Featured Golf News
Bubba Continues to Enchant
After conducting an interview on Tuesday that was an emotional rollercoaster, Bubba Watson hosted the traditional Champions Dinner later that evening. The reigning Masters' winner gets to select the menu for the dinner, attended by all previous champions.
There was a lot of mystery - induced by Watson himself - about what he'd be serving his fellow green jacket wearers. As usual, Watson did something that was different but not that unusual for him: the menu included chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread and macaroni and cheese.
Watson met with reporters Tuesday and discussed a variety of subjects, including what he did with his new green jacket after bringing it home last year. His tears flowed as Watson said, "Out of respect and honor for Augusta National, as one of greatest clubs we have, as one of 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 (wiping away tears). That ends our press conference (laughter)."
But there was far more. Here's what else Bubba had to say.
MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It's a real pleasure to welcome back our 2012 Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, to Augusta National. Returning for his fifth appearance, Bubba won the 2012 Masters on the second playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen by making a par on No. 10. We all remember that rather miraculous shot he made from the pine straw well right of the fairway on No. 10, which set up, of course, the tournament clinching par. Bubba, I know it's been an extraordinary year for you in many respects, and we are very happy to have you back here for this pre tournament interview. Why don't we maybe take an opening statement from you, and then we'll turn it over for Q&A. Welcome back.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you very much. You know, it's been a crazy year, a great year, golf and off the course. But you know, coming back, it's just, it was fun, defending champ, I got to bring a guest so my wife played 18 holes with me on Sunday, what a dream, what an honor. And on a different topic, what is it, the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship, I think that's a special thing and I'm glad to see organizations come together and do that. I think that's amazing for kids at that age to be a part of something like that, but also be a part of Augusta National and maybe get the dream to come here and see this place. That was a big deal and that was cool to see yesterday.
Q. I'm sure you've noticed that one of the most popular spots for Patrons here is that spot on No. 10. Have you noticed people and have you gone back there and seen that spot?
BUBBA WATSON: There's a funny story on the first tee this morning before I teed off. Sunday when me and my wife were playing, we were coming down off of 18 tee, there was a group of guys over there, three guys over there. Couldn't see who it was, and I yelled at them and I said, "No, that's not the spot, it's a little over." Just joking with them, and they saw it was me. And come to find out it was Billy Casper and his son. Kind of funny. I didn't know that, because I couldn't see through the trees. I'm getting old, so I couldn't see who it was.
Q. On that note, I went to that spot yesterday. I don't play left handed, but I can't imagine conceiving that shot even from the other side or anywhere. How many professional golfers alive today do you think would conceive that shot, have the ability to pull it off, and then try to pull it off?
BUBBA WATSON: A lot of professional golfers can see it. A lot of people can see it. Doing it's the hard part. I think the situation, lefties would have the best chance. It's all about speed with the clubhead. I think a righty, it would be hard because you have to hit such a higher club, I think 4 iron, 5 iron, to hit it that low, because you're cutting the ball, slicing the ball.
But I'm just obviously going to say, I'm the only one that can do it (laughter). I'm the only one that had a chance to do it.
Q. Did winning the Masters or the way you won it with that shot change how you view yourself far as what you're capable of in golf?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, this is the mecca. This is the ultimate as a golfer, the Masters. We play the same golf courses every year. We see the beauty every year. We see heroic shots every year, because it's the same venue every year, so it's easy to compare and see other things that happen throughout the history of the game. I never dreamed - like I said before, I've never dreamed this far. Actually, as a 12 year old making putts on the putting green, it's easy to make putts to win the Masters, but to actually do it, that 8 incher that I made to win was a tough 8 incher. So for me, no, I don't see that I'm a hero, a great of the game. But to myself, I can see that I can see that I can compete at a high level at certain moments. You know, I'm not as consistent as some of the guys, I'm not up there every year, but any moment I have a chance to win.
Q. When you and your wife played Sunday, or any other time, do you go back over there and try to hit it again and try to do it again just for the sake of saying, let me see if I can do it again?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I would never hit it again. Well, unless Thursday through Sunday - I've been known to hit it in the trees (laughter), but I'll lay up so I won't look as bad.
