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March 1, 2016
MARK WILLIAMS: Like to welcome Bubba Watson to the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship interview room.
Coming in after a week after a great win at the Northern Trust Open. Is that the perfect scenario, winning and then taking a week off?
BUBBA WATSON: Like to win any week -- I mean, yeah, obviously it makes it a lot better, my son's birthday was last week, so he turned 4. The win and the party with him, worked out my schedule perfect to do it that way. If I had won Phoenix or Pebble, that would have been good, too.
MARK WILLIAMS: You have a pretty good record around Trump National Doral. What do you think it's going to take you to get over the line? You've had a couple of seconds and a third. What's the next step for you to get over the line and win?
BUBBA WATSON: The key around the golf course for me is making the putts, and over the last few years, I made some putts.
The golf course is very difficult, and this year, I only played nine holes today, but it's playing softer, so it's playing a lot longer right now. So it's about short game. Around a long golf course, it's all about short game and somehow trusting your 5-iron and your 6-iron, for me, that it goes somewhat straight so that I can somewhat make pars around this golf course.
Q. Many times you've discussed in your career how you've never taken a lesson, how you never want to take a lesson. Just curious, was there ever any point when things were going bad in your career where you thought about it, like you were so desperate, you thought you might go consult somebody, and even now, do you ever ask Ted, or is there anybody that ever influences anything you're doing if things get off-track?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, answer the most part, yes, my wife influence a lot of the things I do. She's a good wife. My manager yells at me a lot when I say the wrong things to the media. So those people do influence me a lot.
No, I've never felt like I've had a bad stretch. I've had bad rounds of golf, but I can look at it deep down in your heart and see what really caused it. At this level, we are all good enough ball-strikers, we can all manufacture scores.
So it comes down to what's in your heart and what's in your head, what are you focused on, what's going on in your life. Were you scared over the water; thinking about the water; were you scared about a bunker; were you scared about -- were you trying to make the putt or were you stroking the putt.
So it's simple little fixes in my head. So I've never had that issue and I've played on the PGA TOUR and I've never lost my card. So I've never had to rethink my abilities and rework my abilities.
And talking to Ted, we do it after every tournament, but really after every year, we sit back, I call him, and ask him what would he fix, what would he change, what would he work harder at, and the last three years we've worked harder on the putting and I think it's showed.
As I mature and get older and become a better husband and father, you know, I'm slowing down on the golf course and realizing that the bogey is not as bad as it used to be when I was just a single man fighting for my card.
Q. So your fixes are not really technical?
BUBBA WATSON: No, they are never really technical. The physical game is the easy part, for me. And the mental part; and when I say the mental part, it's not that I'm focused on, oh, don't 3-putt. I'm focused on, ooohhh, there's a good movie out, let's go watch that, while I'm over the putt from eight feet to make a birdie, you know. Just things kind of pop in my head and I kind just of just run with them. So I'm trying to get things to quit popping in my head.
Trying to focus on what I'm doing at that moment, and that's where Teddy -- we're putting right now. He's making sure that I'm doing the right things when I'm on the golf course.
Q. Do you think other guys who are so -- there are some players obviously that are very focused on the technical aspects, and you see them with their coaches. Did they learn something from you in that regard?
BUBBA WATSON: No, because we are all different. The best example for me would be Hunter Mahan. I love the way Hunter Mahan plays golf. His ball-striking ability is unbelievable, and when you watch him hit driver, I mean, he gets in -- his swing pattern gets where he just hits driver and seems like he hits every fairway. But he still hits it long. It's not like he hits it short in every fairway; he hits it long, and his irons barely move.
So he just attacks the golf course different than me and he likes to make sure his swing path is in the right spot, so he works with his coach. But he does it quite efficiently. He's pretty good at the game. So it's just two different ways about it. There's multiple ways about it. We all swing differently and we all approach the game differently and life differently.
Q. When you look at a golf course that you like, is it just a matter of standing on a tee and liking the way a particular hole sets up, or in the case of this golf course, after looking at last year's leaderboard, it's clearly a bomber's golf course. Does that factor into something you like, as well?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, last year, again, I've only played nine holes, and I haven't looked at the weather to see why it was softer this week, or so far this week that I saw. Last year, it was hard. It was firm. So the ball, it was hard to stop the ball on the greens.
And for a big hitter, makes it easier. We are hitting 9-iron and the other guys are hitting a 7-iron, which comes off lower, so it's harder to stop the ball on these greens with a longer iron, when a big hitter has a shorter iron. And so it's one of those golf courses that worked out that way.
