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February 21, 2016
Pacific Palisades, California
ALEX URBAN: We'd like to welcome the 2016 Northern Trust Open champion Bubba Watson. Bubba, you're just two years removed from winning this tournament, obviously it's a course that suits your game. Talk about your thoughts down the stretch. It was a pretty packed leaderboard today.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it was. Starting the day, it was anybody's ballgame, if somebody went out there and shot a real low number. You know, coming down the stretch, I made the bogey on, gosh, what hole was that, 7, made a bogey on 7. I got to 8 and I was thinking about, you know, if I could have four birdies coming down the stretch, obviously no bogeys, I'd have a shot at it, because I saw where the people were, I knew how difficult it was coming down the stretch and how tough it is.
So I just held it together and I knew No. 10, No. 10 is always going to play a big role. I made a 10-footer, 12-footer maybe for par on 10. So that got me going, that got me in a positive. It was like a birdie, right. So that's what I thought about, and I just kept my head down. I know I made a bad swing on 13, I think it was 13. Made a bogey there.
But I just kept going. I looked at the leaderboard and I saw nobody was running away from it, so I knew that I still had a shot if I could make some good swing and some good putts down the stretch, and somehow it worked out.
Q. You have four rounds in the 60s here, you have that birdie, birdie, par finish, and still five strokes off that tournament record. What do you make of that, to play as well as you did, and have that record still out there?
BUBBA WATSON: Nobody's looking at records when it comes to tournament records. All we're looking at is trophies. The golf course was very difficult there in the Pro-Am. It's the fastest I've seen the fairways and fastest and hardest I've seen the greens, and then for us, we got lucky as players that we had that, I think give or take, a half inch of rain. Changes the whole golf course.
The first day we are backing 5-irons up, and then it's still not firm, nowhere near where it was on Wednesday, even today. So you know, it was one of those things we got lucky we could shoot what we did. It was going to be single digits for sure when I saw it on Wednesday.
Q. You talk so much about putting is everything here. What is the one putt you think is the most significant you made today?
BUBBA WATSON: Ten-incher on 18.
Q. Outside of the ten-incher on 18.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, you asked the question. You knew what I was going to say. (Laughter).
Make sure I say this the right way: Every tournament, putting is the key. But -- hold on a second, my trophy's coming. (Laughter).
Q. Do I need to start the question over?
BUBBA WATSON: I forgot what you said. I was blinded by the glare (smiling).
You know what, 10 is very -- the putt on 10, that hole is very difficult, is the greatest and nicest way to say it. To make that putt and somehow make the putt on the very next hole, that combination of those two gave me the right frame of mind. When I say the "frame of mind," it really pushed me toward -- I had plenty of energy. I knew I had a shot at it.
Didn't mean I'm going to pull it out like I did. It just means I knew I was in the moment and I was ready to go, firing on all cylinders. So those two, combination of 10 and 11 really got me where I wanted to go.
And then seeing him get up-and-down on 16, and then me making the putt right after him, because that putt was outside the hole, turning pretty good for a short putt.
Q. Yours or his? Both?
BUBBA WATSON: Mine. Mine broke way more than his. And so for me to make that to tie, it was very big, obviously. And then just hold on from there, really.
Q. You've talked recently when you won about wanting to hit that more consistent level. Didn't seem to be a great start to the year. How close are you getting to where you want to be on doing this --
BUBBA WATSON: I want to hear what your stats are. Where is my not a great start of the year? Maui, I finished 10th.
Q. Fifteen shots behind.
BUBBA WATSON: It's still 10th. I mean, I can't help it if a guy plays phenomenal. All I can do is what I can do. That's what I'm working on. My whole goal today was to shoot in the 60s and if they beat me, they beat me.
