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TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
May 17, 2011
NATHAN GRUBE: Good morning, everyone, approaching good afternoon. My name is Nathan Grube, I'm the tournament director for the Travelers Championship. Bill Whaley, the general manager here, said the rain looks like it's moving out and we should be good this afternoon. He said it was parting and going around us so the coast is getting five inches so we should be good. The dome should be completed by next year, so we are doing indoor next year so we are excited.
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for coming out. Bubba is going to be over in a minute to spend some time with you and I will talk as little as possible.
I wanted to say thank you to a few people, I wanted to say thank you for coming, and also for those of you that participated in the long drive, thanks to PING. I know Pete is here some where, as a Bubba sponsor, they very generous. Thanks for that.
I want to start off, we are going to do a recap video from 2010, talk about a few things and we have a few key people that we definitely need to hear from this morning and we'll keep the day going along.
Always fun seeing that. I can't believe we are 30 days away from the next one.
One of the things we get excited about answering each year, the media, the fans, they say, what's new, what's happening new this we're. We set out when we launched the Travelers Championship is to create a sense of anticipation with the fans and everyone and really push the envelope on what's new with every category.
We came out with some things this year and we are very excited about them. I wanted to touch on a few of them. We tried to expand our charity message this year. What I mean by that is this, those of that you don't know, hopefully do you know this, everything we do and every event that we do, whether it's a junior Pro-Am or whether it's a breakfast one morning on site, everything has a charitable component to it.
Everything is always driven around fund-raising for charity. As an example, our junior Pro-Am for the kids, our kids get a chance on Tuesday afternoon to play with TOUR players. They play nine holes with TOUR players on the course, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We did it to where the kids qualified for that by how many money they raised for charity, not by how well they are playing, not by the low score. It's what kids are out raising the most money in their community, learn about philanthropy and the broadest message of giving back. Everything we do is a charity message and we are excited to broaden our charity message and a couple of examples.
We partnered with The First Tee of Connecticut and Wal-Mart, we have events on June 5, the first event with The First Tee of Connecticut here at TPC, really embracing their mission, trying to partner with them in a way to help them raise more money for The First Tee and we are excited about that being our kickoff to the tournament. BlumShapiro this year, we have a 5K again.
This year we brought on a new partner as a charity, Camp Courant is going to be our partner and we have them involved to raise funds and awareness for what they are doing. The Concert Series, some of you have heard about this. Wednesday we'll have a concert with Eddie Money and Saturday a concert with Huey Lewis, it's going to be a lot of fun.
That doesn't happen without The Reach Foundation and Mark Wilson. For those of you that have not met Mark, he's a man we enormous heart and a very, very broad vacation, you sit down and he's extremely creative about what he wants to do and all of the ideas revolve around how do I raise money for causes that are important to this community, raising awareness and money for the kids, and we are thrilled to be able to partner with Mark this year for the Concert Series which is going to raise money for The Reach Foundation.
Michael Bolton, the Michael Bolton Charities, Michael has been a supporter of the tournament in the past, but we have really tried to figure out how to engage Michael Bolton Charities and we are doing a concert this year on Tuesday night at the Bushnell where Michael is donating his time. We are selling tickets to the general public and raising money and awareness for the Michael Bolton Charities for what they do.
Women's Day is another one, we launched it; it sold out the same day we launched it. We are excited about that, again, raising money, not just doing events to do events but really have a philanthropic mission behind it.
Military appreciation. This is something that would not have happened without a sponsor like Saint Francis. We brought this to them a couple of years ago and said what do you think, and gotten seconds into the presentation and said we love it, how do we make it work.
We put it together last year and built off that and doing something incredible this year. We have doubled the size of the tent, it's climate controlled now and we are going out to a number of other organizations and spreading the word about what it is to say thank you to the military, being able to get in free, and being able to have a complimentary hospitality while they are here. It's one of those things, you come across those things in life that are easy to do and they are the right thing to do and that was an easy one to do.
And I want to -- I'm going to introduce Chris in a second, because Saint Francis this year, we just announced it really officially this morning. They are our presenting sponsor this year of the tournament, and Chris is going to get into more of the details about what they did and how they have been a partner and their long-term vision for the event.
Doing it as a five-year deal out to 2015 is something -- what Saint Francis Hospital Medical Center, what they represent is what it takes from the community standpoint to make this work. You need a title sponsor, you need the PGA TOUR, you need a great golf course. We have all these things but you can't run a tournament unless you have the community coming in behind it saying, this is good for us from an economic impact standpoint, it's good for us for the quality of life, recruitment of talent this.
The tournament means a lot more than just the fact that we are on TV four days in the middle of June, and Chris represents what I think is good about the number of other companies that support us and come in behind us to get behind travelers and make this event what it is today.
I'm actually going to introduce Chris. He's going to come up. He's the president and CEO of Saint Francis and we owe him a big round of applause for what Saint Francis has done as our presenting sponsor.
CHRIS DADLEZ: Thank you, Nathan. It's my distinct honor to be here with you on behalf of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. The rewards of the Travelers Championship to Connecticut are many. And we are indeed proud to call this gem of an event and nations to share.
At Saint Francis, we understand the value that the tournament contributes to the overall health and well being of our state. As such, we have proudly supported the championship for the last 22 years. This year, we especially are pleased to take our support to the next level as presenting sponsors of this magnificent event. Plans have been underway for months and the excitement continues to build within our hospital's walls as we approach June.
For the 12th year in a row, we will be providing free on-course medical attention to players, fans and volunteers. In addition, we anticipate hundreds of our employees volunteering at the food concession tents and the fan zone and the Patriots Outpost.
This year, we again share great enthusiasm for our involvement in the week long military appreciation salute for Armed Service personnel. When the opportunity presented itself, to get behind this wonderful idea last year, we are eager to pursue it. This program is our special way of saying thank you to those who served our country and serve it still today.
Our support for the military appreciation salute includes complimentary admission to the event for all active, reserved and retired military service members and their dependents, as well as discounts for U.S. veterans and in large climate-controlled Patriots Outposts, a gathering place for military personnel and their families that offers complimentary refreshments.
A military caddie program, which will give active duty military an opportunity to carry the TOUR bags for one hole during the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am and an opportunity for wounded warriors to play a threesome in the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am.
We are truly and humbly honored to support these services. We hope our military service members share our enthusiasm for this special salute and tribute.
In closing once again, we are pleased to support the championship at the presenting sponsor level, and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Travelers Championship board of directors, Nathan Grude, and his capable staff, Andy Pacet (ph) and the Travelers, the PGA TOUR and our Saint Francis employees and the countless other volunteers. This great team makes this event such a stellar success. Thank you, all.
NATHAN GRUDE: If you have not been down to the outpost, please go this year, when you have a humbling experience like Chris mentioned and you have a World War II veteran shake your head and say thank you. You want to say, for what, you're the one that's done everything. Just the amazing experience to go down there.
And really to kick off military appreciation, Chris is going to be joined by Shaun Sheridon from the Greater Hartford Jaycees Foundation and Stephen Kupcha from the Birdies For the Brave for the PGA TOUR. The Jaycees, we are proud to have them as one of the charities and they are making a $5,000 donation this morning to Birdies For the Brave.
The next person that I have the privilege of introducing, I never get tired of saying this. What makes the PGA TOUR unique is the fact that it is operated by volunteers. Again it is easy to roll off the tongue but when you say that we have 3,500 volunteers to actually put on this event, that is not happening anywhere else in professional or amateur sports. It just doesn't happen.
Jokingly I've said this before, but the last time you went to a Yankees and Red Sox game, the person selling you that Minute Maid lemonade didn't say: I took a week off and I'm thrilled to be here on my time serving you lemonade, how can I help you. It doesn't happen.
But here it takes volunteers to make this work. If we had to pay everybody to put this on, we would have nothing to give back to charity.
Tim Callahan is our volunteer chair this year and he works with 19 committees helping to manage and organize over 3,500. Please give him a round of applause because what he represents is what is good and what makes the TOUR capable of giving back what they give back to charity.
TIM CALLAHAN: Thank you, all. Like Nathan said, it takes 3,500 volunteers every year to run this tournament. It takes 1,500 volunteers a day to run the tournament.
So when you drive into the parking lot, through the gate, and through the grounds, every time you see a red shirt out there, one word comes to your mind: Volunteer. That's what we need. And without the volunteers, we cannot do this tournament at all. We have got 32 subcommittees out there, we have a job for everybody, whether you want to work inside in the air conditioning, or you want to be outside in the gallery walking with the players inside the ropes or in scoring, we have a job for everybody.
We are looking for volunteers still. If you or your company wants to partake in the experience, please sign up today. Thank you.
NATHAN GRUDE: Thank you. The next person I'm going to introduce, trying to bring all this full circle, when you stand up here and say, okay, we are the Travelers Championship, it takes a title sponsor, you talk about Saint Francis as a presenting sponsor in the community, the next gentleman I'm going to introduce what happens if all of that comes together. The money that we make goes back out to this community, 100 percent of what this tournament makes goes back out to our charities.
Travelers doesn't make a dime off this. It costs them a lot. And they are into it because every single penny goes back into the community and one of the charities that benefits from the tournament, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
If you have not been out to camp, you need to go. If you have not met someone from camp, you will know it, because when you meet someone from camp, it will stick with you forever because what they do out there and what they are doing is incredibly special and because of this tournament, lives are being changed out there in that camp on a daily basis, and we feel privileged -- I've said this before, we feel privileged to be partnering with them, as one of our charities.
So I'm going to invite Ray Shedd from Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to come up and say a few words from Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
RAY SHEDD: Thank you. Being here today is just a firm reminder of what a caring and motivated community can make possible. Here with so many camp friends, I'm compelled to share with you a secret about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and the secret is that we do not serve sick kids. We don't. Rather, we serve vivacious, joyful and inspiring children who are coping with very sick bodies. And that is a very powerful distinction that the Travelers Championship and all of you are helping to make.
This partnership is all about mobilizing a caring community to help thousands of brave and beautiful children realize that they will not be defined by their illness; that they are not a diagnosis. And that's a very, very powerful thing.
When Paul Newman founded the camp in 1988, he envisioned a safe haven just for children coping with serious illnesses and conditions that include cancer, HIV, sickle-sell anemia and hemophilia. He created a state-of-the-art facility reminiscent of a movie he loved, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Since then the camp has become a model for 14 hole in the wall camps operating around the globe, all services entirely free of charge.
As a highly transparent charity rebound The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp delivers a promise to the community supporting the Travelers Championship that funds received will make a powerful and immediate impact on the children of families in our care.
Thanks in part to the leadership of the Travelers Championship and the Travelers Company, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp returns a sense of normalcy to thousands of children and families each year whose lives have been turned upside-down by pediatric illness.
This remarkable effort extends to more families through our hospice outreach program that brings the hope and healing of camp through 20,000 bedside child visits to hospitals across the northeast. Also inspiring are the scores of Travelers and Travelers Championship staff who volunteer at the camp, sharing themselves as caring people.
Perhaps, though, what is most significant about the camp lies not in the figures of statistics but in the words of our campers themselves. I feel safe here. No one makes fun of me at camp. I make friends here. To come back to camp, it keeps me going. It's what I live for.