Q. You'll never go over there and try to do that again?
BUBBA WATSON: Not on purpose. But no, I would never do it - I think that for me, I have to try to get my name to keep going throughout history, so I don't want to hit it again. I don't want anybody to see the bad shots.
Q. I believe when you've gone to visit Angie's family outside Toronto, you've been to a little club called Bushwood. Have you been back there as Masters champion? If so, what was the reaction?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I haven't been back, so busy with the family. Obviously my in laws, her dad, wants to play golf in the south in warmer conditions during our off season, so they come down during Christmas and stuff where we are.
Q. Just wondering if you can maybe compare a little bit about where your game was last year and where you are now coming into your defense?
BUBBA WATSON: Obviously my stats probably show that I was better last year. My mind, my physical, my preparation, is the same. I feel good, feel confident. But obviously as we know, golf is a tough game, and you know, you can win the week before and then miss the cut the next week. We've seen that. We've seen it where you miss the cut and then you win. I don't really look at it that way. I just look at it as it's a different year, getting older, different conditions. So who knows how I'll play. I could miss the cut; I could win. You never know what's going to happen. I feel the same, I feel good. But if you're a stats guy, you look and say, Bubba is not playing as good as last year.
Q. What is the most interesting thing you did with or in your green jacket?
BUBBA WATSON: 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 - probably cry again, but he said, yeah, that's your green jacket that you're taking home (tearing up). Thanks for bringing this up (laughter). But I told him that I was going to go home and wrap Caleb up in it.
Q. I'm glad I asked. Thanks, Bubba.
BUBBA WATSON: Me, too. That's the only thing I did with it. Out of respect, out of honor (pausing) -
MODERATOR: Let's go to the next question.
BUBBA WATSON: I'll finish this one, try to. Out of respect and honor for Augusta National, as one of greatest clubs we have, as one of 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 (wiping away tears). That ends our press conference (laughter).
Q. Not to wear this subject out, but yesterday Pádraig Harrington went down to the spot -
BUBBA WATSON: Did he hit it better than me?
Q. He took a practice swing left handed, didn't have a ball and didn't do it, and he was wondering why there was no plaque down there. Would you like to see a plaque?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, who wouldn't want to see a plaque that says Bubba in the middle of the pine straw? (Laughter). But yes, I would never ask for a plaque. If I do it again this year, then yes, there should be a plaque.
Q. Aside from owning a green jacket, what is the biggest difference between the guy who showed up here last year and the guy who is here this year? And as a follow up, have you decided on your - or would you reveal your Champions Dinner menu?
BUBBA WATSON: Let's go to the first part. The difference between last year and this year, last year, I didn't know if I would ever be back to the Masters. Now I know for a fact I should be back to the Masters every year unless I do something wrong and they say I did something wrong and I can't come back, so we'll try to keep that on the good side. The Champions Dinner, no, this might be my one chance to pick the dinner, and I've chosen not to speak on it. Truthfully I told the Masters and Augusta back in November what it was and I haven't told anybody since. I'm not sure if my wife knows what's on there, or she might have forgot.
Q. Who is the biggest star on The Golf Boys, and have you considered going solo?
BUBBA WATSON: The biggest star is obviously me and the weakest star is obviously me because I cry a lot. But yes, I thought about going solo. I figure I can do better without them (laughter). My outfit is the best. No, it's fun, we had a blast doing it and hopefully the guys enjoy it and we'll keep doing it, yeah.
Q. How would you say you've adjusted to your new found fame over the last year and how much has that affected your on course performance?
BUBBA WATSON: Pretty good, I don't cry anymore, just go through life (laughter). The way I see it is, I've been blessed to do what I do for a living. I enjoy it. Now I'm blessed to have a green jacket. But my platform has changed. I can do some good in this world, I guess you'd say. I can do some good things off the course. But obviously I can do better things if I play good golf. That just keeps building my fan base. But the charity dollars, the fun things that I do off the course.
We have got a hospital being built right now in Kenya, so there's some fun things off the course that I'm doing that I really enjoy doing and being a part of; I have Bubba's Bash concerts. So that stuff is more important than my fame and everything. It's just because my platform is higher now where I can do some good in this world.
