Bubba Sounds Off


Bubba Watson is coming off a short work week. After rounds of 78 and 71 at the par-70 Olympic Club, the reigning Masters champion missed the cut at the 112th U.S. Open in San Francisco.

Watson admitted during a Q&A with reporters at this week's Tour stop, the Travelers Championship, that his game took a back seat as his focus shifted to his wife and their newly adopted son following that breakthrough first major title in April at Augusta National.

"The only thing I see is I didn't really practice as much as I wanted to," he told reporters Wednsday "A month off, getting rusty at Memorial. Didn't make the putts, and if you look at my stats at Memorial and at the U. S. Open, I putted terrible. Just didn't make the putts, didn't make the 10 footers.

"At the U. S. Open you gotta make your 10 footers," added Watson, who notched his first PGA Tour win in the 2010 Travelers. "You're going to have them. I didn't make any putts over 10 feet the last few tournaments. So I just gotta putt better. Hopefully this week I putt better or hit them really close."

Also detracting from his practice time was suddenly being in great demand. During his conversation with the media on the eve of the $6 million tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, he had some advice to his friend and newly crowned U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson. Here's what the long-hitting lefty from Bagdad, Fla., had to tell reporters.

MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Bubba Watson. Bubba, a lot has happened since you won here in 2010. Do you want to talk about your thoughts coming back to this tournament where you picked up your first win on Tour?

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, this has been two years now. You know, it was a great victory, first victory. It was sad, but great. At the same time I announced that my dad was passing away of cancer. But a lot's happened. I've won a couple times, won some big events and then adopted my son. So it's been a great two years, all positive stuff. Even though seeing my dad pass away, it's great to see him not in pain anymore. So it's been two great years.

MODERATOR: Okay. Questions.

Q. Bubba, have you had a chance to see the plaque on the cart path on 18, memorable drive obviously in the final round and then your thoughts about that?

BUBBA WATSON: No, it's neat. It's neat seeing that they would do that and put a flag there where my ball landed. The more I think about it, it's pretty wild to know that it went that far. After a double bogey I guess you get pumped up and you hit one pretty far. To see it land there and actually bounce where it did, yeah, it was amazing. Pretty crazy.

Q. Tomorrow you're paired with Keegan and Webb, the last three major champions all going off at the same time. Can you talk about what that's going to be like for you guys, what you're going to talk about and any advice you've given Webb since Sunday?

BUBBA WATSON: I'm not going to talk to any of them. I'm trying to beat them. (Laughs). No, it was fun watching Keegan win when he won, you know, U. S. That was for U. S. to win again for a major and then somehow I won and watching Webb win just coming down the stretch playing solid golf. That golf course is about hanging on, not going low. So watching Webb win was good. The U. S. has won some majors now. So it's good. We got it going our way again.

But Webb texted me. We're good friends, and we were partners in the Presidents Cup. He texted me and asked what was going to be different, and I just told him, I said, you're going to have more fans. You're going to have more people wanting you to sign, and your agent's going to have more things for you to do. You're just going to have to be able to say no. You're the boss. Your agent works for you. You just gotta be able to say no and do what's right for you and your family, not what's right for other people. It's always what's right for you and your family who comes first. So I tried to give him my little advice because he asked me, but who knows if he'll listen.

Q. You kind of stole my question there a bit, but what is the hardest thing for you in terms of that after winning a major championship? It can be a life changing experience obviously, so what was the hardest part of that for you?

BUBBA WATSON: Well, for me it was a different situation for me just because we adopted our son. I was only waiting for three days, I think it was, before I left to go to the Masters. And I win the Masters and come back. I was home for a day and then I did the media and stuff. So for me my son didn't have a man's voice. So I needed to be home; I needed to be a dad. I needed to be a better husband, and all these things and golf was down the list. So I wanted to do that first.

We're still going through the adoption fun. It's not finalized yet. So I've got a lot of other things going on in my life; not just golf. There was a lot of other things that for me it was just different. It was a lot of positive stuff, but mentally draining stuff. Golf's mentally draining, but there was other stuff in my life that's mentally draining, so I'm trying to learn from that, figure out how to say no to people, how to get better at the game of golf, but also how to be a good father and good husband and balance my life in the right direction.

Q. Is it difficult to not change your approach after the success of that?

BUBBA WATSON: Approach in what aspect?

Q. In terms of golf and in terms of, like you said, demands and everything else. Is it difficult to say no?

BUBBA WATSON: I hate to say no because I mean I'm blessed to play on the PGA Tour. This is a dream job. It's a dream to win the Masters like that, and so for me to say no, it's heart breaking because there's some people you just have to say no to. So I've had to learn to deal with that, had to learn how to do a lot of things, practice really efficiently so I can go home and spend time with my son. It's all a learning process. It's not going to happen overnight. Every step of my career I've been learning. Each year my dad always said you gotta move up the ladder. So each year I've gotta find a way to improve. So every obstacle that's came in my golfing career I've found a way to get better without a coach. So it takes me a little longer to get better, but hopefully I'll learn from this and just keep moving and in the next few tournaments, maybe this tournament will start on a new path.

Q. How did you feel about the Wounded Warrior project on 17?

BUBBA WATSON: It's good. Anytime Birdie For the Brave and the military is involved or something like that. They carry your bag. I feel bad for them carrying my bag when they're protecting us and letting us play golf for a living. I feel bad for saying, hey, give me this club, carry my bag, clean my golf ball for me. But they enjoy it, so it's fun. It's fun to be around the military. The military lets us do what we want to do for free. Let's us do our jobs, and they support us. They're fighting for us, even though they don't know who we are. They fight for our freedom no matter who we are. So it's nice to see.

Q. Your first win was here. Fredrik Jacobson won his first tournament here, and there's been some others that have done that. Would you attribute that to more the course or more the caliber of the players or a little bit of both?

BUBBA WATSON: I think it's I think it would be a little bit of both. There's a lot of good players here. Any player in the field can win. It's just one of those things, it just happens here. You know, when I won, I didn't play in the U. S. Open. I didn't qualify for it. So I had two weeks off. And so I didn't play in Memphis; I didn't play in the U. S. Open. So I had two weeks off. Mad I wasn't in the U. S. Open. I think the U. S. Open was at where was it? Pebble it might have been. And so I didn't I had two weeks off, and I was frustrated. I wanted to play golf, and I was like why am I not at the U. S. Open.

And I guess that frustration meant to practice harder, and I won here. I think that might be it. You know, guys that don't play in the U. S. Open, guys that haven't been in the top 50 in the world to get into these majors are playing here or they're not getting beat up at the U. S. Open and then playing here. So it gives them a little bit more focus and more preparation. But it's just one of those things. You're going to win your first tournament somewhere. It just happens to be here for some guys.

Q. You talked a little bit about the demands on your life following the Masters win, but did you put any more pressure on yourself, did you feel any pressure when it came to your golf game like after winning the Masters did you feel any more pressure on yourself to have to perform up to a certain level? And conversely, now that Webb has won the U. S. Open do you feel any less pressure now. Do you feel a little freer in that regard?

BUBBA WATSON: No. There's always pressure, no matter what tournament you're playing in, no matter what tournament you won. There's always pressure, you put pressure on yourself because you want to perform at the highest level. But the only thing I see is I didn't really practice as much as I wanted to. A month off, getting rusty at Memorial. Didn't make the putts, and if you look at my stats at Memorial and at the U. S. Open, I putted terrible. Just didn't make the putts, didn't make the 10 footers. At the U. S. Open you gotta make your 10 footers. You're going to have them. I didn't make any putts over 10 feet the last few tournaments. So I just gotta putt better. Hopefully this week I putt better or hit them really close.

Q. Is there any one person you rely on more now without your father here to talk to about your game since you don't have a coach? Do you just rely on some other Tour guys?

BUBBA WATSON: No. Not at all. My dad taught me the basics when I was growing up, but then we didn't really talk about golf after that for the last 20 years. All he talked about to me is I need to practice. That's all he said. He said go practice. That's all he'd say. So for me it's just doing my same thing. My dad didn't really tell me what I was doing wrong or right.

Q. I'd like to ask you about a couple of holes on the back side. The 15th hole, can you talk about club selection and your strategy there?

BUBBA WATSON: For me that's a difficult hole, even though it's a short hole. It's because there's bunkers. My 4 wood is built basically like a 5 wood. I can't get my 4 wood all the way to the green. My driver's too much. I've hit it in the water a few times because I bailed out on my 4 wood. So for me I'm just trying to get it over the bunkers and just short of the green and somehow get up and down for birdie. You know, unless it's downwind, I won't be able to get there with a 4 wood. Sometimes I've hit iron off that tee just trying to place it in a better position to attack the hole. So for me, even though it's a short hole and it looks easy on TV and everything, it's still tough yardage for me.

Q. And what about the 17th hole? It usually plays pretty difficult here. It's the fifth difficult -

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah. I doubled it in 2010 when I won. Not that I'm still mad about that. (Laughs).

Q. What's your tactics there? Or why is it so tough?

BUBBA WATSON: Well, you're looking at a right hand player is looking at water, when they look up towards their yardage, they're always seeing the water. And it gets narrow down there. You got the bunkers. You don't want to hit it in the bunkers, and in between the bunkers on the left over there, there's high rough. So now you gotta try to get it out of the high rough to the green if you don't hit the fairway. So for me I'm trying to aim at the bunkers and draw it back into the fairway with a 3 iron. So it just makes it tough. Golf is all mental, so when you start thinking about all the bad stuff, you're probably not going to swing at it very good, so it's all about calming yourself down and swinging at it the right way. In 2010 I didn't swing at it very good. I hit it in the bunker and chopped it in the water. But enough about that hole.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what it was like to be at City Field the other night, throw out the first pitch?

BUBBA WATSON: It was fun. It was fun meeting some of the guys in the clubhouse, seeing some of the stuff down there, their little hitting facility. They have a base they can run underneath under there. They can do all these things for stretching. It was neat. It was neat going in the locker room, talking to the manager. And then come to find out, I forgot that Buck Showalter was the manager to the Orioles. So even though I was wearing a Mets shirt, I went over to the Orioles side and talked to all them and talked to Buck. I grew up about 20 minutes from where Buck grew up. So we played a lot of golf. I met him probably when I was like 12 or 13. He's been a manager for many different teams, and I forgot that he was with them. So I went over there and talked to him for a little while. He knew my wife, so he talked to my wife for a little bit. Yeah, so I was on both sides. I was still pulling for the Mets, though. It was fun, though.

Q. Bubba, last year you were the came in here, you were defending a championship for the first time obviously. There were a lot of distractions. Do you find it's easier to approach this tournament this year not having maybe those distractions that you had as defending champ?

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah. The distractions are they're just different distractions now. You know, I won the Masters, so definitely more fans, more things to sign, more media attention. But you know, I've missed the last few cuts because I'm putting bad, so obviously there's more distractions called bad putting, so I've gotta try to overcome that one this year. Hopefully I can I'm hitting the ball well. I hit the ball well on Friday, my last day at the U. S. Open. Had some good practice that weekend at the U. S. Open after I missed the cut. So I'm looking forward to it, playing with two good guys, two friends of mine. And you can make some birdies around here and get on a good roll, so hopefully I can turn that around and play some good golf here.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks for your time, Bubba. Good luck this weekend.

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


CBS Sports Official Partner