You know, Phoenix, it was a bad headline that said I didn't like the community, I didn't like the golf tournament, which was a lie, which I'm going to say. I'm man enough to take the bad press now. I still finished 14th. The Saturday where I got booed on every shot -- even though I've lived there for the last eight winters, I love Scottsdale, I love Phoenix. Done a lot of work in those areas. Bad press, and I still finished 14th.
So I didn't see it as that one bad day where I shot 2-over. First I'm I've ever shot over par in ten years at Scottsdale. So I didn't see that as a bad tournament. It was the first time going back to Personal. The emotional ride I had at Phoenix, that's what I put Pebble as, and bad putting.
I'm just saying, the mental stress that I had to just bite my tongue, sometimes when things are written or things are said, and there was a lot of things said in between those ropes. I had a lot of people call on my behalf to the TOUR that I was very appreciative of that stood up for me.
And so, that emotional ride, playing three tournaments in a row. I passed a kidney stone this Monday a few days ago. There's a lot of things that I've been doing. So I don't see it as bad golf. I just see it as putts didn't go my way.
That was a long answer for your little question -- you're the one that asked it. You said my year as terrible.
Q. I never said terrible. You said --
BUBBA WATSON: Exactly! See! Now you get the feeling. (Laughter). Me and you are in the same boat now, and if the headline says, "Bubba's terrible."
Q. You're moving to L.A. now; is that what you're saying?
BUBBA WATSON: No. No. There's a lot of cost involved with that.
Q. Is it a horses-for-course kind of thing? Do you just like it around here? What's the story, two times in the last few years.
BUBBA WATSON: I think it just -- I don't know. I get a good, excited feeling here. I love coming here, the history of this place. You know, the history that you've seen, the great champions, obviously the real great champions here are a big thing to me.
No, it's just seeing the shots over and over. I think that's what makes Augusta so special is that every year, it's that major tournament in the same spot so we can see past champion after past champion. It's not changing golf courses, so this place hasn't changed. It's stayed the same. They have added the tee box on 2 and so far we don't play it. They have added some things but we don't play those things.
So I love the history and I love the challenge of the golf course, and a couple times in the last few years, my head's in the right spot and it's worked out.
Q. Can you give us details on passing that kidney stone?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, you know what, I've passed two in the last five years. New Orleans a few years ago, roughly five years ago, I took a bathroom break on the 16th hole. I was playing bad enough, I started on 10, so it was the 16th hole, but the other side, the front side.
And the nicest way of saying it is, red liquid came out. And I called Angie over and I said, "We need to call a doctor, something's going on." There was never any pain. There was never anything. We went the very next day after that -- three holes later. We flew home. They said it's a kidney stone, it's coming through. So you just start drinking a lot of water and stuff.
And that's what I did. Again, best way to say it is it shot out. And no pain. Never any pain. But I don't know if you've ever had red liquid come out, it's scary. (Laughter).
So Sunday, I made the cut -- I missed the cut at Pebble. And that Sunday morning playing with the kids, I had to go take a bathroom break, and same thing. Red liquid came out. I said, "This ain't right."
So we called the doctor, we called the tournament here. They set me up with a place. I landed on Monday morning, went. Did a CT scan and 30 minutes after the CT scan, again, just downing water, thinking it's going to be the same thing.
Five years ago he said there was one more in my system and obviously it decided this week. My baby came out I guess. (Laughter).
Again, no pain. And I'm already a head case, so my thoughts of seeing red liquids coming out, I thought I was dying, basically, without pain.
Q. Between that, hanging out with Justin Bieber, shooting a scene for a TV show and going to a basketball game, how are you able to compartmentalize golf and focus on that?
BUBBA WATSON: That could have been what helped me. So focused on encouraging other people, telling people how much I appreciate them, going to the Boy Meets World case, now Girl Meets World cast, telling them how great they are and what this show means to the world. Maybe it just calmed me down and made me realize -- and that's what happens.
Sometimes I just realize really what's more important, instead of worrying about what's written about me and worrying about if I made the 10-footer or not.