Q. With all the attention, do you think that has affected your performance at all?
BUBBA WATSON: No. Five years ago, I'd never won a golf tournament. And now sitting here, I've won four and one happens to be the Masters. I think it's just golf. Golf goes in trends. Americans won so many tournaments in a row and then somebody outside won. We won The Ryder Cup a few times, we've lost the Ryder Cup a few times. I think golf is like any sport, it goes a few years this way, a few years that way.
Q. Was Caleb able to make the trip this year, and are we going to see him out here?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes. He'll be somewhat caddie for me at the Par 3 tomorrow. I guess we'll be carrying him, so I guess we'll be caddying him. Not quite walking yet.
Q. Have you ever seen the ring you bought last year?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, every time I see Paul's wife, she shows it to me and we always make a joke out of it, let me see that ring I got.
Q. Going to be more careful in your practice round commitments?
BUBBA WATSON: No, no, I'd buy a ring every year if it means I was going to get a green jacket. You would, too.
Q. You mentioned how fun it is to do The Golf Boys videos and obviously it goes to charity, as well. Do you think it's brought in a different audience to the PGA Tour, maybe a younger audience, to see you guys goofing around a little bit and having fun and realizing that you guys are normal guys that like to goof around and have fun?
BUBBA WATSON: Golf is a tough one to show personalities, because we are so focused on the golf course, we're focused on a tough golf course like this. It's tough to interact with fans. So for us, you know, everybody has a charity golf tournament, all golfers do that because they're good at it. We just did it a different way. We came together and said let's have some fun, let's goof around and show our personalities, let's grow our brand but also grow the game of golf, also raise a few charity dollars. Yeah, it shows the fun side, and there's definitely kids out there that definitely who doesn't want to be like Rickie Fowler? Ben is a little older, so he doesn't really count. He's just in there to try to get some publicity. Hunter, he's a real quiet guy, but it shows the fun side of him. So for me, I'm boring, as well, so shows the fun side of myself.
Q. As someone whose mind admittedly races sometimes, how do you - when it comes down to those last few holes on Sunday, how do you figure out the balance between knowing what's going on around you and what's going on right in front of you?
BUBBA WATSON: I think the high stress situation makes you get hyper focused what's going on. Last year, let's just take last year. I birdied 16, tied for the lead, and then I sliced the tee shot on 17. I had a difficult shot on 17, which I think was probably tougher than the shot on 10, but hit the shot out of there. I wanted it to draw, but it went in there about 40 feet. So that shot was really tough. But I think I just got so focused on it, just like the shot on 10 to win. Got so focused, so hyper focused on it that I wasn't looking at the crowd and I didn't hear any noise. I just played my game and was so focused on it that I never saw a bad shot or anything and just played my game. So I think when it comes to a high stress situation, it changes your attitude and your mind set and how you're going through the day.
Q. When you first started playing, did you ever imagine you would not only win a Masters but become such a fan favorite, talking about your personality and being with The Golf Boys, did you ever imagine you would get to this level of popularity?
BUBBA WATSON: What you really want to say, did I ever see myself crying at Augusta National two years in a row. You know, no. I don't think anybody if anybody goes into a sport or a career going, I'm going to get a lot of fame from this or popularity into this, then obviously they are probably not going to be as good as they can be. For me, as a kid growing up, Payne Stewart was my idol. Watching him at age 12, when I was age 12 watching him, got lucky enough to shoot in the 60s at age 12. So I knew that's what I wanted to do. Started watching, like Paul Azinger was my mom's favorite, watching him on TV. And then Tiger came around in '97, which I was just getting out of high school then. Watching that, you want to start playing.
But you're never looking at the fame, you're never looking at what it means, the popularity, the things you can do off the course like the charity dollars, you're never looking at that. And if you are, you're probably not going to last in your sport very long because you're looking at the wrong things and you're not preparing the right way. So no, I've never really put any thought into it. It just what happens when you're name is Bubba.
Q. What is the one piece of advice you would give to the 14 year old young man from China who has become the youngest ever Masters competitor?
BUBBA WATSON: My advice would be probably different than other people. I would say enjoy it. You never what's going to happen in life. Obviously, as good as he is, he's probably going to get back here, so I would tell him just to enjoy it, no matter what happens. But knowing what he's probably going through, he's probably thinking about playing good, making the cut, and having his name up on that leaderboard at some point. Who doesn't dream of that? I would tell him just to calm down, just to enjoy it, and to take it all in.
