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Bubba Ready to Start Year in Hawaii


Bubba Watson is all ready to begin his 2013 campaign. The 34-year-old lefty will be among the 30 players teeing off Friday in the PGA Tour's season opener, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

The $5.7 million event at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Maui is reserved only for winners from the previous year. Watson is there, of course, because of his thrilling victory in the Masters, the first major title of his career.

Watson is hoping to get off to a hot start. The 7,411-yard, par-73 course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw favors long hitters, and Watson certainly qualifies for that designation. He averaged 315.5 yards off the tee - nearly four yards longer than second-place Charlie Beljan - to lead the Tour in driving distance in 2012.

On Wednesday, Watson met with reporters and discussed his time off and chances this week. Here's what the native of Bagdad, Fla., had to tell reporters during the following Q&A.

MODERATOR: Bubba, welcome to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Your thoughts on being here and the last year.

BUBBA WATSON: The year was great. Winning a golf tournament is the first thing on the list and then winning a major, never know if you're going to win a major and to pull it off; and to pull it off at Augusta is a dream come true. But adopting our child is the most important thing, and spending time with him and some of the charity work we do off the course is the best part about the situation, winning the Masters is giving more of a platform to do all that stuff.

MODERATOR: Talk about coming back to Kapalua for the third time.

BUBBA WATSON: I'm excited about it. Next year, I don't know what tournament it's going to be, like eight or nine on the list, but I don't know, hopefully I can get back here. It's fun to start out the year here. A great time for the family, hanging out with friends and seeing the scenery and playing the golf course is a challenge but it's a fun time to start off the year here in Maui.

Q. Do you set goals for yourself, specific goals at the beginning of the year?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes. Next question.

Q. What are they?

BUBBA WATSON: Beginning of the year is always to win a golf tournament. Our dream - well, my dream, I don't know about other players, is to make it to Maui. This is what we have always wanted to do is to play here, qualify for this event and then come here. So for me it's about winning a golf tournament. And the second thing is making the team event. In the U.S. we have a team event every year. We don't have a year off. This year it's the Presidents Cup, so that would be the second goal. I got my Tour card for five years now. So that would have been No. 3, to keep my Tour card. But I'm good for five years.

Q. After a year like last year when you win the Masters, make the Ryder Cup Team, do you feel internal pressure or do you put pressure on yourself to match that?

BUBBA WATSON: No. I feel like now I'm just having fun. Before it was stressful, trying to get these things done, trying to win a golf tournament for the first time; I did that. Trying to back that up, I did that. And then winning a major for the first time, I did that. Now it's about just having fun and enjoying the game that I love. And hopefully grow this game but like I said before, the platform is bigger now, so my name is I've got about ten fans now. So now that my name is bigger, can hopefully raise some big charity dollars. You guys stress me out, though.

Q. When you see a 17 year old get through Q School, you're going to have a 14 year old in the Masters, do you feel like there's still a place in this game for a late bloomer, or are we going to see the next generation starting at your son's age and coming out at God knows what age?

BUBBA WATSON: You know, it's funny, I think that like Tiger, Tiger Woods has brought so much to the game across the world, not just in the U.S., just amazing things in the U.S., but across the world. And so I think the talent level, people are seeing the talent level at a younger age. Every sport now is getting younger. LeBron James at high school could have played in the NBA. You're looking at the talent level is different. People are practicing better and people are working out and people are eating better. They are training, what Tiger always says, it's not working out, he's training. So all of these people are training different. They are learning the golf swing better and sooner, so everybody is getting better.

McIlroy now is going to the other side of the world, showing them that you can do it younger, better, faster and do all these things and get in good shape. I think that's just bringing the talent level, it's going to start getting younger and younger. I think that's what Tiger has brought to the game. He's brought the atmosphere of becoming an athlete and not just a golfer; we are just athletes now. We are get stronger. We are in the gym. We are competing at a higher level and so I think that's where Tiger has made it that's what makes it tougher for Tiger to win is the talent level is getting better and better.

Q. Inaudible.

BUBBA WATSON: I think we all do. It's not that it's late bloomers. We're learning. I'm stubborn, so I do it on my own. For me I'm still learning the game and hopefully I'm improving. In the last few years, I've proved that I am getting better at the game. You know, you're seeing what works for you. I'm doing it on my own. So every winter I'm checking out what works best for me and trying to improve on that. The last few years I've gotten better and better and hopefully I get more consistent. You've seen Vijay win after 40, Kenny Perry win some big tournaments after 40.

So I think everybody is getting better. If you notice, the careers are lasting longer because we are starting to eat better, working out more, doing some stretching, getting in therapy. We are figuring out way to get better and not injure ourselves so that we can compete at a later age, I guess you could say. Probably the smartest answer I've ever given.

Q. Were you able to get away from the game and just not touch the clubs a little bit?

BUBBA WATSON: I took a couple weeks off before I went to Tiger's event and Thailand, having used those to get back in the game. When I got back from Thailand, I went to Canada for about a week with my in laws, so no clubs there. Came home for a few days, no clubs. We moved into a different house in Scottsdale, and so pack and unpack stuff there at the house, I didn't touch a club. So I started working on my game about a week ago, played like three rounds in seven days and came here. Been here since Thursday. So played a lot of golf, played like six rounds at the golf course so far this week to get back in the game. So I had a few weeks off more than normal. Normally when I'm at home without a child, I'm playing golf every day. With a child, he's helped me slowdown and relax and make me realize that there's more important things than hitting the golf course every day.

Q. I know you can't speak for other players -

BUBBA WATSON: I can; might not be right.