We are inspired by the courage and testimony of our campers, and of our camper parents, lining Timothy Beneski, who joins us here today. I invite Tim now to share with us his experience as a parent of one of the youngsters at Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Please join me in welcoming Tim.
TIMOTHY BENESKI: Thank you, Ray.
The question that was posed to us, when we were going to send our chronically-ill 7-year-old twins away to sleepaway camp, which neither my wife or I had ever done, was are you out of your mind. Believe me, my wife, Karen, and I agonized over this decision. Everyone we knew who had any experience with a Hole in the Wall Gang Camp told us how great it was.
But we had been on the roller coaster ride reserved for parents of children with serious illness. The twins were old enough, but the question loomed for us: Would we, could we dare to give up control of our sons' healthcare for a week.
On the one hand we asked, what's a week. What could happen in such a short period of time? Well, we already knew that one. They could leave the pediatricians office with a clean bill of health and within an hour, have an excruciatingly pain crisis due to their illness.
In other words a lot can happen in a week. But on the other hand, what can happen in a week. Why take this risk and send them off when, let's be honest here, what could possibly happen in a week?
What we found in the summer of 2006, is that that the world can change in a week, and it continues to get better. I would have to say that the turning point was when my younger twin, Seamus, younger by the most important minute in history according to his older brother, Jake, said to us, "I just want to be a normal kid."
Talk about a gut-wrenching comment for a parent to here.
But for us, normal was to pack up the family and move into the hospital for the weekend every four weeks. The boys needed a change.
So we took our chances and went for it. What we discovered was that it was not our kids, but our definition of normal that was flawed. At camp, our sons created a new normal for normal. For everything that made them feel hopelessly different from their peers, they found a new friend who had the same experience. They met kids who understood arthritic pain. Multiple trips to multiple doctors and parades of pills that stretches far as any par 3 on the TOUR. They found their people. But more than that, they found themselves. Unchained from all the obstacles that said, no, you can't; they found the people that said yes, you can.
The high-energy counselors at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp are amazing. I don't know how they managed to be 100 percent positive 100 percent of the time but they do. They help the campers face new challenges and increase their confidence. They give campers every opportunities for success and the campers respond.
How can one week make such a difference? Because camp is always with you. Camp has a Christmas party. Camp sends you a birthday card. Camp is in the hospital. Recently, each of my twins spent time in the hospital. Regrettably, Seamus is back in right now. On both occasions, they were able to find familiar faces, Kimbo (ph) and Brian, former counselors, now with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Hospital Outreach Program. They bring camp to those who cannot get there physically.
When my youngest son, Eammon (ph) was going through a particularly rough time at school, I called Karen Allen, director of community and family outreach, and she sent a care package, "camp in a box." A small gesture it would seem but it meant the world to my son.
So not only has camp allowed my kids to reclaim normalcy, to challenge themselves and to enjoy those things their peers can enjoy and so much more.
Camp has also taken care of my family as a whole. Session nine, the last session of the year is Sibs Week, for the healthy siblings in the family who have so often been shuttled off to grandmas or their friend's, or anybody's house, just so that mom and dad can attend to that child who is in the hospital.
My oldest son, Chauncey (ph), endured that fate. He never begrudged his brothers, but plenty of little league games, open houses and birthday parties were missed because one of his brothers was in the hospital. To hear someone say, hey, kid, you matter, too, was a life changer for Chauncey.
Additionally, Karen and I have been the beneficiary, as well. We were fortunate to have participated in COPE weekends, COPE, an acronym for Change of Pace Experience, gives parents of campers the opportunity for a weekend off, to enjoy the camp experience in a beautiful hotel where we can laugh, cry, relax and recharge.
We have been guests and host parents and we love it. I cannot explain to you how comforting it is to meet parents who get it. No need for backstory. No need for details. We have all walked the same path and can empathize with each other in a way that no one, not family, not friends can understand. It is a rare and wonderful gift.
I told Karen that I was focusing my remarks in part on the theme of what can you do in a week. Her response was, the experience of camp is so intense, it could not possibly last more than a week. I agree. The physical experience of camp lasts only one week. The changes that it makes in campers, in their siblings in, their parents and caregivers, lasts a lifetime. Thank you.
NATHAN GRUDE: As Tim tells a story, we are fortunate to be able to serve over 130 charities last year; hopefully it's 150 or 175 this year, for stories just like that. All of the charities that we support through the tournament and I wish we had time to tell them all. Tim, thank you very much.
Next I have the privilege of introducing a man with Travelers who Andy and I have worked with over the last few years to shape what we want the Travelers Championship to be. He's a lot of fun to work with and has a lot of good ideas. Patrick Kinney has been with Travelers for 28 years, he's the president of their field management and he represents our title sponsor this morning and again, I will never get tired of saying this.
We have quite possibly the best title sponsor on the PGA TOUR. I get to speak at our TOUR events and consistently people come up to me, how did you get Travelers to do this; I say, it was their idea.
I'm sorry? What? You didn't have to talk them into that?
It was their idea.
How many times a year out do you talk to them?
Times a year or day? I meet with them three or four times a week and it blows their mind.
I say, if you want to know how to be a title sponsor on the PGA TOUR, Travelers knows how to do it. We are very fortunate to have them and I would like to welcome to the podium, Patrick Kinney.
PATRICK KINNEY: Thank you, Nathan, and hopefully I'll hold it together after that story, so compelling. I am the father of four children and I really respect what you go through and wish you luck.
We are so close with Nathan, we actually do his appraisal. So Nathan, we'll be giving you that at the end of the meeting. Thank you for having us.
This is the reason why Travelers is such a committed sponsor of the Travelers Championship. Not only is the tournament good for our business; it's good for our community. But most importantly it's good for charities like Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. When hear that story and you hear how compelling it is to take care of these children, you have to want to stand up and give money and support it; it's moving. It really moves me and it moved us and that's why we are here.