Q. If you would explain it from a technical aspect again, please, it's said that the modern ball is very, very difficult to work. How did you hit a 90 degree shot with it? Can you explain that, please?
BUBBA WATSON: Very easily, I hit it. When you look at it, I'm not technical. I've never had a lesson. I had the club a little hooded, which is going to make it draw, spin that way. For he being left handed, it's going to be a draw. So my stance was closed a little bit. Took one less club, because I was going to be swinging at it so hard. I wanted to go one less club so I could hit it as hard as could, which makes faster clubhead speed which is going to make the ball curve more. It's going to compress the ball as much as it possibly can. The ball was probably compressed, on a wedge probably compressed it 25 percent in, so at impact it was probably compressed pretty good, even off a wedge, as hard as I swung at it.
So that's really how I did it. It was all about speed, speed, my hands rolling over, and the way I set up to it with a little closed club face, de lofted it when I swung it so it went lower, and just all that working together. And how do you make that into scientific terms, I have no idea, but that's what I did. And I didn't think about it at the time. That's just what I naturally do, I just went to that stance and that setup and everything.
Q. Jack, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are the only three guys who have ever repeated at the Masters back to back. Do you think it's far fetched to think that you can do that this week and that you have everything in order and there's not enough distraction being defending champion to pull that off this week?
BUBBA WATSON: No, me as a competitor, as a believer in my game, then, yeah, I can see pulling off. It wouldn't shock me. I would still cry, but it wouldn't shock me. But you know, the way I look at it, I'm going out there and I want to make the cut because first off, I don't want to have to sit around and give somebody the green jacket. I want to be here on Sunday, playing. But at the same time, you know, it's hard. I mean, in history, looking at history, we've only seen it what, three times you've said. So it's going to be tough. But it's about not - like I did last year, not putting pressure on myself, enjoying the moment and just having fun. If I can do that, yes, I see that I have a great shot it but there's a lot of guys that are playing really good that are trying to take it from me.
Q. You mentioned the peaks and valleys the game of golf presents. With that said, does it boggle your mind what Tiger was able to do and do you think we'll ever see that kind of run again of just majors and tournament wins?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I mean, you can't really put anything past him. He's proven to everyone time and time again, changed his swing a few times, and everybody said he's in a slump. I wish I was in a slump like him. Everybody says he gets in these slumps and he's still winning and top 10ing. I've never had a slump like that. My slump is barely making the cut. And, so he's the only guy that I see right now that's proven it, that he can do it. And so he's playing good, obviously, so that would be the guy right now. There's nobody else that stand out to that level yet. Obviously with these young guys coming up there's probably a few people that can top it because again generation after generation, there's always a guy we're looking to. And Tiger, when he's done playing golf, there's going to be somebody else that we'll be chasing and trying to take pictures of because he's the new great.
Q. How many times have you been back to the spot a year ago, and have playing partners asked to go there and has there been any interesting stories when you've been back here?
BUBBA WATSON: I was here roughly two weeks ago and brought my manager who is sitting over there, with a smile on his face because he played twice. I brought a friend of mine that we grew up together, met him at age 13, I was 12, so I brought him. And so went back there, the first day that we played. Went back there, took pictures of the spot with them and with the host member that I played with. We took pictures there and the next day, we didn't care about the spot anymore, and so we didn't even look in that direction when we went to No. 10.
Then Sunday, when me and my wife were here, we went over there, because she wasn't here at the tournament. So I just showed her, because it looks totally different without the crowds and cameras and her nervous. Showed the spot there. Obviously we didn't take any pictures there me and my wife. Then I played with Rickie yesterday and Rickie didn't have any interest about going over there. Rickie was behind the green, so he told me the story from his viewpoint behind the green watching it.