Q. Please speak for other players. There are some big name guys that decided not to show up this week. What can the tournament do, if anything, to make these guys come here?

BUBBA WATSON: I think you've got to look at - let's just go look from the year - if we had one more week - if they want to spend time with their families, in laws, whatever it is, Christmas, New Year's and then come over a week later. If this was a week later tournament, that would be the easy one to look at. But at the same time you have to look at the schedules are playing later, end of November, end of December. And now with the new system coming up, it really throws a wench in everything. So you can look at it way.

But for me, who would not want to come to Maui and play golf. Ride in a golf cart in pro ams and practice rounds wearing shorts, and then the tournament starts and you have to walk. But other than that it's great. It's just one of those things that just depends what people's schedules are. If they want to spend times with their family, their kids are finally out of school, so they can spend time with them and then they have to start school again and you have to take care of your kid - I haven't had that yet where I have to take my kid to school. But I'm probably going to enjoy that, taking them to school and dropping them off. It's just a tough one. There's tournaments all throughout the year that people miss. So how do you get everybody at every tournament? We just can't do it. Now we are adding tournaments, so it makes it even tougher.

Q. Charlie Beljan is an emotional sort, not unlike yourself. What did you make of him what happened at Walt Disney World, and how close have you ever come to a panic attack anywhere?

BUBBA WATSON: I've had a lot of panic attacks off the golf course. On the golf course I'm kind of in my comfort zone. Doesn't look like it but I am. I didn't watch it. I try not to watch golf because of all the negative stuff being said about people and things. So I've quit watching and reading stuff about myself. And so I heard about it. I had people ask me about it, talk about it and then I actually went back and watched a clip of it, because my wife watches Golf Channel nonstop. I went back and watched the replay and saw that it was one of those things. It was really weird at the time, I don't think many people knew what was going on but obviously maybe he needs to do that more often. He played pretty good in that situation.

So for me personally, I've had plenty of panic attacks where I thought, I actually went to the hospital three times thinking I was having something wrong with my heart and my wife is like, "What is wrong with you." So I've had some issues and I did some tests and a whole bunch of things where I had some issues.

Q. What did they say -

BUBBA WATSON: I'm nuts pretty much. I've got issues (laughing). My therapist is working on - I don't have a therapist. If I did, the therapist would probably quit.

Q. Just wondering, what do you like about Maui? What are some of the water sports you like to do on Maui?

BUBBA WATSON: You know, I'm a wimp when it comes to certain things. I love to go surfing but I'm scared of the water, weird. And we're at a golf tournament, so it's hard. If we were on vacation, I would try surfing and we would go, I think it's Black Rock by the Sheraton over there, jumped off that a few times, even though I'm scared of heights. There's some cliffs around here that I've jumped off of a few times. We love going there. I don't like to snorkel. I just like to hold my breath and go underwater and swim down to the water and see the fish and stuff. So I love playing in the water and goofing around, but try not to do it too much when the tournament is going on. So I get here a little earlier so I can do the all the water stuff and hopefully get my body some rest by the time the tournament starts.

Q. When you've gone to the hospitals, what have the doctors told you?

BUBBA WATSON: 'There's nothing wrong with you.' I've done everything. I've done EKG s, we've done tests, all kind of things. He told me basically I need medicine. I need medicine that calms me down. And I just - which I'm not going to I don't take medicine, so I would never do that.

Q. When is the last time you went?

BUBBA WATSON: From L.A. - two years ago maybe? I don't think it was last year. Two years ago in L.A. there and about two years before that. So about every two years. I'm good this year so next year I'll be ready - no, it might be this year. So this year, get ready. I'll Tweet some photos from the roomy guess. This is the most questions I've ever had at a press conference.

Q. If you have people who are taking golf seriously at a younger age, and you still see people excelling in their 40s and now you have a schedule where you can literally play every week all over the world, does something have to give at some point? Can people continue to start young, play all over the world, 12 months a year and still have success into their 40s like Vijay and Kenny?

BUBBA WATSON: We haven't seen that yet. It will be some time to see some people do that. I think that, yes, now it's about if you have the drive to do it. Stricker said he's playing less because he wants to hang with his family. I know when my child, and if we adopt some more kids, I think when my child starts school and starts playing sports, I'm going to want to be there, be the dad in the bleachers, be the dad on the golf course. We're probably not going to play football hopefully he likes sports, first of all, I guess.

So I want to be the parent there. I want to be there for my child and so my schedule might change but that's five, ten years away and hopefully I can stay on Tour for 10 more years and might think about cutting the schedule back or retiring. You know, that's one of those things. It's about drive. If a guy starts at 15 years old, or lower, and turns pro, or starts 17, 18, turns pro, play plays until he's 35, he might have other adventures he wants to do. There other things, TV shows, movies, a musician, who knows what it is. He might start wanting to give lessons on a golf course or own his own golf course. So when it comes to stuff like, that after 20 years of playing and you're only 35, you might look at it and say, there's other things I might want to do with my life and not play golf every day.

Q. Did you make any resolutions that were non golf related?

BUBBA WATSON: Yes. Every year it's the same thing, trying to being a better husband, trying to be a better dad. So this year is my first time being able to say better dad. Just trying to be the best husband and that's going to equal a better dad, because if I'm doing right with my child, my wife is going to be happy. So it goes hand and hand there. For me it's about getting healthier. I want to start eating better. As golfers, we are always on the go, so we are eating pretty bad. I want to eat better and I want to get more fit just so I can last longer in my career in whatever career options I go to later in life.

MODERATOR: We appreciate your time.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.