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January 30, 2011

Bubba Watson


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome obviously a very happy and relaxed champion of the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open, Bubba Watson. Fantastic playing today, 5-under 67. Great up and down, great putt on the 72nd hole, second PGA TOUR win, and with the win you pick up 500 FedEx Cup points and move to second on the season long list. And that pretty much sums it up.
BUBBA WATSON: Just an average day (laughing).
DOUG MILNE: A few opening comments and then we'll take some questions.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, first of all, I think the putt on 17 was the most important one on the 71st hole, I guess. But it was a great day. I knew that I had a chance to win a golf tournament. Just kept my head down and focused on my goals and what I wanted to do. Birdied all the par-5s today like you need to do. Somehow it came out to a 5-under, and I won by one. So it was a nice stroll in the park today.
DOUG MILNE: What does getting that second win -- I know there is the whole validation factor. You've got the second win, and not only second win, but in the field that you were competing against this week.
BUBBA WATSON: It means I've got some more hardware in my house, and then I got a surfboard too. I'm going to have my whole house covered.
What it means to me is that I played good. I worked this winter to work on my mind to be more focused. To be worried about what I'm doing and not what everybody else is doing.
The guy I was playing with was playing great, Vegas, was playing great. He won last week. Phil was playing great behind us. You know, it was just focus on what I had to do.
I knew I had to shoot somewhere in the 60 , hopefully not too low in the 60s, so I could do it. It worked out today. I made the putt on 17, and the last hole.
So it just shows that I can do it. I did it twice now. I'm only like 50 behind Phil and 80 behind Tiger, so they better watch out (laughing).

Q. Can you kind of walk us through the sequence watching Phil on 18 and where you were when you saw that the flag was being tended, what did you think?
BUBBA WATSON: The flag was being tended? I didn't -- we looked back. When I had the putt, I hit the bunker shot and I looked back and didn't see anybody in the fairway. So I knew if I could make the putt, he has to eagle. I thought he was going for it. When I looked back down the fairway and I made the putt, I didn't want to get too excited because I thought it was him going for it. I didn't know he had already laid up.
So then I knew he had to hole it from wherever he laid up to, so went and signed my scorecard and I just sat in there until they said he missed it. So I don't know how close he hit it. I don't know what he made on the hole. I just know that I won, because that's all I was worried about. I didn't care.
If he makes it, I'm getting ready for a playoff off. So I'm trying not to get too emotional. I realize it's Phil Mickelson. He can make any shot he wants to. He's a great wedge player. I knew he had a shot at making it, so I didn't want to get too excited.
Over the radio they said he missed it, so I teared up a little bit.

Q. You talked a lot about your focus and I'm just wondering what helped you the most to maintain it and execute so well down the stretch?
BUBBA WATSON: Being there before, hitting many balls on the range. Playing a lot of golf in my life. Like my caddy said on 18, even though I pushed it, he said it's just me and you out here. He goes, it's a 7-iron, you've got 187. You've got 198 to the top of the hill, so it's a perfect 7-iron. The wind is just coming across.
Me and you, there's no way you're hitting a bad shot here, because you're going to beat me all day long. You're going to show off in front of me. It's just me and you. It's just me and you. That's what he kept saying. Don't worry about the people yelling, the people moving, all that. Don't worry about what could happen if I hit it close, don't worry about winning, don't worry about losing, you just hit the shot.
That's what he kept saying all day. Let's just worry about me. I three-putted a hole for bogey. He said you're going to do that. The greens are going to bounce, something's not going to go your way, so don't worry about it. Let's just keep fighting.
Then I hit a good shot on the next hole. Then I birdied number 9. So he said just keep doing what you're doing. If somebody beats you, then they beat you. All you can do is control yourself.
So that's what I did. I kept my head down and kept doing what I wanted to do and somehow it worked out.

Q. Were you pretty disappointed with the 7-iron shot you hit? And then you get up there and you get pretty nasty lie and now you've got the water behind the hole and all that. Tell us about what's going through your head in all that?
BUBBA WATSON: As of right now, I loved it. I loved everything about it. At the time, we knew that I pushed it. And I knew from 190 yards away, if the lie was any kind of decent, we could just play it down that slope right to the hole. Normally it goes faster down that slope, but today it had a little bit of rain a few minutes before, so it was a little slower.
We get there and saw that we had a lip. In my head all I could think about is make par, he has to make birdie, we tie. If he makes eagle, he beats me. So it came out perfect on my chip shot, but just that water slowed it up a little bit. Then I was like if we make this, he really has to make a three now, so somehow I made it.
But, I never got down, because I was always thinking I had a one-shot lead. So just make a par at worst. If it comes out great, we still have a chance for birdie.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about you played with a rookie today, even though he won last week. And what you thought about him and how sort of tough he hung in there all day?
BUBBA WATSON: He played great. We're rookies when you first get on the TOUR, but at the same time, if you come from the Nationwide Tour, it's a stepping stone. It's just like Amateur golf, high school golf, to college golf, to Amateur golf, to pro golf. The Nationwide Tour is a great stepping stone.
I played there for three years and learned a lot about myself and how my mind's messed up. But I think he's won on the Nationwide Tour. He played great. He made it through the Nationwide Tour to get here. He won last week, so the guy can play golf.
Even though it says rookie by his name, I mean, he started playing pro golf against people that used to be on the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour. Guys that can play golf out there, they just don't make it to the TOUR.
So he's a rookie, but his mind was so good. His golf swing is really good. Putting and chipping, just some days if he had putted a little better today or hit a couple more iron shots, he would have won today. He's a great player. He's great to have for the game. Hopefully he can help golf in his home country there.

