win the next tournament they play in or the next major. Who doesn't want to win the Grand Slam? We all want to do that. But that doesn't mean we're going to do it. Nobody's done it yet. I'm going to give it my best effort and hopefully I have a good shot on Sunday.
Q. Just to clarify, when will you get in there?
BUBBA WATSON: Where?
Q. To San Francisco.
BUBBA WATSON: That's a long way off, man. We'll say Sunday before. Is that good?
Q. The 12th hole here reminds a lot of people of the 12th hole at Augusta National. Do you see it that way, and how do you play it?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I don't see it that way. There's a lot more water at this one. I see that back right pin here is more difficult, longer shot, longer distance, so it makes it more difficult. The wind, I can see the wind playing tricks on your mind, seeing the wind swirling differently because of the big trees, and that part is similar, but the golf hole itself, it's longer, seems like a narrower target because of the water and the way the bank is and everything. It seems harder to control a longer club than at Augusta. Augusta, the most I hit at Augusta is a 9 iron. I'll be lucky to hit 9 iron at 12 here.
Q. The 15th hole here is the last par 5. Do you look at that as the last chance to attack?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, that hole sets up tough for me. Driver is too much. If I hit driver straightaway, it goes too far. My 4 wood at 17 degrees loft doesn't get up the hill far enough. It just plugs in the upslope. So it's a tough hole for me. I'm going to have to hit two good 4 woods to get in there in two. For me it's somehow have a birdie putt and try to make a birdie and get out of there. Unless it's into the wind, then I can hit driver and come on top of the flat up there and have a 9 iron in. So it's a difficult hole for me especially wanting to cut it off the tee with the tree lines. So for me I'm trying to hang on.
Q. You strike me as somebody who might be running in there every night to see if the kid is breathing. What kind of dad are you?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, with the new technology nowadays, they have these monitors where he's in a different room and we have this monitor that's turned up all the way just so we don't miss a peep, and you can always see him at all times, so we just look over at the monitor. My wife is very special because she lets me sleep and she gets up when he is cranky or needs to eat. So I've been able to - I go to bed around 11:00 or 12:00 and I've been waking up around 8:30, 9:00, so she tells me what he did during the middle of the night. She's very special.
Q. What's your schedule?
BUBBA WATSON: Pro am tomorrow about 8:30.
Q. Tournament wise what are you looking at? What other tournaments besides Memorial this week and the United States Open?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm definitely going to play Travelers.
Q. Is that all you have planned?
BUBBA WATSON: Listen, I barely know what I wore this morning, so let's just keep it going slow. I'm going to play the British, the Open, and I'm going to play Akron, the Schüco Open in Germany, I'm going to play Akron, and then I'm going to play Akron, the PGA Championship, and then the Playoffs. There's my schedule.
MODERATOR: Bubba Watson, thank you. Good luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.