This year with it being softer, I think more people are going to have the chance. They moved some bunkers around, more chances to hit fairways. So I think it just favored us last year, big hitters, with the course condition. Course conditions are what make or break a golf course for who is going to win or who is not going to win.
Q. For a guy who isn't super technical in your approach and that sort of thing in practice, go back to what you said about putting, how do you go about sort of fixing it, if you will, or making the improvements? What's your approach there?
BUBBA WATSON: The first thing is the approach in the mind. How are you approaching this; are you trying to make it or are you trying to make the right stroke.
Tiger Woods, it clicked in my head when I heard Tiger Woods say in an interview, gosh, which major was it -- he won Torrey Pines. The putt to get into the playoff, right, we all know it and we know in slow motion how it bounced the whole way.
Torrey Pines, and not that the course is in bad shape. It's just that kind of grass, right, late in the day. And he said all he wanted to do was make the right stroke. It was just, all he could do is what he could do, and if the ball goes in, it goes in. If you watch in slow motion, it bounced, it bounced, it bounced and falls into the high lip, the right lip.
And when he said that, it clicked. I was like, wait, maybe worry about my stroke and make sure my stroke is halfway decent, and then the ball is going to go in or it isn't. And you can see in that slow motion how much it bounced, and then he went on to win the tournament. When I heard that interview is what clicked, so the mind-set is first part.
Second part is, really focusing and trying to dial in the stroke. Another example would be like Vijay Singh. We have seen Vijay Singh, hit ball after ball on that range, because he's trying to dial in that swing. Same thing with me before you watch a round of golf, I'm trying to do -- I don't have a set number. It's just putt until I feel comfortable with my stroke from five feet, trying to get the straight putt, so I see what straight is and feel what my alignment is for that day. And trying to get used to it, trying to get the reps in, so I know what a straight putt or a 5-footer -- because we got to make all of our 5-footers if we're going to play good golf on the TOUR.
Q. You mentioned long hitters, obviously success here. Just thoughts on the course changes Gil has made. He's made a couple of tweaks since the original resign he did a few years ago?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I thought the change, again, with your question, last year, I hit a ball that drew just a little bit with a 6-iron off No. 1. The green was so firm, it hit the middle of the green, rolled into the water.
I think J.B. Holmes did the same thing, but he did it with a 7-iron. He hit a great drive down there, hit a 7-iron going for it in two, rolled into the water. This year, the ball's stopping, or for the nine holes I played.
The changes like the new tees, the new bunker, that tee, we played the tee on -- is it 4, the par 3? It was 231 over water with a crosswind today. No.
3 for me, visually, it's very tough, the water. The new green, if you miss that fairway, that green is tough to hit but they have got some rough this year, right in the middle of the green, so like if it rolls off, it should stop before it gets in the water.
The bunkers, the new tee on 5, I think it is, they have lengthened it a little bit. With those bunkers it's hard to fly unless it's downwind. I think it was 314 today to try to fly it so I hit 2-iron, 7-iron in there today.
Then they tweaked the bunkers on 7 to make it more visually room to hit.
So they are doing things, they made the golf course very difficult and now they are tweaking here and there just to get it a little bit better. But I think the golf course, what I saw today, all the tweaks were good, very positive. I was talking to some guys before I came in here about how the changes are great.
And again, for me, it's a very tough golf course. For everybody, it's a tough golf course, but it's just about tricking your mind and saying you can compete and hit these fairways. Because if you don't hit these fairways, the ball can jump out of this grass, whatever kind of grass it is. I catch a lot of flyers.
Thanks for that article, by the way. I want to give you that, first.
Q. It was your press conference. I was just the scribbler.
BUBBA WATSON: Right, but you scribbled the right direction. Jens made me read it. I don't look at media anymore, but he made me read it, so thank you.
Q. I know you said you never read it.
So the owner of this property is in the middle of a presidential campaign --
BUBBA WATSON: Who's that?
Q. You know he usually has a larger-than-life presence. This is not a political question --
BUBBA WATSON: Good, because I was going to deflect it hard.
Q. It's a perception question.
BUBBA WATSON: Jens told me to deflect them hard, by the way. (Laughter). He's been stressed all morning.
Q. What is it like as a golfer to know that you might have this political campaign converge on a world that the two generally do not meet, and are you kind of curious, like when or if is this guy going to show up this week?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, we'll see the helicopter show up. I noticed it wasn't there on 9 tee today.
You know, I think it's great if there's a big ruckus when he shows up, because the media gets away from me and you don't hear the bad comments I say or twist them.
It is going to be different because we've never had this. We've had presidents, ex-presidents show up and cheer us on at different events, so that's pretty neat and unique.
But for it to be in the middle of a race, yeah, it will be different, but I'm pretty sure he'll show up at some point. Obviously today is pretty big on the 'ole political race, so he'll show up probably at some point. It's his baby and he's part of this event. So it would be great if he showed up just to encourage us a little bit.
Talking about Trump, right? That's who we're talking about.
Q. You were chatting about changes and tweaking to this course, but you probably heard in a few weeks' time, going back to Augusta, there's a longer 13th hole, talking about lengthening the 13th tee at Augusta. Wonder your thoughts about that?
BUBBA WATSON: I haven't heard about it. That's the first I heard about it. Again, I don't look at this stuff. I don't read the stuff anymore. Internet is not real sometimes.
If they change it, they have always changed stuff in the right direction and if they didn't like it after a year, they have always changed it back or somewhat changed it back.
So Monday, Tuesday, I'm supposed to go up there after this event and practice. So I'll see if they have done anything. That's when I'll look at it, take my wife, a friend of mine, we play some golf up there.
But yeah, I'm not worried about if they change it here or there.
Q. How do you normally play the 13th?
BUBBA WATSON: When I win, I always play it pretty good. No, it's a cut hole. I like to cut the ball, but for a right-hander, the right-hander could throw the 3-wood out there and draw it around the corner. For me I have to hit driver, because it's cut; the cut goes shorter. And if they add length -- you said the 13th they added length or thinking about it?
Q. Taking the tee back.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, so then, just still cut driver. It's not going to change anything. The thing, might be more lay-ups.
Q. If I can squeeze in another question. Earlier in your conference, you mention the fact when you're over a putt, you think about new movies. Any particular movies you've been thinking about?
BUBBA WATSON: That was just one example. Sometimes you think about lines from Caddyshack, you think about lines from Billy Madison. I always think about the comedies when I think about things, and so yeah, it's just different thoughts. Sometimes it's about food. Sometimes it's about just new things coming out, new vehicle coming out, different things like that always grab my attention instead of focusing.
When you're out here for five hours in the heat trying to grind, you lose focus sometimes. I'm trying to get better at it though.
Q. Sticking on Augusta angle for a moment, Phil has talked about whenever he drives down Magnolia, he automatically has a feeling he can win again because he's done it before. I'm assuming you have a similar feel. Can you talk about that feeling that you have, and just the thought of three jackets, the possibility of that. You're already in a very exclusive club, and I think I remember you being quoted at one point, you just wanted to win ten TOUR events, if I'm not mistaken. The thought of having three jackets, if that were to come to pass, how mind-boggling that might be for you?
BUBBA WATSON: Let's answer the first question. If I do not win another event, the Hero Challenge is considered my tenth event, okay. Just keeping that in the back burner.
When you go down Magnolia Lane, as a golfer, knowing that you're about to play the course, it doesn't matter if you're going to play it Monday, Tuesday next week when I'm playing it with my wife and her friend. It doesn't matter if you're in a tournament; it doesn't matter when you're get to go play it. When you go down Magnolia Lane, you become a kid again. You become energized.
I remember the first time I went down manage line, I was at the University of Georgia and we get to play there once a year. The older guys on the team that have played there before say, hey, you're going to get nervous, you're going to get jittery.
As soon as we hit Magnolia Lane, I was like, it's a golf course, it's no big deal. I started taking more pictures than anybody else. I was excited. And it's the same thing when we go back now. It's an amazing feeling, and watching Fred Couples, it seems like every year, he's right there; the story of Jack Nicklaus at 46.
We all get the energy and the buzz that we can do it. We get so much fire by going down Magnolia Lane, knowing that you're about to play the course that you feel like you're unstoppable and you can play and you can win there.
Third jacket, I've only got one, so if you win the second one, they just give you the same jacket. So, yeah, it would be amazing, but again, I'm not putting my eggs that I'm going to do it or I can do it again. I'm going to just give it my best effort and hopefully I keep my streak going of never missing a cut there.
Like I said before, I'm going to be there until I'm 80. They are going to have to kick me off the course. They are going to have to send me that letter that says, "Bubba, don't you come back." (Laughter)
Q. Nearly half the field this week is projected to be in the Olympics, including yourself right now. How much have you allowed yourself to think about Rio and just how big of a goal that is in the scheme of things for you?
BUBBA WATSON: I just thought about it about ten minutes ago because we had to try on our clothes to see if they fit or see what sizes we like, asking about hotels, because we don't know anything. I don't know anything about that area and how everything is set up. Me and my manager were asking all those questions, seeing that I have a good shot at making it, you know.