Q. A couple days ago you talked about the work you've done on your putting and trying to improve that aspect of your game. Obviously today probably the two biggest shots you hit were the putt on 17 and 18. Talk about both those putts and how it tied into the work you've been doing with it?
BUBBA WATSON: I think today I missed some putts that I could have made some other day, maybe on Thursday I would have made them. But the ball just didn't go my way a couple putts. I three-putted a hole, had a couple of three-putts this week.
And again, I just kept thinking about the process. I practice these putts. Every time I walked in I said I practiced these putts. It's just like on the putting green, this is what we practiced. Keep your head down, stroke it, and let's pick it out of the hole.
When I missed putts early in the day, you think if I make this I'm still one up. And on 18 I'm like he has to eagle if I make this, so somehow they both went in. It just worked out that I won this week. Next week could be the same thing. Whoever has a one shot lead, I could miss both of them, but this week it worked out for me.

Q. Can you just talk about your emotions. Your dad isn't here now, and it was a tough year last year. What did winning today mean? Did you think he was watching at all somewhere?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, what I believe in life as a Christian, I believe that, yes, he's up there he's watching and he's cheering me on. It's my sister's birthday today, so it was nice for our family that I won on my sister's birthday.
Still have a great mom and a great sister and great nephew and a beautiful wife. So there's always people in my corner cheering for me, even though my dad's not here. So, yeah, I thought about him a little bit.
But at the same time, I thought about him after the made the putt on 18. I looked up to the sky, but at the same time I knew that Phil Mickelson's a great wedge player, so I can't get too emotional yet.
Till once I realized he laid up. I wanted to be emotional and think about it. But at the same time, I had to think about the playoff.

Q. On the course you won last year, you had the PGA, the Ryder Cup, what do you learn from all the experiences? How are you different from this time last year?
BUBBA WATSON: I learned that no matter how many rounds of golf you played, how many times you've been in the lead, and how many times you've won, you still get nervous. I was scared to death out there.
Kept telling myself I've done this before. I've hit many golf balls. I can do this. I've shot many low rounds before, it's just this time happens to be with the crowd and media and everybody in the world watching.
I love the game of golf, so I'm nervous every time. I'm nervous on Thursday. I'm nervous on Wednesday, playing my Pro-Am partners. I want to play good at the game of golf. And you can't perfect it, so there is always that bad shot just lurking.
For me it's fun. I got a chance to win another golf tournament. Been blessed to win my second golf tournament. A lot of guys don't ever win a golf tournament out here on the PGA TOUR, and I've got two. So no matter what happens, I've got two now. So it's fun but nerve-racking, every shot, every step of the way.

Q. Do you look at yourself any differently?
BUBBA WATSON: Oh, I've lost some weight (laughing). I thought you were talking about me, do I look any different. Do I look any different at what?

Q. At yourself as a player than you did a year ago.
BUBBA WATSON: No, I still think I'm goofy Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida, that hits a ball every once in a while with a pink shaft real far. I don't see myself as a rock Star, fan favorite, I see myself as Bubba Watson from Bagdad that loves to play the game of golf.

Q. Did you feel more confident?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I'm still nervous, just like you writing this article you're going to write. Now, you get nervous, don't lie (laughing).

Q. You referred to that your mind is messed up that you learned on the Nationwide Tour. Who did you work with in the off-season, if anybody, to help focus on the mental side of the game?
BUBBA WATSON: I worked with myself. You know what, truthfully today all day today when I got, when I started getting the heartbeat up and got my mind racing, I started thinking about what kind of speech you're going to give, stuff like that.
When I did that, all I thought about was me being a Christian and believing what I believe. I just kept saying prayers to myself. If you notice, I keep my head down, so I'm always talking to myself, I've got a lot of issues, so I'm always talking to myself. I've got a lot of issues, I keep my head down. Try not to pay attention to what the fans are yelling. Just trying to stay focused on my job and what I need to do to play better golf.
For me, I just said a bunch of prayers not about winning the golf tournament, just about staying focused. If I hit bad shots, who cares. That means I put my best effort forward and hit a bad shot.
I had a perfect 7-iron into 18 yesterday. I hit it close, and today I pushed it. I can't get mad at bad shots but I can get mad at myself for not focusing and not being committed to shots.
Every winter my caddy calls me and tells me what we should do and how we can get better. We talk about it. Last year we made great strides to that. This year, so far I haven't gotten down yet, so it's working right now.
All it is is me and myself and battling my own self. I don't need anybody to tell me what's wrong. I know what's wrong. I've just got to fix it somehow.

Q. You said something earlier about you got on the Nationwide and you found out how messed up you were. What did you mean by that and what did you find out?
BUBBA WATSON: At home there's a lot of great players. I can beat everybody at my home club. Where I was growing up, I won all my local tournaments. Shooting good scores at your home track is easy, well, not easy, but it's easier for a pro.
So for me, it's easy out there. I don't think about stuff. I drive in the golf cart and play about three-hour rounds. I don't think I ever make bogeys. It's just easy. You don't worry about the results because you're just trying to fire at the pins and beat whoever you're playing with.
Out here, it's different. And on the Nationwide Tour I realized the game is different, the game is different inside the ropes. You've got people looking at you. You've got people cheering for you, people cheering against you. You've got media following you around. And you've got different things going on that you don't have at home.
At home there's nobody following you. Nobody could care a less what you're doing.

Q. Did you find out there are 200 other guys who are as good as you or almost as good as you?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, that was my next point. You jumped to it. There are a lot of players better than me. I've never been number one in the world. I've never won a Nationwide Tour event. So for me to come out here and win, it is special.
Yeah, it's just different. The whole atmosphere is different. So I learned a lot about it. I've got to keep my head down because I tend to wander around. My mind, I'm looking at people flying around in kites. I'm looking at how beautiful the water is.
I'm scared of heights, so I'm looking at the cliffs. So I'm looking at stuff I shouldn't be looking at while I'm trying to play golf. So my caddy's like, get focused. We're playing golf still. I learned that it's going to be hard for me, but I'm trying to do it on my own. So far it's working. I keep coming in here every once in a while, so it's nice.

Q. How ambitious are you? Can you be a Top 5 player?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't even know what ambitious means. Redneck terms. Can I be a what now?

Q. Can you be a Top 5 player and win majors?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, in my mind, I believe I can. Now actually producing it on the golf course is a different story. I want to. I want to be number one in the world. I want to win every golf tournament. Next week I'm going to try to win. I want to perform every week.
I want to be on every Ryder Cup team. I want to be on every Presidents Cup team. I want to talk to you guys every week (smiling). I believe I can do it. I truly believe it. But it's calming myself down inside the ropes. Now inside the ropes, do I believe it? That will be a different story.
And right now I do. I believed it, but haven't really executed the way I want to. I get down. So if I can just stay up and not be down on my self all the time, yes, I believe I can get there.

Q. To win on a U.S. Open golf course with a great leaderboard, what's that do for this self-belief?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, any time you win you're going to have a higher belief in yourself. Tor win on any golf course, I could careless what golf course it is or the competition is, because everybody's great. That's what the sign used to say. These guys are good. You know, it's the PGA TOUR.
No matter who is in the field, the field's great. So for me to win a golf tournament is great. It's a special day and a special honor to be blessed to have two wins on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Did you ask your dad to influence that wedge shot by Phil?
BUBBA WATSON: No. All I thought about is in the scoring tent, why hasn't he hit yet? He's taking forever to hit. Could somebody tell me what's going on? Then I thought what are we going to do? Are we on 18? And I had to think about playing 18 again, and then he missed. So I did not have to worry about that anymore.

Q. It seems like you've been on the last five or six months. First of all, you won, then you played so well in Ryder Cup. Everything seems to, except for the loss of your father, to be going your way. Is there something that clicked and happened?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I started making more putts. There's nothing that clicks. I mean, just like I said earlier, I was nervous on 18. I was nervous on the bunker shot. I was nervous knowing that he could still hole it.
It's nothing that clicks, it's just executing. For some reason I'm executing right now. I'm in a good frame of mind. My life is where I want it to be. Everything's just going my way.
There are going to be days -- I missed the cut last week. We were at Bob Hope. I played great, I just didn't make any putts. If you looked, I averaged like 32 putts a round or something on good greens. For some reason I made two putts coming down the stretch here to make me win.
I haven't played bad. I haven't shot over par this year. I'm just playing good golf. The breaks just haven't gone my way. It's one of those things where stuff's going my way right now.

Q. Do you feel like you've gotten to another plateau with your game?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, every year you have to think that you're getting better. No matter what your score shows, you have to get better. My dad always taught me back in the old days when I started out, each year you've got to get better and better. Just keep stepping up. No matter how high the step is, you just have to step up each time.
So far I seem like I'm getting better. And having better finishes out here on TOUR. Obviously, I won last year and I've got a win now. So I feel like I'm stepping up, and hopefully I never step backwards. But it's always a learning process. You never perfect it.

Q. How were you as a kid as far as being distracted and being in the classroom and all that stuff? Were you kind of an ADD-type kid? Or is it more the golf that brings that on?
BUBBA WATSON: No, it's everyday life. I've never been to the doctor to be tested to see if I have ADD or whatever, any kind of disorders. But we're just guessing, I probably do (laughing).
No, in the classroom, I talked a lot. I got in trouble for talking because I couldn't sit still. But truly what kid wants to sit in the classroom for an hour? That's just boring stuff. It's just the same as me.
I don't want to sit on the driving range for an hour, that gets boring. So for me, yeah, it's hard. Growing up I was that way, but what kept me interested is the game of golf, all sports, because you can never perfect a sport. And golf is the main one. You can always hit different shots. You can always do things and get better at the game.
Tiger's the closest thing we've seen to perfection with all his wins he's had in a short time. I've got two. So I'm way behind him and his perfection.
But it's a struggle just because I grew you up that way. I grew up just wanting to do everything and never paid attention enough -- never paid attention over an hour, I don't think.

Q. As much as you talked about just getting pars, play conservative, you were going right for the pin on your chip, you were going for the pin on your approach on 15. Is aggressive just your version of conservative at this point?
BUBBA WATSON: I never said I was conservative. I just said is that I'm trying to be focused on what I want to do and worry about my shots. I was 1 up, I think, at the time on 15. I'm looking at making birdies. I had short irons in my hand and looking at hitting good shots and making birdies.
I don't shy away from the pin. The only time I shied away from the pin was the par-3 because it started a rain storm so I didn't know what was going on. I shied away from the pin because the long iron's not going to stop on the green right at it. So I shied away there to make par.
But the other times I'm trying to attack the pin all the time, trying to birdie, trying to have perfection, trying to get 18 birdies in a row.

Q. You went out with the Seals this week on a serious note, are you going to add that as part of your pretournament regiment now?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, me and Rickie Fowler went and played laser tag the day before, Saturday night before I won last time. This time the seals, so we're going to try to find something next week, do something.
It's fun. We had the military out here on the green. I think it's great when we honor the military. That's the heros, the people that give us the chance to hit the white ball for a living. Without them protecting us and making us free, we don't get to do this. Y'all don't get to do what you do. They're fighting for our country.
For them to step up and me to hang out with them for a while -- I didn't jump out of the plane though. I'm too afraid for that. But I shot some guns, went on a boat ride with them, and got to meet them and talk to some of the guys. Some of the guys had just gotten back from Iraq, so it was cool and an honor to do that with them.

Q. You got a surfboard as a prize, when are you going to take it out in the water, and what is your biggest concern, and are you goofy foot or regular foot?
BUBBA WATSON: I've never surfed in my life, so I have no idea. It just sounds right, I'm probably goofy. You know what, I've got a lake house in North Carolina, and I'll probably take it on the water just to see if I can stand up on it when there's no waves and try to make it into a paddle board.
But I love wakesurfing behind my boat, so it's a different board though. The boards only five foot long, so it's different than on the beach, so we'll probably try it there too. Hopefully I don't break it when I try it behind the boat.

Q. If you wouldn't mind running through your birdies?
BUBBA WATSON: No. 3, I hit a -- shoot, what did I hit? I think I hit 7-iron today or 8. I think it was 7. It was a perfect club though. 183, little into the breeze, so I hit a 7-iron in there.
Slice driver on 6. Had to lay-up out of the bunker. Had 126 hole, hit a little 56 degree, tried to land it short of the hole. Went up three, four fit. Wiggled that in there.
The bogey on 7, hit driver in the bunker. Ripped a 6-iron out of the bunker and then putted it to about, oh, man, three feet. Then just missed it. I guess I pulled it or something.
9, I hit driver down the middle. Had 255 hole, I think, somewhere around there. Hit 3-iron about five feet short of the green and just putted it, two-putted it for a birdie.
11, I birdied 11. That's a good hole. 11 I just tried to rope a 6-iron in there. I think it was playing like 201, 206 hole back into the breeze. So I tried to hook a 6-iron in there and tried to run it around the green, somehow did it, and made about a 15-footer for birdie.
13, oh, man, I hit a good drive there. On the down slope, tried to hit wedge from like 161, and it came up just short, but it stayed in the rough so it was a pretty easy chip. Chipped it to a couple of inches and made birdie.
18, I hit a good driver down there. Pushed my 7-iron, and then the rest is history.

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