At the end of the day, you know, hopefully my wife or my friends don't put on my tombstone my record at golf, because it's going to be pretty sad. Hopefully it says that I worked hard, I was a good friend, good husband, good dad on my tombstone, or the speech they give when I pass away.
Q. Over the last two or three years, have you gotten better as a player technically or better in how you think your way around golf courses and manage yourself?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, technically, maybe, but I'm not trying to do anything. I don't work on anything. I just play golf. I see a shot and try to hit it. I'm scared to death on most of them but I try to hit it anyway.
So what I've worked on since I've been on TOUR is my attitude, my mind-set. There's a lot of -- I have a lot of fears in my life, which as I'm reading the Bible, I'm not supposed to have, but I do. I'm human. And a lot of those fears come out on the golf course: Big crowds, just people, people touching me, people yelling at me. Just, I want to go and hide. So I'm getting better at that; I'm trying to.
I don't like change. I don't know what it is. When something -- my shirt doesn't feel right, things like that, I just don't know how to deal with certain situations in my life. Me and Teddy, the reason why I hired Teddy is because he's a great man, he's a Christian man and we've got the same battles in life. And so we've worked hard. I'm going to have mistakes. I'm going to have setbacks and I've got to move forward from that and that's what we've been working on.
These nine victories is all because of that. Nothing's fell in my lap. I've had to work hard at all of them, and it's my mind-set in the right spot, and over the last few years, I've had hiccups here and there, as I've seen in the headlines. But all in all, it's about being a better person and moving in the right direction for my wife, my friends, my family, and obviously my two kids.
Q. You mentioned this is your ninth win. You mentioned in the past when you reached No. 10, that might be it. Are you still feeling that way?
BUBBA WATSON: I never said it's going to be it. I said I would change my goal. If I became No. 1 in the world, I would think about moving on, because then everybody is going to write bad things because all I can do is go down from there. And it would be nice to go out on top. I have no idea what Peyton Manning is thinking, but it would be nice to walk away with that big trophy him and his team just won.
Q. What was that scene like now with Dakota and her running out to you on the green? What did that mean to you?
BUBBA WATSON: Nobody was watching my child when she ran out. That's what that meant. (Laughter)
It's going to be a tough day. Again, another fear is how do you explain to kids that they are adapted. How am I going to do that? And again, because I'm not very good with words, a couple weeks ago as we know. So how am I going to do that.
I think with the new age of computer, video, always get DVDs of my wins and different things, and being able to show them the love and the true tears, I guess you would say. I don't really tear up for the wins anymore. It's about the family.
You know, so it's being able to use this to my advantage hopefully to prove to them the true love and the reason that they are loved and the reason they were put up for adoption is for the love on the other side, as well. And hopefully that all works out with the new age of videos and different things.
Q. Dufner wins in the desert; Snedeker in San Diego; you here, guys in their 30s. Been a ton of talk about the young guys. What's the statement by the guys in their early 30s at this point?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, I think it's just one of those things. The Young Guns, the up-and-comers, top four in the world are right around -- I'm not sure how old Jason Day is but I think they are all under 30. They have all won so much. It goes back and forth.
You know, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk winning in their 40s, Kenny Perry, Davis Love, 40s and I think 50s now. So it just goes in cycles. And I'm hoping that cycle ends on The Ryder Cup and it goes back to the U.S.
So it's cycles. Golf goes in cycles like that. It's just one of those things.
Q. As well as they play, is it motivating?
BUBBA WATSON: Truthfully, watching Rickie Fowler, obviously watching great champions; Jordan Spieth, what a mental game he has. I'm looking at the mental side of it, right. His drive and dedication, his mental game, his mental focus -- he doesn't have kids yet.
But watching Rickie, going out there and Matsuyama as well, watching them perform, watching them make putts in Phoenix, being out there and walking inside the ropes and pulling for good golf, I congratulated both of them even though only one takes home the trophy. That's what inspires me, watching Rickie and.
And then when Rickie text me -- I sent him this beautiful text, sentimental text about how great he is as a person and that's what I admire most, after he won over in the other desert, the real desert, I guess. And so he sent me back when he landed, he said, "Hey, passed you in the World Rankings."
I was like, and so I think I just heard that I passed him again, so maybe I need to send him a text real fast next week before he passes me again. No, watching him, being a great friend of mine, like my brother, his whole family, that's what's inspiring. Going if that little kid can do it, I can do it. No, just watching everybody, not just a certain age. Watching Phil, watching Phil coming down the stretch, you know, all these things. They just inspire us as golfers. I'm like, if they can do it, gosh, I should be able to do it.
Q. Five bogeys in four rounds this week. How were you able to minimize the damage on a very difficult golf course with poa annua greens that sometimes don't roll the way you like?
BUBBA WATSON: I mean, that's the key is figuring out a way to protect it, and that's my mind-set around here is pars, and hopefully throw in a lucky birdie here and there. And that's what I was looking for.
And like today, the birdie on 11, I was trying to hit it over there in two, so I have a better angle. And then when I got there, there was a big clump of grass behind my ball so I played safer. Went up the hill. I didn't want to go up the hill on 11, but then I made the putt. So one of those lucky things, one of those lucky birdies that fell in for me.
10 today, me and Teddy were talking about it, about going at the pin on that chip shot. My 3-wood hasn't went that far all week. It's been in the front bunker, and today it went past. So I was going to chip to the side and have a 50-footer and then my comment to him was, "It's going to be just as hard as hitting a bunker shot, so why not hit the bunker shot." So we went at it trying to see if we could get lucky with that chip shot. Went in the bunker and then I made the 12-footer again.
So it's trying to only make bogeys; I made a lot of key putts this week inside of five feet that could have easily went, like you said, this kind of grass, it can get spongy and the ball can bounce where it wants to go. And that's what I tried to do, when I got in trouble, I tried to play the smartest way that I know how and that's how it worked out this week.
Q. What club did you hit on 17?
BUBBA WATSON: PING. (Laughter).
Q. What number did it have on the bottom of it do you think maybe?
BUBBA WATSON: Teddy's not here. I'm not sure. It was a 2-iron.
Q. What are you trying to do with that shot?
BUBBA WATSON: Are you talking about the second shot?
Q. Yeah. First shot looked like both feet came off the ground by the way.
BUBBA WATSON: Good. I don't know if you know, but the carry of that bunker is 321 by the way with the adjustment in one. So for me, I wanted to hit it as hard as I could. That was the key. And so it worked out. It went straight. PING makes a good driver, the G Driver, I don't know if you've seen it. It's pink. (Laughter) I love it when I can just make up stuff.
Q. We can do it when you don't. (Laughter)
BUBBA WATSON: Exactly. Haven't said anything bad about anybody yet, so it's good. Except Rickie, I'm past him on the World Ranking.
What I was trying to do there, I think we roughly, 258-adjusted to the hole. I wanted to hit 4-iron because of the -- I was finally over to that side of the fairway, so I didn't have to cut it if I wanted to.
But then we thought about it, if the 4 comes up short, where Chez Reavie was just short, that Chip's not easy. We need to have a birdie. We thought if we went past, we would have a better chance and the chip would be a little bit easier. So my goal was to aim at the bunker and cut it with a 2-iron, just hit it super high and cut it downwind. That's what I did.
So when I knew it came off, I knew it was going to hit the green. I just didn't know the distance obviously with the cut. It was perfect. And then I was terrified over the putt. But that was the goal was aim at the bunker and cut it, and if it somehow goes to the grandstands, it was a free drop. So that was the whole mind-set.
Q. You said that it took a little while to get over Phoenix. If it took that carry-over week to Pebble, when did you feel like you really got over it?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm not over it. It's heartbreaking that a city or community or local press would put a headline to spur on a bad image. So it's hurtful.