The Travelers Championship has generated over 28 million dollars for local charities over the years, including 1.1 million in 2010. The fact is, it's not enough. It's important that we keep this amount growing as our true measurement of success because the charities need the money and the need continues.
This event, is also an amazing economic driving for the State of Connecticut, and we are confident it will continue to be just that.
The tournament it's constantly growing its relationships with partners in the community, and attendance remains high because of the many activities on site, the ones we keep adding, the high level of competition and the work that Nathan and his team put in the making as the best tournament on the TOUR. I hope you are as excited as we are to get the Travelers Championship underway in June.
I'm not sure we can have a better finish than last year with the three-way playoff. We are thrilled to have our defending champion, Bubba Watson, here with us again today.
First here to host today's press conference is a man who needs little introduction, Chris Berman. Chris has been on air with ESPN since the station was founded in 1979. He has been named National Sportscaster of the Year six times by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association. He also every year picks my Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl. If you could this year not, maybe we'll win.
Chris has been a great supporter of the Connecticut's PGA TOUR events for years and is known for infusing his energy into the event for which we are incredibly grateful.
Since his win here last year, Bubba has gone on to win two more PGA TOUR events for a total of three career victories. Ironically, his other TOUR wins were at tournaments sponsored by insurance companies, and he is now considered the insurance champion of the world. I'm glad we can say his first win was here at the Travelers and we hope you repeat.
Bubba was also a member of last year's Ryder Cup and is currently ranked No. 11 in the world and is the leader in the FedExCup points. Please join me in welcoming both Chris and Bubba to the stage.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's not rain we are hearing by the way, is it? Want to dispel the rumor. Our 2010 champion and one of the Graham young men of the game, Bubba Watson. We had a chance to kick it around a little bit.
BUBBA WATSON: Chris Berman, everybody. (Laughter) I was one-year-old when he started working at ESPN.
CHRIS BERMAN: No wonder my back hurts every time I watch your swing. We had the Rising Star Breakfast this morning and some will be similar, some won't. We will start because the trophy is here. Pretty good names on here.
BUBBA WATSON: Bubba Watson.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's pretty good. Snead and Palmer and Norman and Price and Lanny Wadkins and Lee Trevino and we could go on and on. You've gone on to win since, but to be on any trophy with those guys, Bubba, what is it? Have you thought about that? Have you had a chance to really --
BUBBA WATSON: You know, like I said earlier, it's amazing for a young kid to dream about making putts to win a golf tournament. To dream about making it to the PGA TOUR.
So for me to make it to the PGA TOUR and then come to play in great tournaments like the Travelers Championship, and then to have a put to win, it's amazing and when you start looking at all of these great champions that are in the Hall of Fame and all of the tournament that is they have won, to know that my name is going to be etched in there, hopefully forever and they don't try to erase it.
.but it will be etched in there and no matter what, I'll have my name on this trophy. It's an event that's been running for so many years, about as long as you've been alive.
CHRIS BERMAN: Even longer. That means it's a real old event. What, more than anything else, did you take, Bubba, from winning here? Obviously we talk about this before, too, but was it an exhale? Was it: I've won on Tour, and since then, you all know it, playoff in the PGA, one in San Diego, won in New Orleans in a playoff, always excitement, which wouldn't be you, final four in the Match Play, Ryder Cup and that's in 11 months. Did everything else fall in line golf-wise? Was it your head? What was it?
BUBBA WATSON: It was my mind. My mind got where I need to be. My dad situation passed now, but this tournament, him battling cancer, inside the ropes was my point of peace. My mind got where it needed to be. I was still focused on golf once I was in the ropes and I got to block all the back stuff or the tough situations out.
So for me, it's just I've learned that. I'm dealing with it and learned how to focus a little bit more on the golf course. It's helped out right now and everything just seems like it's steamrolling in the right direction.
You know, I believe when I believe, truly, is God's way of helping me get to this point where my dad's situation, where we don't want it, we don't pray for that, we pray for help, he's not suffering anymore. He suffered for a year; he suffered for 20 years with rheumatoid arthritis, and he's not suffering anymore. He's up in heaven watching his son play golf and I know he's enjoying it.
So for me, it's just a way that got helped me get to this situation where I can focus better and be a better husband, be a better friend.
CHRIS BERMAN: Your dad served in the Green Berets and he watched you play for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, which I know that's a goal of any young golfer.
But to put on the U.S. flag, and to represent our country, especially in a road game, and we would never compare it to what he or any of our military have and are doing, obviously, but a little bit, that was your first chance really to experience what it meant to represent the USA. Talk about the Ryder Cup experience.
BUBBA WATSON: The Ryder Cup experience was not that good because we lost. You know, it was a fun time. Like I said, Major Dan Rooney came in and gave us bomber jackets with logos and our name on, it just like a pilot would have, which I'm not smart enough to be a pilot, so I play golf.
My dad was drafted into the military. I will hopefully never be in the military. Hopefully I won't get drafted. Hopefully I can keep playing golf for a living.
So for us to have the United States flag on our shoulders, on our back, proudly representing the U.S. the best way we knew how, was an honor. It was the closest thing I'll get to being a military guy, having that flag, representing that flag, and country behind us all the way.
It's amazing in listening to the stories like Birdies For the Brave, the organizations that I helped with the Green Berets Foundation, it's amazing that they don't know us; they are fighting for us. Bullets are coming out and they are doing these things that we want them to do, and they are doing it without even knowing it.
They are giving us the freedom to play golf, giving us the freedom to do our jobs and work for ESPN. They are giving us freedom in ways that I can never repay to my dad or the other guys that are out there fighting for our freedom.