Q. You tee off on Thursday with the U.S. Am champ Steven Fox. Do you treat him any different and do you tell him your experience in your first major?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm trying to beat him just like everybody else, and he's trying to beat me just like everybody else. You know, I never played in the U.S. Amateur, so obviously he could tell me a couple things, tell me some things and I could tell him some things. You know, we are playing golf. He's a competitor. He's going to try to be focused on his job and I'm going to focus on my job and that's it. Obviously if he asks questions, I'll tell him. I'll talk to anybody really. If he asks me questions, I'll talk to him about it. And obviously the more birdies I make, the more I like to talk.
Q. You mention Tiger, and he's being put up as a prohibitive favorite -
BUBBA WATSON: Every year he's put up as that.
Q. Prohibitive favorite? What's your feeling about that?
BUBBA WATSON: He's playing the best. He's No. 1 in the world. If you're No. 1 in the world, I think you should be the favorite. It would be kind of weird if he's the underdog and he's No. 1 in the world. So yeah, it would be weird if I was the favorite and he was No. 1 in the world and he's the underdog, it would be kind of weird. But no, he's playing the best. He's No. 1 in the world, that's all you need to look at.
Q. Did you donate the club and what is the process for doing that?
BUBBA WATSON: The process was I had to win first, and then they asked me after all the excitement wore off a couple days later, they asked me for the 52 degree wedge, and I gladly donated the 52 degree wedge.
Q. Twenty five years ago, Sandy Lyle hit another shot in Masters folklore, is that another shot that would merit a plaque in your opinion, if they were going to do anything like that?
BUBBA WATSON: Truthfully, I think that winners, guys that have won the tournament because of shots, certain shots that people know about, they are not really worried about a plaque. You know, that green jacket, knowing that when you show up you have a green jacket sitting there in a special locker room; that's the only plaque you need as a person, as a past champion, to see that every day when you show up at a golf tournament. But obviously there's a lot of heroic shots that we've seen throughout this championship. And that's why I think this championship is so good is that we are not changing venues, it's right here. Windy conditions, rainy conditions, cold conditions, whatever it is, but we always get to see the heroic shots on the same golf course and judge compared to the other ones. Other tournaments are changing golf courses and don't have any history behind it. But plaques are great. Who would not be honored by a plaque? But obviously if we are going to do a plaque, let's do mine first. (Laughter).
Q. Huge emphasis on that miracle shot last year but sometimes do you want people to remember four great days of golf, four conventional Masters' performance, rather than a miracle shot to win it; would you like the emphasis to be more in that direction?
BUBBA WATSON: Anything that they remember me by is good with me. If it was four great days of golf; if it was a miracle shot. And again, like I said, it's a thrill and an honor to be associated with this tournament now, this club, and every time I go in the locker room there's a green jacket like this one right here, so it's pretty nice to have.
Q. Tonight at the dinner, you'll probably get to talk to your fellow Masters winners. Do you expect to cry in that room and what do you expect from this experience?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't know what to expect. I haven't heard much. They asked me what I was serving; told them. I had lunch - I was lucky enough to have lunch with Mr. Watson, Tom Watson, yesterday, and he talked a little bit about things. He wanted to talk about the hover craft more than anything else (laughter) because he's got the 400 acre farm or whatever. I asked him a little bit, asked him how many people would be there and he told me the oldest that would be there and things like that. He told me, just listen to stories. You know when a man of his ability, his passion for the game of golf, when he's talking about listening to other people's stories, you know it's a special deal, it's a special night. He said I might have to talk, so I don't know if I have to talk tonight but obviously if I talk, I'll probably cry.
Q. Last year -
BUBBA WATSON: Make it a good one. It's the last question. Everybody's waiting for this one. (Laughter).
Q. Last year you seemed more charged up about the double eagle than the guy who hit it. What do you remember about that and what did you say to him and what do you think about that shot in retrospect?
BUBBA WATSON: Last night I watched the replay on the Golf Channel. So seeing the shot again, and knowing that it took like 22 seconds roughly for him to hit it and it to finally go in, so I was waiting a while. You know, I didn't know at the time it was the only one we've seen on TV now. And the first one on No.2. As a fan of the game of golf, I enjoy it so much that when I see a shot like that, who doesn't get excited for it. A double eagle seems more rare than a hole in one, and there was two hole in ones already that day before the double eagle. So yeah, as a fan, as a friend of his, I enjoyed that shot, and you know, I kind of hit mine pretty bad after that because I was so excited about his shot.
MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.