But that's where, like some of these other questions that I've been asked, you know, the reading that I'm doing, the team I have around me, with the ultimate goals that we have in life, that's where -- I shouldn't worry about what's said about me.
My people around me, my wife, that's the only one I really worry about because she can really yell if I get out of hands. My kids, making sure they are taken care of; my mom and my sister, my nephews, my close friends that I trust with all my heart. That's what really is most important.
And like I said I don't cry at winning the trophy anymore, because the trophy is going to rot; it's going to fade away. It's going to ding up. That's really not what's most important in my life.
That's the best way to answer it. I mean, deep down, as the human side of me, yes, I'm pretty mad about it, but I've got to get over it. I've got to man up and be a better man, and with those comments, I've got to figure out how to answer things better, you know, all the stuff going on in my head we've been working on in the last 11 years of PGA TOUR life, I've got to get better at it. I think I've made the right steps, but it's still going to pop out. The bad stuff is going to pop out every once in a while.
Q. I don't need anymore details on the kidney stones --
BUBBA WATSON: I've got it if you want to see it. It's in my pocket (laughter). I have it saved so I can analyze it, see what's causing it. That's what the doctor said.
Q. Did you ever think about withdrawing this week?
BUBBA WATSON: No, there was never any pain. The CT scan, the doctor called me the next morning, and said, "There's nothing."
I said, Well, because I've got it. It's in a bag. I've peed it out already."
He was like, "Oh, well then you're clean, you don't have to worry about it anymore."
I said, "Well, thank you."
There was never any pain, so the withdrawing -- no, there was never -- once they gave me the okay.
Q. What kind of headline do you want on that kidney stone story?
BUBBA WATSON: (Laughter) I would like: "Bubba is a tough guy. Mentally, he's tough."
Q. If you get a chance to write the headline for this win, what is it?
BUBBA WATSON: That was Bubba Watson didn't like this tournament. I never said that. I said Bubba Watson didn't like the course -- that was in Phoenix, not here, Phoenix. (Laughter) we're still battling through this one.
Q. "Bubba Watson Loves This Tournament"?
BUBBA WATSON: "Bubba Loves This Community and People and Course and Fans and Everything Else."
Q. Just wanted to follow up with you on this prospect of goal setting. With a win today, you are projected as No. 4 in the world. If you did get to No. 1, would you consider retirement still, or what would the new goal be?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, I would definitely consider it. Probably can answer it about 99 percent sure what I would do.
It's funny, I've talked to some guys that are in their 40s, not mention any names, but are great champions. Talked to them and I said, what was your number. Because you know, retirement, I have to set a number somewhere. I have to set what I want, and so I've always picked 40. Not that I want to retire. I'm always going to be at Augusta. They are going to have to kick me off Augusta. I'm going to be 80 struggling down the fairway.
So when I say "retirement," it's just, I'm still going to travel around the world and play in golf tournaments. It won't be PGA TOUR; it won't be the 15 on the PGA TOUR, if that ever happened. I'm not good enough yet to make that happen. So got a lot of working to do on the mental game.
The goal setting is always there. The goal is to get better. First goal is to make the TOUR. I made the TOUR. So then it was to win. Then I set a goal at ten wins. I thought this day and age, with the popularity of the game that Tiger has created; others have created but with Internet and social media, Tiger has created and now the young guns are created and obviously us in our 30s are creating it, I want to get to ten wins, because I think that's a big stepping stone for this day and age on the PGA TOUR.
And when I get to ten wins, then we'll bump it up a few. We won't go another ten, but we would bump it up a few, but I can't bump it up until I get there. So the goals will change, but when I get to my first goal. My goal every year so make the team event, to win, make the team event and hopefully get to ten wins and I'll change that for a lifetime goal I guess.
ALEX URBAN: Congratulations on your second Northern Trust Open here in 2016.
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