CHRIS BERMAN: By the way, this is pushing back our tee time -- and Corey Pavin who you ended up, one of the two guys along with Scott Verplank that you beat was The Ryder Cup Captain. So you and he had to go back and forth a little bit on that, like, man, I had my last chance to win, I'm 50, how could you. How does that work.
BUBBA WATSON: It was funny. We did an event earlier in the year, so I got his phone number and we did some stuff together. The Travelers week, we were texting, I saw that my tee time was supposed close to his, so we were texting back and forth and I said: I really wanted to play for and you show you how good I can be and you should pick me: And all that stuff.
And then our tee times were close to each other, so he beat me -- he was beating me after I think two days or one day and he said, "Well, I can't pick you if I can beat you."
Then I started beating him and then we went into the playoff. He goes, "Now we get to play together."
I said, "I know, but if I beat you, you're mad at me. And if you beat me, I'm mad at you." So I ended up winning and he texts me, you're right there, you're really close to making the team, just keep fighting and doing what you're doing.
And at the PGA Championship I secured my spot with the second place. It was neat beating the captain but at the same time I didn't want to make him mad. I'll take the victory and make him mad I guess.
CHRIS BERMAN: By winning here, in a playoff, now you take it to San Diego and you have two shots with Mickelson who was close. In New Orleans, you won in a playoff. Not only knowing how to win, but how to win when it's tight. Lessons from 18 both times to take with you to New Orleans and San Diego in a tight match.
BUBBA WATSON: If you go to New Orleans, New Orleans was a place -- me and Webb both got off to solid starts. We were still tied after three holes, and No. 9, the wind got up, hit in the water, made a double-bogey on par 3 No. 9. I'm down by three, but if you remember back, I was winning by one. I topped it out of the bunker, made a double-bogey on 17. Then hit this drive, chipped it up and made a 7-footer to force the playoff.
So remembering back at that time at New Orleans, I knew I had nine holes to go. It's better than one hole. I knew I had a shot and knew if I just kept doing what I was doing and just one thing that went the wrong way, no big deal, keep my head up and just keep grinding it out and hopefully everything goes my way.
And somehow a lot of things happened, penalty shot where the ball moved, if y'all didn't know about it, so we ended up tied. I remember that perfectly where I kept my head up. My caddie was in my here saying don't worry about this year, quick double-bogey, made the birdie, forced the playoff with Corey and Verplank.
So you know, I learned from that. I learned from my first win here at the Travelers that there's a lot of different ways to win. I want to win like Tiger and win by 15 shots, but the playoff is just as good, as long as you get the w.
CHRIS BERMAN: And we can all learn from Bubba that maybe we don't need any golf lessons, right, because you never had a formal golf lesson, you hit it farther than anybody, you won three times; that's the way to go.
BUBBA WATSON: For me. Maybe not for you. I've seen you swing. (Laughter).
You know, it's just the way I go about it, the way I approach it. I let the game just happen. It's all feel for me. I learned around my house, whiffle balls around my house. I don't like taking instruction from anybody. I want to be the boss. My dad always taught me to be -- there's two options, you can either be a follower or a leader, and he said you don't want to be a follower, you want to be a leader and for some reason it just stuck with me and I've always wanted to do it my way. That's where I sort of coined the phrase 'Bubba Golf, do it my way and make it more fun,' that's what I trying to do and that's what my dad was trying to do in the last tough time, year of his life.
CHRIS BERMAN: There are 44 things you're supposed to think about or check on the tee.
BUBBA WATSON: I'm glad I don't have a coach.
CHRIS BERMAN: But you get up there, you think about one or two things when you get up there.
BUBBA WATSON: If my mind is going right, if I'm in the right spot I'm thinking about my target and that's it. I think target and if that's target most of the time, it means I'm going to move it one way or the other.
The first tee, there's that cart path, and whatever, the board there, I take it right at that, and the crowd is usually sitting -- at the crowd, cart path and cut it back to the fairway. So that's all I'm thinking it, I'm thinking about aiming it over there and then cutting it, real simple. I'm not thinking about how my swing is going to look to get it do that. I'm thinking about the target and I know I want the ball to cut or fade or slice sometimes.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's all the time you hit with whiffle balls as a kid.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I just learned how to -- I do it all by my wrist. Like that drive, like a cut drive would be holding my wrist straight so it doesn't turn over and the clubface is coming in.
We had plastic balls around the house and I learned how to move it, hit it over trees, under trees, over the edge of the house, under the carport, and just learned how to move it both ways, and I played it one way and I played it the other way. I always had to learn how to shape the ball.
CHRIS BERMAN: As you told us this morning, forget the three wins and Ryder Cup and everything else, never broke a window in his house, playing with real ball, too.
BUBBA WATSON: My dad let me start going with real balls around the house and just chipping them but inside the house. That's why I use a lob-wedge from inside a hundred yards, it's always a lob-wedge unless a tree is prohibiting that. I hit a lob-wedge over the chairs and couches with real balls. My dad would let me chip and practice and I never broke a window.
Funny, my swing, some of the shots under trees and stuff, I've learned to maneuver it. Make sure I don't hit the TV. That's one of the things you learn in junior golf, first thing they tell you is don't move your ball so in the house if it was on a magazine sitting on the ground, I would hit it off the magazine.
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, I look at the course and see what it gives me. My imagination takes over and that's how I decide. My driver that I have is the ability not to hook. I want it to go one way to make it easier so I can swing as hard as I want and it won't go, I guess for me it would go right.
So I try to just look at it that way and if I have to draw it, holes that I have to draw it, it would be a 4-wood or a 3-iron off the tee so I can shape it that way.
But the first three holes for sure, setup good for me heretic and just cut it a little bit. The fourth hole is hard for everybody but it's a real tricky one for me with those bunkers there and trying not to turn it over.
Q. (You are currently leading the FedExCup points standings. What would you do with the $10 million if you won the FedExCup this year)?
BUBBA WATSON: I'd quit golf. (Laughter) Until that money ran out and then I could come back and play.
I have thought about it, because you think about it, you dream about that stuff. When you watch your friend, Jim Furyk, Tiger, Vijay, the guys that have won that, what do you do with that money?
First the government takes their cut and then you get -- I think you get the million cash and a million goes to retirement. You know, I thought about a lot of things. There's a lot of things I want to do. I have a friend right now that's wanting to start a church, so if I won it this year, I would want to be a big part of helping him pay for his church he's looking to build in North Carolina. The people that know me close to my circle, I would rather give it away than have it to myself so it would be fun to do something like that.
Q. (No mic)?
BUBBA WATSON: He asked me a question about swing coaches. It didn't come across the righted way or the media ran with it however they want to run with it.
What I was trying to say there, they were asking about swing coaches I guess Sean Foley and Sean O'Hair, a lot of Seans, they split up. They with went their separate ways and they asked me a question, and I said well, I knew they were going to run with it, so I guess I'll just go ahead and say it.
That's fine. Tiger can have any swing coach he wants, just like anybody in the world. I choose not to have a swing coach, that's fine. Anybody can do what they want to do. But I wasn't -- (indiscernible, rain falling) any swing coaches in the world, that's fine.
What I was saying, I just don't want Tiger -- I want to make sure that Tiger still -- he's the best shot-maker we've ever watched. Seve was really good, but Tiger obviously was a little better. He's on 70 times, however many times he's won in his short career, he's won that many times. He's the greatest golfer I've ever watched play. I've played many practice rounds with him.
So I've never dogged a man that's better than me that's the world's best golfer I would never say I was better than that guy. He's the best, ever. I'm never going to be -- Bubba Watson is never going to be considered the best ever unless a miracle happens in a short period of time, because I'm quitting after that ten million. (Laughter) So I'd better do it real quick.
It's one of those things where the media ran with it and Sean Foley said some stuff, but he didn't say anything bad. I talked to him on the phone. Talked to him there. Only person I haven't talked to is Tiger because he practiced early and I practiced late that week, and I didn't see him obviously on Thursday when we were both getting ready for our round.
It was just one of those things that the media just ran with it the way they wanted to, no hard feelings, we are friends, played many a practice rounds with him, I know his agent really well and just one of those things that came out the wrong way.
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: If I knew, I would win a lot more. Just for me, it's easier to not overthink. In the trees, my caddie, which he told me he was going to quit if I didn't start playing better.
The first time we worked together was in Boston, Deutsche Bank in 2006, never met him in my life. Called him on the phone, his wife just had a baby. First time I met him, he was on the range waiting for me. I told him, I said -- he's asking what can I do, what can I not do, things you have to ask, I said just remember this, if I have a swing, I have a shot.
When I'm in trouble, I get more focused, more imagination comes out, more ability comes over me. When I'm in the fairway, sometimes I get -- I just lose interest, lack of interest, whatever. Because easy shot, you don't focus -- not easy but you don't focus as much because you don't have stuff. It's like hitting on the driving range. We are all good on the driving range, because we get to chip another ball and hit it again. For me, it's just I have to learn on the fairway -- but in the trees or in the rough, that's when everything takes over and I love picturing different shots and so somehow I just got to learn that.
And we all do. We all need to get better mentally, because golf is all mental. The game is easy. You just swing it one way and swing it back the other way, but the problem is our minds start thinking about water, trees, bunkers, out-of-bounds, if you're going to beat that guy, if you're going to beat this guy. We all need to learn that but I'm getting better at it. It's just hard being mechanical or not being mechanical. That's a balance everybody is trying to figure out.
CHRIS BERMAN: Did you have heros growing up, golfing heros?
BUBBA WATSON: You.
CHRIS BERMAN: Golfing heros. Key part of that sentence.
BUBBA WATSON: You know what, I had this question earlier today. A hero of mine, a guy I looked up to in the golfing world, Payne Stewart. It was documented a few years ago, inside the ropes I was very angry, immature, just inside the ropes, though. Outside the ropes I was the fun-loving Bubba that my wife married.
But inside the ropes I was just really immature, really thinking that golf owed me something. I thought I was better than I was. Thought I should be winning. And you know, until recently, I've tried to fix the problem, and then when my dad's situation, really helped me, really showed me that golf means nothing.
So it's just -- I don't know. I've learned a lot. I've learned how to -- inside the ropes I've just dealt with it a lot better. I don't know how to explain it the right way I guess. It wasn't about his golf. It wasn't about his golf. It was about -- because I didn't know him. I never got to meet him. I just watched him on TV.
I heard stories. I don't want to call the guy out or whatever, because he's not living anymore. But I heard he was bad in the 80s, I guess angry, not as friendly. Changed his life around through -- became a man of faith, Christian man.
Obviously you start winning major championships, you get more friendly. But he was at the -- just watching him, all I saw was him was the great times, when I was getting old enough to realize what was going on on TV, he changed his life around and I got to see that. That's who I looked up to, and I like the part that he stands out because of his clothes. My dad always said if you're not going to be the best in the world you have to stand out somehow, so we decided to do the pink shaft.
So that's why he just became -- I really didn't care what his record was, how many times he won, lost, what he won, I was just looking at him as a man and that's who I followed.
CHRIS BERMAN: And we miss him.
BUBBA WATSON: I remember the day, we were at University of Georgia and I skipped class that day with some other golfers on the team, and we were sitting at our locker room, our golf area with the coach and everything and just talking about remembering and just how sad that was that day that they announced that.
CHRIS BERMAN: Did the pink shaft help you find the cart path on 18, which is about 340, right? You hit a mere 396 from the tee. Was it the pink shaft or your vision from the tee.
BUBBA WATSON: Probably my imagination and the double-bogey really helped. (Laughter).
It's funny, I hit that really hard and it just somehow luckily went far enough to hit that cart path and get up closer to the green.
CHRIS BERMAN: And you knew what you needed off the car path --
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah.
Q. What are your thoughts on the U.S. Open --
BUBBA WATSON: You want my true feelings, not my PC feelings? I'm not worried about it yet. I have two weeks off and I have Memorial first. That's the way I think. I don't look that far in advance. Memorial is a hard enough golf course. I'm trying to win there first. That's what I'm gearing up for.
I have a week off and then I'll start focusing, after Memorial I'll start focusing on what Congressional is going to be like. I have not played Congressional in a long time, so it's going to be learning a golf course. I don't remember the golf course that much at all.
CHRIS BERMAN: And a week after Congressional, Bubba is here and that will be your first chance at being a defending champ, which now you'll have at least three and hopefully more. What is it like, maybe has not hit yet, give a thought about Congressional good, question. Defending champ here, you'll come back here, it will be off the Open, but yet this is where you won. What does that mean to you, to defend it.
BUBBA WATSON: It's going to be different. It means I played good the year before because it's great. It's going to be different. The energy level is going to be different. I'm going to be pumped up, because I'm going back, all of these people still congratulating me, thanking me, all of these things.
The fans are going to be moral support, and hopefully the town likes me a little bit so I'll have the gallery following me when I'm playing on Thursday and Friday, and hopefully Saturday and Sunday. It will be different. It will be an energy level that I've never felt before.
I'll just have to figure out a way to calm myself down and realize that there's a golf tournament still to be played even though I won a year ago. It's going to be different. Something new, something I've never experienced before. It will be neat to get back here and remember some of the good shots, remember being six back starting Sunday. It's going to be a learning experience. But first thing, it's going to be more of a learning experience but hopefully I can calm down and play some good golf.
CHRIS BERMAN: Do you want to hit it farther still? You're up in the 300s. What else can you do to hit it.
BUBBA WATSON: It's funny, a lot of people are trying to hit it farther. I've never been a length guy. I've always been -- it just happens. I don't try to do it. It's something I naturally do. My dad taught me a basic swing. And as a kid, going back to the whiffle ball, as a kid, to hit the whiffle ball this much farther with a big jump, at six years old, in my imaginary holes, that was a big hit.
So for me I just learned -- as a kid I learned how to hit it harder, take it past parallel and I didn't know what I was doing at the time but I was basically building myself to be a long hitter, and my height helped. So it was just building a long hitter.
For me I've never tried to do it. It was just something I learned. So now I'm learning how to harness it and get it more into play so I can win golf tournaments. And it's easy to play from the short grass, I've learned. So I'm not trying to figure out how to hit it farther. I'm just trying to hit it straighter.
Corey Pavin, a good example, won 15 times, won the U.S. Open, I would trade his career any day of the week and be considered the shortest hitter. You can be the longest hitter and not win three. That's the way I look at it. It's just something I do. I would rather be considered the best putter in the world but longest hitter is not bad I guess.
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: No, it's not. 525,000. So it was a little more.
And if you try to steal it, there's only one in the world. If you try to sell it, we'll know if you stole it. It was sponsor, Richard Mille, from France. We worked out a deal, they wanted to do a Bubba Watson watch so this is the first prototype right here. So I got it for free, which is good on my part, and they enjoy it right now because I've had a couple of trophies with it.
What was the first one? Twitter? Twitter, it's a way -- we are doing our job out here at the Travelers Championship. We are inside the ropes and trying to focus. It might not look like it's me sometimes, but we are trying to focus and figure out a way to play the golf course or play that week good, in weather like this, good weather, whatever.
So for me to connect with the fans through Twitter, it's easy to tell them what I'm doing what, I'm thinking. People that write good comments, I try to answer those. And people that write the bad comments, I block them out, whatever. There's a lot of people that just write bad comments just to write bad comments.
Again it didn't come out right in the media, and the way I believe, if I choose to buy the watch with my own money, I can buy the watch, but it was a sponsor deal. I didn't pay for it. But again, if I wanted to, I could.
The Twitter is really about the fans. It's a way to connect with fans. Whatever job, it's hard -- I don't know if people are fans of yours, but if they were -- but you know what I mean, it's hard.
You can't stop everybody and sign autographs and talk to them about their left-handed, about they hit this shot, they bought this club, they did this, what do you think about this. You can't do that at a golf tournament. You're trying to play golf. You're trying to make a living for your family and trying to win championships and trying to hold trophies like this.
So Twitter is a great way for us to just get out there to answer a few questions here and there and just talk to fans, interact with fans. To do it at a golf tournament, you just can't do it. You would never get anything done.
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: We were talking about 10 out here, it's different than any part of this golf course. It's the tightest hole, tree-lined but if you look at it, for me, I love it, because I can hit a driver, what I call a low dink driver, and it comes off the tree and cuts in the middle of the fairway.
So for me, it makes me focused on that, it's got this perfect hallway for that shape so, that one hole, I really focus, the other holes I kind of lose it sometimes.
Golf courses like Quail Hollow, because of the rough and the fairway, they are not the same color, so it's easy for me to focus on the fairways and just distinguish between the two rough lines in the fairway.
Memorial, at Jack's tournament, Mr. Nicklaus's tournament, it's the same way. I can define, everything is defined so good.
At TPC, it was tough for me because last week at THE PLAYERS, you get the water, you get the bunkers have little mounds on them and there's a lot of things that take it my mind off what I'm supposed to be doing, hitting the fairway.
For me it's a golf course where I can easily judge the rough from the fairway or the out-of-bounds from the fairway. Like desert golf courses, desert golf courses are really defined because it goes from fairway to desert. So I really like those kind of golf courses, so yeah, it's just a golf course that's easy to define where you're supposed to hit it.
CHRIS BERMAN: Huey Lewis --
BUBBA WATSON: I have no idea who they are. (Laughter).
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: I'm just going to give you one tidbit. Going to happen in the near future. I've got two words for you. Before I tell you those two words, I'm going to build it up. (Laughter).
I should be in the media.
CHRIS BERMAN: You will be, after ten million.
BUBBA WATSON: There's going to be a group of guys, and the two words are Boy Band. I'm going to leave it at that. And it involves Ben, me and maybe a couple others. But Boy Band.
CHRIS BERMAN: That's like a clue. Like in the it Graduate, plastic.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I don't know what that is, either.
Q. (No mic).
BUBBA WATSON: My first shot of the day, I was a little tight (laughter).
CHRIS BERMAN: Now we know it can be done. Now see if we can try it. Anything else? Go for it.
BUBBA WATSON: I've got a 4-wood.
CHRIS BERMAN: The wins, you say you've cleared mentally and now you're doing other stuff, maybe it's short, more accurate, more putting, maybe it's all of at above, right. You don't contend in majors, etc., and win these events without all of a sudden, oh, my goodness from 120 and in, I'm a better player than I was a year ago. Would that be fair to say? Apparently.
BUBBA WATSON: You know, my all-around game is getting better, but my mental game that I keep talking about is the most important, because to win a golf tournament, you have to putt well. Anybody on TOUR can hit a long drive or get to a par 5 or hit it close, but if you're not making the putts, it doesn't really matter.
One to go back to really quick, Torrey Pines, I made the putt to win. I did these things. But because I won, nobody talked about, at Bob Hope, I missed the cut. I played unbelievable at Bob Hope, but I putted horrendous. I just didn't make putts, but they just didn't go in. I knew I was playing well and I knew going to Torrey Pines, I was playing great and now I have to putt on poa annua, which is not easy to putt on.
I just putted well there, and that's good. The key that I'm really doing is the mental game, trying to get better focused and then putting. That's what I've been working on the most. I put most of my energy into. Like I know it sounds weird, but last week, I played great. I finished 40-something. Not sure where I finished but in two days I shot 76. I just putted bad. I hit a lot of good shots. But I just didn't make any putts. Didn't keep the momentum going, making a birdie putt here.
So all I have been working on to get better at the game is putting. We have learned that putting is the name the game. The guys that putt well, all the time, they are the most consistent players. The guys that put good one week can win good one week and they might not play good for a while until they putt good again.
There are so many ways it comes down to putting. If you 3-putt the last hole to lose, that long drive doesn't matter. If I don't make that seven-footer get in the playoff, that long drive doesn't matter. So that's what I've been working on hard. But besides the mental is the putting, the name of the game.
CHRIS BERMAN: You have such a connection with youngsters, and it will be even more so now, winning, what without the kids, could be 6, could be 12, could be 15, what's the best thing about golf? What should they do?
BUBBA WATSON: The one lesson I would tell them, and the parents, too, that are listening, I tell them that golf is fun.
Golf has got me a lot of things. If I can't ever play another golf shot in my life, I went to many different countries, earned a good living, I've done some things that I can never dream of. My family could never dream of. Helped my family out here and there financially. There's things I could never dream of that I could never do, got to see in this world.
But what got me there is because my dad let me have fun with the game. Some kids, their parents or them themselves, they start reading, they start getting videos and they start getting swing thoughts, swing coaches at a young age, I'm talking a really young age like ten. It's overwhelming to kids. They have got to be a kid. The first thing you have to do is be a kid.
And for me, when I was in high school, I would only play a few events during the summer because I want to be a kid. My parents said don't get burned out, don't get overwhelmed at trying to be the best golfer. If you're going to do it as a pro, you need to have fun as a kid, because you don't want to lose your childhood and you want to remember how much fun you had with friends. You want to enjoy the game and that's what I do. That's the way I did it. That doesn't mean it's right for everybody, because some people, it obviously proves the other way.
But just have fun, because not everybody is going to go pro. So education is the next thing I preach. And it took me a seven-year layoff, but I went and graduated, so now I can tell them that I took the time and energy to graduate. I would tell them education is the most fun, but have fun, the key thing is just having fun with it and make sure I enjoy it.
CHRIS BERMAN: We have had a lot of champions and we've contested this thing it almost 60 years, there are very few as engaging as our defending champ Bubba Watson. Welcome home. You're from the Panhandle but welcome home.
NATHAN GRUDE: Thank you very much. I also wanted to -- we are fortunate to have Admiral McLaughlin come in. He was our honorary chair last year, and he actually -- Bubba after he met, after what happened last year, gave him a call in the fall when he was at the Deutsche Bank, "Hey, Admiral, Bubba Watson." I can't really mastered this story, I'm sorry, but just tell you as I heard it. And he went down to see him.
And the Admiral gave him a tour of the sub and next thing you know, he's showing pictures of Bubba and inside a torpedo tube. Admiral, thank you for opening up the military to Bubba. I don't think it was a great idea but good job. But thank you very much. (Laughter).
Just want to thank everybody for coming today. We were going to announce players who will be here. We are announcing Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler, David Toms, Ricky Barnes, Corey Pavin and Trevor Immelman, the latest commitments, and we will give more the next week or so. Thank you very much. We'll see you in 32 days.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports