May 20, 2022
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Southern Hills Country Club
JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the 2022 PGA Championship here at Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are joined by Bubba Watson, who just carded a record-tying 63. That's 7-under par for today, which puts him at 5-under par for the championship.
Bubba, what about this golf course made it a little bit susceptible? Was it the lack of wind, the slower greens that allowed you to put up an incredible number today.
BUBBA WATSON: Slower greens obviously helps. It slows down the chips and everything, all the shots that you're hitting in there. Makes the ball grab more because you have a little bit more grass on there to grab and spin shots.
Without the heat, the cloud cover made it a little bit softer. But when that wind died down, you just felt like you had a chance to score. I'm not saying it was easy by any means. I just hit some putts, hit some shots that helped me -- you know, my whole goal was to make the cut, so I was just trying to stay ahead of the cut line, and every time I made a birdie I just kept saying, that's one more to the good.
I think I laughed, I made fun of my caddie on No. 12 tee. I think I said I had to shoot 7-over the rest of the way to make the cut. I was always trying to figure out what that was because around here the golf course can get you real fast.
Q. When did the wind die down for you, what hole approximately?
BUBBA WATSON: It started dying down, gosh, it felt like -- I don't remember what holes they are. 8 is the par-3? So I would say right around 7 tee. It kind of switched. It started dying down the middle of 5, 6 tee -- is that the par-3, as well? Right around that area, right around there.
I had a few holes, 12 holes, give or take, with a lot less wind, if any wind at all.
Q. I know a lot of times people want to look back and reflect on careers after they're retired, after they're done, but you did something that only Raymond Floyd and Tiger Woods have done on this course and shoot 63. Will you think about that or will you just live in the moment?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I'm definitely not going to think about it because tomorrow whoever I'm playing with is going to be trying to attack the course.
So if it would have on a Sunday or something like that and move way up to wherever I am now on the leaderboard, then it's different. But on a Friday, I could shoot 80-80 and I could care less what I did on Friday.
It's very nice. Don't get me wrong. It's an honor to be able to shoot 63 on any golf course. I mean, I'll take it. But I've got to look forward to tomorrow and see where I'm at and hit hopefully just as quality shots as I did today.
Q. Bubba, hitting driver everywhere around here, how much does that free you up and just make it fun to get out there and start making birdies?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, it's funny. Out of nowhere, I don't know why or how it worked out, but I decided to change driver shafts. I've been using the same shaft since 2002. It's roughly 90 grams, so I switched to a 60-gram shaft, and as I get older, club head speed -- even though it doesn't sound like very much, it's a lot when it comes to the golf swing.
Now I've picked up the distance, ball is going like I'm used to. This driver I've got right now, I really trust it. I've only been using it for a couple weeks, but I really trust it. I can hit some shots that I want to hit.
These fairways are generous right now, so I just feel like I have control of the golf ball enough where I can play to spots even if it's in the rough. I can play shots out of the rough around here.
So yeah, obviously if I'm hitting irons everywhere, it would be boring golf, and then I wouldn't really get into the round. So being able to hit driver gets me into the round, gets me full swings and things.
Q. You've had so many great amazing ball-striking rounds; is this one of the best or the best?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it's up there for sure. It was funny, I told my caddie on 13, I told him I was going to hit it in the rough because I wanted to get that out of my head. I hadn't missed a fairway yet, and I didn't want to go to 17 or 18 having a chance to hit every fairway.
I was like, we need to go ahead and hit it in the rough. We can't get to this par-5 in two anyway, so I just tried to hit it in the rough over there to the right and then chip it down the fairway. Chipped it down and still made birdie, so it worked out good.
Q. You sure you couldn't reach it in two?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, because the slight wind that there was was into us, so to hit those 380 drives or 400-yard drives that guys were hitting earlier today or yesterday, you couldn't really do it. Well, I couldn't.
Q. You do realize that's the only hole that you missed the fairway today on.
BUBBA WATSON: No, I did not until now.
Q. I'm just trying to help you.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you. It means nothing tomorrow morning when I wake up.
Q. So there's a couple things about that. One, were you feeling like you weren't the Bubba of old when you were hitting your other driver and you weren't getting the distances that you used to get?
BUBBA WATSON: No, that's not what I said at all. No.
I think that by doing this, it's helped me stretch my shoulders out. I've had a lot of issues over the last couple years, had a lot of PRP done on my wrist, PRP done on my knees. I've had a lot of issues.
So swinging a lighter shaft, lighter driver, I'd say I picked up five miles an hour club head speed maybe, ball speed, all that stuff. That's what everybody tells me. I don't know what that means. But all the guys watching me hit the driver.
So yeah, it's just helped me out, and I think it's helped me stretch out a little bit more, get looser with my shoulders, get my shoulders stretched out a little bit more so I can hit shots again.
I've been able to hit shots, and the irons have been rolling nicely. I thought I played really well last week; just to get the ball in the hole. Just like I told my wife last night, I played great yesterday and shot 2-over and I didn't get the ball in the hole. Today I just -- I got the ball in the hole today.
Q. The other part of that, the fact that you -- for two days it sounds like you've figured out how to attack this golf course. Even though you shot 63 today, do you feel like that's the benefit going into the weekend?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't think I learned how to attack the golf course. If you really want to go through my round, I was nervous on every single shot. I was nervous on every single putt. I had no clue.
The greens are bumpy. Let's just call it like it is. They're bumpy and they were a little bit hairier today. It was tough. My putts bounced my way and they went in today. Hopefully tomorrow they bounce my way and they go in.
Basically what I'm saying is I don't know how to attack the golf course. Today was a great day.
Q. Would you call it somewhat lucky today?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, every round that I play is lucky. Never had a lesson, you know.
Q. I know you say you're lucky, but shooting 63 around this place, there's only two guys that have ever done this. This course is obviously going to go through a lot of changes overnight and into tomorrow's round. What have you learned over the last couple of days that you're going to have to take into tomorrow?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, that I'm playing well. Forget the golf course. It's about trusting yourself. If you don't trust yourself out there, it doesn't matter if you have the perfect yardage, the perfect club. It doesn't matter.
If you don't feel like you can hit a shot or you're second-guessing that shot, then it doesn't matter what golf course it is. It doesn't matter if it's at home with your buddies. Doesn't matter if it's here. Doesn't matter if it's the John Deere in a few weeks. You're just trying to trust yourself.
If you have a solid mindset you'll be able to play. Any of these guys out here are good enough to play. That's why they're here in the field. So you've just got to trust it. It's not about if it's the right club, the right wind, all those things.
There has to be trust in your golf game, and if you don't trust, tomorrow I could shoot 80 because I didn't really trust it. I didn't really trust what I was doing. I started doubting, started looking at the leaderboard. Who knows tomorrow.
So yeah, today was just -- I trusted it. I was focused. I was focused on what I had to do, and it worked out.
Q. 20 years is a long time to go without changing equipment in today's game. In retrospect do you wish you'd gone to a lighter shaft earlier?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I tried it earlier. I've tried it over the years. What I call my dink cut; I couldn't keep it in the air. It wouldn't have enough spin on it so it would just fall out of the sky. I've tinkered over the years when I finally have some time off during the winter, but I just never could -- it just didn't --
Q. It creates more spin?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah. It works. You have to talk to the other people about if it creates enough spin. It works. I looked at the shot, I liked it, so I was like, this one's good; we'll go with it.
They made me some pink ones, but this one feels so good, I don't really want to put the pink one in yet.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports