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After signing his scorecard, trying on his second green jacket in the Butler Cabin, returning to the 18th green to show off his new raiment to the patrons, and accepting the winner's check of $1.62 million, Bubba Watson's thrilling Masters Sunday was gradually winding down.
He still, however, had to meet an eager press, who had a lot of questions to ask the long-hitting lefty and folk hero from Bagdad, Fla.
It was two years ago that Watson electrified the golf world when his shot hooked 40 yards through and around the Georgia pines at Augusta National to vanquish Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death playoff, making Bubba a household name.
Watson's play on Sunday wasn't quite as spectacular, though his 360-yard drive that left him only a sand wedge in on the par-5 15th and a clinching birdie in 2014 will be similarly remembered for decades to come.
Perhaps most of all, Bubba Watson's second Masters victory will be known for his steely-eyed resolve and consistency through Amen Corner and Augusta's fabled back nine, where he went even-par to protect a three-stroke lead on one of golf's most dangerous passages and beat playing partner Jordan Spieth and Sweden's Jonas Blixt by that margin.
During his Q&A with reporters, it was clear Watson was dialed in on Sunday. "The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, probably on (caddie) Teddy (Scott).
"I know when Jordan missed on the last hole, and Teddy was helping read - I said, 'Read the putt, just help me.' When he missed and he was tapping in, I went over to him and I said, 'I'm not very good at math, but we've got four putts, right?'
"He goes, 'Yes, just lag it down.' I said, 'It's fast?' 'It's real fast.' I said, 'All right. It's a lot better for my nerves this way.' "
In addition to receiving his second green jacket, Watson rose to fourth in Monday's World Golf Ranking, preceded only by Tiger Woods (who sat out the Masters while recovering from back surgery), Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson.
Once the dust settled Sunday evening, two-time Masters' winner and 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson tweeted Bubba, "See you on the plane for Gleneagles." It looks like Tom Watson considers golf's other well-known Watson a shoo-in for a roster spot in the biennial team event, which takes place September 26-28 at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.
"I haven't thought about it," Bubba said about the Ryder Cup. "I always play Greenbrier, because it's two weeks before. It's an amazing feeling to have a chance to go to Scotland, the Home of Golf, St. Andrews. I mean, how would you not want to play golf there? I love it, going over there and playing golf, so I can't wait.
"I know a win here is double points, so I figure I made the team. It's a great feeling. Can't wait to get over there. Obviously, sorry to say that, but I'd like to win one. I haven't won a Ryder Cup yet, so that's the next big tournament I'd like to win. But no, I'd love to go over there, and again, and that's what we call the Home of Golf, so it will be great."
Here's what else the emotional, straight-talking Bubba Watson had to say during his Masters interview Sunday evening.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to introduce the 2014 and two times Masters Champion, Bubba Watson. Bubba, you've just joined a fairly small and elite group of golfers, Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros, you're getting quite accustomed to that chair you're sitting in. How does it feel?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it's overwhelming, you know, to win twice, to be with the great names that you just said; again, small town guy named Bubba now has two green jackets, it's pretty wild. I know my mom probably watched at home. I wish she was here. But yeah, it's pretty cool.
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
BUBBA WATSON: Or not (laughter).
Q. They showed a picture of the Georgia intra-squad spring football game, which do you consider the bigger accomplishment?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, obviously you always say, "Go Dogs!" But I think this jacket, I think this is for them, for everybody at University of Georgia, for the teachers that helped me, helped me and tutored me to get through school there. Preparing myself for professional golf at University of Georgia was pretty good, helped me out pretty good. I've done quite well since then. No, I always have University of Georgia on my bag and on my mind. But the green jacket is always - it's part theirs, too. Let's get that first and then we can share it.
Q. In your mind, how big were those putts on the par-3s on the front in answering Jordan?
BUBBA WATSON: Very big. You know, I hit a great shot in there and then he hit a better bunker shot. I stepped up there and made the putt. And then I hit a great shot on 6 - well, I thought I hit a great shot. And then Jordan hit a lot better. Yeah, so that was huge that I tied him on 6 before he tapped in. Then I hit two great shots on 8. 8 and 9 were really the turning point where momentum kind of went my way. Then the group in front of us and other groups, you could just tell, just nobody really caught fire. There wasn't too many birdies after No. 10, I don't think.
Q. The drive on 13, was the line that you hit it on the intended line, and did you know that it clipped a tree?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I'm not very smart, but I can tell it hit some trees, because I mean, that's not the line I really wanted to go on. I've hit it there a few times there. I've been lucky enough to play here many years ago and I've hit wedge to that hole a few times. Today I hit a sand wedge in there; I hit 56 degree sand wedge in there. I knew it, when it took off, it was cutting a little too much. I knew I hit it really hard. Obviously, when you get a roar on your tee shot, you know it's pretty good. I could start breathing again once I hear them clapping and roaring.
Q. A year ago, you didn't play very well -
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you. Thank you very much (laughter). You either (laughter). I've seen you play.
Q. Never got a chance to play.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, there's a reason for that (laughter). No, it's your turn, go ahead.
Q. The year ends without even making a Presidents Cup team or even being part of the conversation. What's changed to enable to you get back to playing this kind of golf where you've won twice already this year, got the green jacket on and you've got big things ahead of you?
BUBBA WATSON: I've always - you know, the team I have around me, we have always thought that I've had the talent. You know, I've always done it my way. We always felt like I could play golf at a high level. But then to actually do it is the hard part. After getting the green jacket the first time, 2012, winning it, you know, it's overwhelming. Again, like I said to start this off, a guy named Bubba from a small town, born in Pensacola, Florida, raised in Bagdad, it's crazy to think that you've won. So it took me a while to at the same time, adopting my son the week before threw a wrench in there, as well. Learning to be a dad and then learning to have a green jacket with you is two big things to adjust to.
So just took me a little time. You know, again, like I said, when I won in L.A., I might never win again, but I'm going to give it my best effort. I just kept - hard work, even though it doesn't look like I practice that much. Hard work; my wife's dedication. We worked out schedules, how I can practice, practice at a high level, if it's 30 minutes, in it's an hour, just get a quick practice in and then come back and be a dad and be a husband. So we figured out our schedule and how to travel better and everything, and here we are today, a couple wins later. It took me a year or so to get adjusted that I'm not really that good, I've got to keep practicing. Finally I got adjusted to it and here we are another green jacket after a year, two years.
Q. For the record, I think you played pretty good this week.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, thank you. Yesterday was probably some bad writing, that I was struggling.
Q. Can you talk about your shot on 15, what you were thinking and does that kind of personify your style?
BUBBA WATSON: On 15, are you talking about the second shot? There's a bigger, there's a taller gap. I was thinking about hitting the 8 iron up this gap, and I told my caddie, I said, "I'm not going to do that to you. You tell me what to do." I said, "If you want me to lay up, I'll lay up." Because the easier gap was the bunker, try to hit it in the bunker over there. And if it went over the bunker, hits the crowd, hits the grandstand and I get a free drop. So, you know, it was one of those things where I knew I could cut it. So I had 181 to the front and that's all the number I was worried about. Hit a low 6 iron, choked up and just cut it a little bit. And obviously still made par, bad chip. So, yeah, it was a shot that I was trying to hit in the bunker, the worst spot would be in the bunker and that's where I was trying to hit it. But you know me, I wanted to get it a little closer to the pin, and so I cut it a little bit without telling my caddie I was going to do that (laughter).
Q. Can you compare and contrast the emotions of winning it this time with a comfortable win coming down the stretch, as opposed to the last time with the miraculous and the way you did that time?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, coming down 17, 17 got a little - just like the first time I won, I got a little loose on the tee shot. Hit it over there, had to chip out to the right there. To get that up and down was very big for me, even though I'd still have a two shot lead if I didn't, to get that up and down on 17. So on 18, I just grabbed a 4 wood right away, tried to hit the fairway somehow and get it in play, and I did. It came out perfect, a little tiny draw, so I knew it was going to go out there a little far.
Yes, having a three shot lead, as long as my playing partner didn't hole it from the fairway, I was very comfortable. Hit a good shot. Attacked the pin again, as I always do, and hit a little 9 iron right on top of the flag, thought it was going to be a little better than it was but take it. So, yeah, playing this way was a lot better than obviously - a lot easier coming down the last few holes, especially the last hole, knowing that I had a couple shots to play with.
Q. You've experienced this now twice. Will you and your team treat the next six or eight months differently than you treated the six or eight months after the first time?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, the first time we treated it a lot different because of the family. My son being adopted, didn't have a male figure in his life for the first month of his life. We got him at a month old. So getting used to smell, touch, feel, sound, everything, I had to be there for my son. And so golf was the farthest thing from my mind. So I took off some tournaments. Trying to be a good husband, a good dad at that moment was the most important thing. So this one is a little bit different. My schedule is probably not going to change. So everything's the same. Everything's a go. We are trying to make The Ryder Cup Team. We are trying to win the next tournament, the next tournament we play in, trying to make the next cut. So it's a lot different situation now than it was back then.
Q. Tom Watson has already tweeted, "See you on the plane for Gleneagles." What will it mean to play a Ryder Cup in Scotland? And have you considered The Scottish Open?
BUBBA WATSON: I haven't thought about it. I always play Greenbrier, because it's two weeks before. It's an amazing feeling to have a chance to go to Scotland, the Home of Golf, St. Andrews. I mean, how would you not want to play golf there? I love it, going over there and playing golf, so I can't wait. I know a win here is double points, so I figure I made the team. It's a great feeling. Can't wait to get over there. Obviously, sorry to say that, but I'd like to win one. I haven't won a Ryder Cup yet, so that's the next big tournament I'd like to win. But no, I'd love to go over there, and again, and that's what we call the Home of Golf, so it will be great.
Q. Does this golf course suit your eye and fit your game more than any other?
BUBBA WATSON: No. My home course is really easy, so I like that (laughter). There's a couple shots. The shots that really get to me are 7. I got lucky this year because some of the tops of trees were down on 11, so it made 11 a lot easier for me. But you've got 7 and 18 now. 11 was a big one but now it's a little bit easier for me, but 18 has always been - it's been tough for me, 18 and 7. So those are the two that are really tough tee shots to look at. Obviously No. 4 is tough for everybody. No. 3, the pin placements, that's tough. So, yeah, there's only a couple tee shots that are really tough for me that I'm kind of nervous about. So other than that, yeah, the golf course sets up pretty good off the tee for me and when I'm hitting my driver halfway decent, I can kind of get some shorter irons in there.
Q. Do you feel like this victory validates you as an elite player?
BUBBA WATSON: No. No. Again, I just got lucky enough to have two green jackets. I'm just trying to keep my Tour card every year and if people say that I'm a good player, that's great. But I'm not - I'm not trying to play golf - I'm not trying to play golf for a living. I'm not trying to play golf for everybody to tell me how great I am or I'm one of the greats of the game. I play golf because I love it, I love the game, I want to grow the game. The game has brought me everything that I've ever owned in my life. My parents taught me values through the game of golf.
I think what they did today or this week on Sunday was again what golf should all be about, growing this great game, family time, seeing the family members with their kids. I mean, what a joyous occasion that is; having the ability to do that, hopefully my son can do that so I can be here on the grounds with him watching him hit. So that's really what I play the game for, is I love it. It brought me so much closer to my mom and dad. I've got a lot of friends, I've traveled the world because of this game, and that's really why I play it, because I love it. Every day it's different.
Q. Obviously there were tears after the first one and there's tears after the second one. Are you going to cry every time you win this thing, and what were the emotions that are still so obvious after winning for a second time?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, it was funny, at the yunior event on Sunday, saw Kay Cockerill, was talking to her about how great this program was that they were doing here. And she said, "I still remember the time that you cried." She interviewed me the day that I got my Tour card, it was the Nationwide Tour back then. And I cried, I could never do an interview. I was the last man to get the Tour card, and I couldn't get a word out because, I mean, what a blessing.
You think about the people that have tried and the hundreds of thousands that have tried to get their Tour card and never made it to the Tour. There's some great players that have never made it. So for me, it's a dream to be on the PGA Tour. It's a dream to win, and winning any tournament is a big deal. Winning the green jacket is a little bit bigger deal. So, yeah, I'm going to cry, because why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida? Why is he winning? So I just always ask the question why, why me. That's why I'm always going to cry, you know. I'll probably cry again tonight sometime, just thinking about it.
Q. What were your emotions when you first saw your son at the 18th green?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, tapping in the putt, there was a lot of emotions, thinking about, I knew he was back there, and I knew my wife was back there, knew my family was back there. Seeing him, what a blessing that is for us to have to go through the adoption process. There's so many kids out there that need homes, would love homes. So you know, what a dream, hate to say this because I have it on right now, but having my son means more to me than the green jacket. So when we adopted him, knowing that this young lady gave us a chance to raise her son; and so seeing him back there was just what an amazing feeling as a parent, and then throw on the green jacket on top of it just changes everything. You know, we are going to have pictures. We are going to have story time and hopefully he still likes me in about 13, 14 years, so we can talk about some of the great times we had, because he probably won't remember it until I show him the pictures.
Q. You talked about 8 and 9 being a turning point. Could you sense Jordan's frustration trying to keep up with your drives and things?
BUBBA WATSON: No. The game of golf was challenging, and so he's probably trying to hit great shots. I hit a bad shot on 10, and then he hit a shot just like mine on 10, but he got up and down. 11, he bombed it down the middle. Just didn't make the putts. I mean, the putts were difficult. Seemed like every putt we had on the back nine broke a few feet, so it's difficult. It's not like you can just go up and make a 15 footer. It's very difficult to putt around here and that's where the nerves get in real fast. So lucky for me today is that nobody really made putts coming down the stretch. So I didn't have to make putts myself. Yeah, you know, a shot back on 12, he made a great up and down, but the shot on 12, if he could have that back; I made a 10 there last year. I wish I could have that back (laughter).
That's one of those things, and just like I told him when I shook his hand, gave him a hug, I said he's a great talent and you're going to have a lot more opportunities; you're only 20. But you know, he doesn't really care what I have to say at that moment (laughter). But no, it's just one of those things, he's a young kid. I mean, everybody presses. There's a lot of tournaments that I've hit some bad shots pressing trying to win.
Q. Two years ago when you won, it was obviously very dramatic in the playoff. Do you feel guilty at all for robbing this one of excitement down the stretch?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I feel a lot better. The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, probably on Teddy. I know when Jordan missed on the last hole, and Teddy was helping read - I said, "Read the putt, just help me." When he missed and he was tapping in, I went over to him and I said, "I'm not very good at math, but we've got four putts, right?"
He goes, "Yes, just lag it down." I said, "It's fast?" "It's real fast." I said, "All right. It's a lot better for my nerves this way."
Q. Can you explain to the average guy out there, who doesn't take lessons, has never had a lesson, how you can win two green jackets in three years?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, it's hard to explain it that way. But, you know, it's a drive and a will, a lot of hard work. A lot of times amateurs don't have these same practice schedules as we do because a lot of them have to work. So our work is hitting balls and chipping and putting. You know, you have to play - you have to play your swing. You have to play what you know. Sometimes I hit a big slice off the tee to get it in play. Sometimes I hit a big draw with an iron. Just whatever makes you feel comfortable and that's what Teddy said all day, all week is what do you feel comfortable with.
He said, "If you want to hit the hard 9 instead of the easy 8, hit the hard 9. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own swing and your own game." That's what I'd tell anybody, I do what it takes to make the score. I don't care how pretty it is, I don't care if it's ugly, I don't care if it's out of the woods. I just want to make a score. Lucky for me, I've done it a couple times around this place.
MODERATOR: Bubba, could we test your memory just one more time and go through the card, we are all in awe.
BUBBA WATSON: Let's see, what do you want me to do?
MODERATOR: Just if you can go birdies and bogeys.
BUBBA WATSON: Where did I bogey - I bogeyed 3. 3, the pin is very difficult, so we told ourselves, I was just going to hit a hard driver and it just - it just didn't cut a little bit, and I thought I could get there today with the wind situation. I guess it hit the edge of the trees. We can't see it from the tree. Kicked out. The club bounced a little bit, a little downhill lie, so I hit a little 64 degree lob wedge trying to chip it and run it, hit the hill and run it down to the pin. It bounced a little bit in the club, you could hear it, or bounced a little bit into the ball, so it bounced into the ball and went long.
Hit a good next chip. Had about a 7 footer and it didn't break as much as I thought, especially after seeing Jordan's, so tapped it in for a quick bogey. Birdied 4. Good 5 iron there. Had the flag just over the bunker. It was 222 over the bunker, 233 hole after adjustments and everything. And so hit it in there about, I don't know, seven feet, six feet and made that putt. No. 6, I hit 9 iron, tried to cut 9 iron and aim right at the fringe and cut it. Didn't really cut, but it hit the fringe and just kind of drifted onto the green. Made the putt, real fast putt. Made a great putt there.
8, I hit a good drive. The wind was perfect. I hit it really good, so I knew it was going to be over the bunker, no problem. I had 247 hole after adjustments and everything. So I hit 5 iron again trying to hit it just long, downwind a little bit. And so I hit 5 iron I think to the center of the green. I fixed the ball mark just past the center of the green. Chipped it up there. The green was forgiving today and so it spun a little bit. Knocked it about two feet past and made it.
9, hit driver, wind is coming a little bit off the right. Hit driver over the trees with a little cut. Adjustments and everything, we had 130 hole, 56 degree sand wedge, trying to fly it in there pin high, which luckily I did today and made the putt, a little breaker. Broke about a foot and a half or so. Bogey on 10, awesome. Driver, sliced a driver down there. Had 190 and change, 198 or something hole, 7 iron. Just didn't cut it. I didn't want to flare it way right so I just didn't cut it. Hit it over there by the crowd. Knew that chip was impossible, so all I was trying to do was make sure I made bogey. Hit it down and almost made the putt from the fringe from about 25 feet or 20 feet. Then didn't do much after that. 13, I hit it in there, hit the drive around the corner over the trees - or hit the tree, as they told me now. Sand wedge, had exactly 140 hole with adjustments and everything, 120 front edge, hit 56 degree sand wedge in there.
And then my putt, just like I did in 2012, I had the same putt, the same eagle putt, left it four or five, six feet short, and then made it there. That was probably the biggest putt of the day right there, making that with the last few holes coming down the stretch and parred the rest.
MODERATOR: Bubba, congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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