I don't think about it. I mean, I've got this week. I've got Bay Hill. I've got match play. I've got majors coming up. I'm focused on Trump National right now and trying to beat it. Yeah, when it gets closer to time. I'll be excited when they say, "Bubba, you've made the team," then it's a different excitement.
But right now, if I don't perform, there's a chance I can fall out. If the other guys right behind me perform and I don't, they could pass me; I fall out. I would be upset for falling out. So I'm focused on the tournament at hand. And again, I need a lot of focus on that tournament at hand, so I'm not really focused on a couple months from now. I know that's not a good answer but that's the truth.
Q. On the tournament at hand, this week you talked about the tweaking of the golf course and the softness of the golf course that you have seen, but still, Trump National stretches out on the scorecard to 7,500 yards. When you hit the tee on Thursday, because of your length, do you feel like you have a decisive advantage over the majority of the field?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, the longer the golf course, yes, but that doesn't mean I'll play well, because I can still have bad swings, bad thoughts, yippy putting stroke, whatever you want to call it.
But to be honest with you, I feel like any golf tournament that I show up at, I have the ability to play, not just one shot. I don't just have length. I don't know if we've noticed that the last couple years, but there's other things to my game, not just my good looks and my length.
No, every golf tournament I show up, I feel like I can perform. Now will I, that's the question. My consistency over the last few years has showed I can and I can be around the leaderboard on Sunday. That's the ultimate goal and hopefully I take one or two putts on Sunday and take the victory.
Q. Your fun-loving approach on life, how does that help you with your game, every time you go out on the course?
BUBBA WATSON: I think that my approach on life is the most important to me, like this beautiful article said last week, said that I'm trying to become a better person off the course, trying to become the best husband for my wife, best father I can be for my kids.
And what's that's going to do, it's going to make me change on the course. I'm going to have moments, and I'm going to have bad days, even at home I'm going to have bad days. We all get sick or tired or something, or something's bothering us.
When you look at that, it means my attitude has got to change because Little Man's going to find out about YouTube one day and he's can see all the bad things Dad does.
But that's going to give me examples how to show him to change himself; but what that's going to do is make me more calm on the golf course, slow down on the golf course. And what that's going to do, hopefully is create a more positive energy for me so that I do not get loose out there.
In L.A., there was a couple times where I could have backed away and just kind of withered away like I would do when I was younger on TOUR, I guess you would say, a few years back. I kept my head in it, slowed down, took deep breaths, slowed down my walking, did everything I could to focus on the next shot.
And so by changing who I am or trying to be better, who I am off the golf course, is going to add to the golf course of better play, because I think my mental side will get better, if that makes sense, somewhat like that.
Q. When we hear a lot of talk these days about the big three, does it surprise you or bother you that you are not mentioned as one of the big three --
BUBBA WATSON: There's a big four now, right.
Q. Because you've won two Masters.
BUBBA WATSON: It's big four now because of Rickie.
No, it doesn't bother me at all. Like I said, I play a lot better when the media is not asking me questions. So no, it doesn't bother me.
At the end of the day, it's not about what people say about me. It's what I am -- what's in my head. I'm trying to get getter at the game of golf, trying to get better at the game of life. I'm not worried about the negative or positive press. I'm worried about if my kids are taken care of and that they are learning in the right, positive life to be better than I am as a person.
So I'm not worried about big three, big four, big five.
Q. On your game, obviously you've won a couple of Masters, but what about The Open and the U.S. Open. Are you looking at your game and changing maybe the way you control your ball flight to maybe do better in those tournaments?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I'm never changing my game for a certain tournament. I play 20 tournaments a year, so that means 20 different swings and thoughts I've got to figure out.
No, I've got to get betterment I love the game of golf over in Scotland, links golf, true links golf. I love it. But one week, going over for one week is hard for me to get where I need to be to perform at a high level.
I've had moments over there that I've played well in stretches but not good enough. The last two years, I think I missed the U.S. Open and the British Open, the cuts. But overall, I'm happy with all my years, so I'm not going to change my golf or my style just for those two events.
Hopefully my style, again, I would just figure it out in a short period of time to play those events well. To get me in the Masters, the first time I finished fifth in the U.S. Open, so I did all right then.
The British Open, really it bugs me a little bit just because the imagination, I haven't been able to perform all four days. I've had moments, but not all four days. I like to start with making the cut first and then go from there.
MARK WILLIAMS: Thank you, Bubba, as always. We appreciate your time and good luck this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports