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May 10, 2011

Bubba Watson


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Bubba Watson, our current leader in the FedExCup standings, and you're about to make your fifth start here at the THE PLAYERS. If you want to talk about your year so far and then we'll take some questions.
BUBBA WATSON: Um, the year has been good. First time getting to see this place. I've never been in here before. You know, starting here, I'm not really -- the golf course is too hard for me. I don't like the look off the tee. Tough golf course for me. I don't think I've played it that well. A couple years ago I think I shot 67 in the first round or something, made like one or two cuts maybe, if that.
But looking forward to it. I'm playing great. My mind is in the right spot, body is getting back after the win a couple weeks ago, and my mind is getting back. Looking forward to it, looking forward to the test of golf, so I can't wait. It'll be fun.

Q. If you want to be a player of a caliber that you've been showing the last couple years, even if there was a course that doesn't fit your eye, doesn't suit your game, do you have to force yourself to find ways to get around that because there is a significant chance you'd be being playing at that course? Do you find yourself doing more homework or figuring out different ways to attack it?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I'm trying to not play it that much, to not think about how tough it is for me. I'm not going to play a practice round this week. I'm just going to hit some balls tomorrow, taken the last couple days off from some golf.
There's no trick it. I've just got to man up and figure out how to play it. I've got to maybe take it easier off the tees, try to hit the fairways more, and then always just got to putt good.
So I've just got to stay focused on playing golf and not really worrying about how tough the golf course is or how hard it looks to my eye. I mean, it worked in New Orleans, I guess, so...

Q. Since this is a Pete Dye golf course and you just got off having success at a Pete Dye golf course and you played well at Harbour Town --
BUBBA WATSON: It's a great tournament, but I don't play it.

Q. Sorry. He always throws a bunch of stuff for you to look at, like it's visually intimidating.

Q. Is this that much more severe than his target points in New Orleans?
BUBBA WATSON: I think it is. It's a tough tee shots out here. The fairways are narrow. You've got a lot of bunkers, got a lot of things in your eye that's taking your eye off of what you should be thinking about. It's just tough.
I don't think the golf course -- I think this is an unbelievable golf course. It's a great golf course. It's probably the best -- one of the best we play all year; it's just hard, and I want easy. I want easy ones.
So it's just a tough test of golf. But yeah, for my eye, I get distracted pretty easy, so when he puts bunkers and little things out there, I'm distracted pretty easy.

Q. We've had more guys like outside the top 200 in the World Ranking than inside the top 10 win this year. Does that mean anything? Does anything spring to mind as far as explanation as to why we've had a lot of new faces?
BUBBA WATSON: A few years ago our thing was "These guys are good."
I think our talent pool is better and better, you know. A year ago I didn't have a win. You learn how to practice, you learn how to perform, or hopefully you learn how to practice and perform.
It's just one of those things where every sport is going to get better and better. You evolve. You learn how to prepare better for whatever sport you're in, and that's what we're doing right now. Right now -- I don't think the top players are getting worse; I think we're just getting better as a whole.
The top thousand in the world are pretty good golfers, and I think that's what we're seeing right now. We're just seeing us evolve as players and learning how to practice and prepare and get ready for a golf course.

Q. What's on balance on the golf course, what's going right for you this year? What area of your game do you think has been clicking the best?
BUBBA WATSON: I haven't hit that many out of bounds. Just keeping the ball in play. It's just my mind, really. My physical part of my game has been there for years, but now actually getting my mind working for the first time, letting me know that I'm pretty decent at the game, where if I hit a bad shot I can come back from it. My short game is good enough where I can get away from some mistakes.
It's just staying focused and knowing that one bogey doesn't ruin your day, your tournament, your life. That's where I'm at right now.
You know, I bogeyed the first hole at New Orleans a couple weeks ago, hit a terrible tee shot on the second hole and told my caddie, I said, man, I don't know what's going on. My body is just not right. I'm feeling loose. Then I knocked a wedge in there to about a foot on the second hole after chipping out, and I was back to even. I was like, I love this place, we're going to stay good.
It's just one of those things where you've just got to stay focused on what you are doing, don't worry about the media is saying. You just got to play your own game. If that means you miss the cut this week, you win next week, whatever. I missed the cut at Bob Hope and then won Torrey Pines the next week, and the rest is history. I've got to keep my mind in the right spot, and that's where it is right now.

Q. Talk about what Steve said. This week you had an amateur from your school win the Nationwide Tour on your college home course.

Q. Is that an indication maybe that talent pool goes a little bit deeper than maybe we even thought. There's some amateurs out there who --
BUBBA WATSON: Oh, yeah, there's going to be young kids out there that are going to be able to beat me, hit it farther than me, and we're showing that. Ricky is what, 13? So Rickie Fowler is pretty good. You've got Rory McIlroy who's 18, 17.
You've got all these young guys that are unbelievable talents, and they're showing and they're coming up at a younger age because they know how to practice. The people around them are teaching them how to practice and showing them how to practice, and that's all we're doing. We're learning, we're just learning quicker I guess you would say.

Q. Do you know Russell at all?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I've never met him. Good player, though.

Q. What kind of feedback have you gotten from Tiger after your comments last week?
BUBBA WATSON: I haven't talked to him yet, so I just talked to his agent, and I talked to another person in his camp last week and told them that I didn't say anything wrong. I just said my opinion, and the media runs with it.
You guys don't run with it but other people do. And so I just told him that, look, you know me. I'm good friends with you. I've been a supporter of you the whole time I've been a pro and have known you. So I'm here for you, but I didn't do anything wrong.
So yeah, the camp says I'm okay, but I haven't talked to the boss yet. (Laughter.)

Q. There's been a lot of discussion about how you like to shape the ball.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I want to hit it straight, but I don't know how to do that, so I shape it.

Q. How did you get started doing that, why do you like to do it and can you give us an example of one that's off the deep end where you moved the ball 30 or 40 yards?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't know if you heard that term in Maui. I hit a driver off the deck to about 60 yards, 305 yards out and made eagle, just one of them. And I meant to do it, too. That was a good thing.
You know, growing up I learned how to hit with whiffle balls, plastic golf balls. We have big 100-something year old trees in Bagdad, so I had to hit it low, over limbs, under limbs. I went around the house the one way so it was a cut for me, went around the house the other way so it was a draw for me. And with the plastic walls or whiffle balls it's hard to move, so I learned how to do that.
When I get to the golf course I see shapes. The hardest shot in golf, the hardest putt in golf, any shot you can think of, is the straight shot because the ball is always moving some way. So for me it's easier to see shapes. Attack the pin. If the pin's on the left, cut it in there, if the pin is on the right, draw it in there.
Yeah, there's occasions where I'm going to hit a straight ball, have to hit a straight ball, but it's a harder shot. It's the hardest shot in golf. So I just like shaping the ball. As a kid I learned how to do it just because I had to around the house, and there was no straight holes when I was imagining holes when I was growing up, so I always learned how to curve it that way.

Q. We're streaming live coverage from 13 and 17 online this week.
BUBBA WATSON: What's 13?

Q. 13 is a par-3 next to the Marriott.
BUBBA WATSON: I look up and I'm left-handed and see the water the whole time. Love that hole.

Q. Could you describe it tee to green and what you see when you step up there?
BUBBA WATSON: It sounds weird, but I always want the pin on the left side because you can make a hole-in-one that way because you've got that big slope. I think they put the pin down there twice.
When I look up because I am left-handed I see that water, I see the daunting water right there. I see the bunker short right there in the middle of the green short and you see the bunker to the right, which you can't go in. And you've got the green that's tough because if you go on one side of the slope it's a hard putt.
So pretty much the hole is just difficult for me, for my mind, my weak mind that I've got. But it's been -- it's usually around a -- I've hit anywhere from 6-iron to pitching wedge in there, so you just never know where the wind is going, what it's going to be like. But yeah, it's a very difficult hole. Par all four days is great.

Q. The other hole we're doing is 17.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, that's easy. That's a wedge. Again, there's just water everywhere, so if you're right-handed or left-handed you see water when you look up towards the hole. That hole is just so difficult, you get pumped up with all the fans around there.
The ball flies forever. I've hit anywhere from -- I've hit sand wedge in there, I hit a lob wedge one time, and then I've hit 8-irons in there because of the wind. I think I've hit in water more than I've hit it on that green, so I'm not doing very good. But I'm getting used to that drop area, though. I know where that is.
But again, just par. If you can get par out of there unless you're having to make birdie to catch the leader, but I've never had that opportunity yet. It's just a difficult hole.
They're great holes. It tricks you into thinking it's a real difficult hole when it's just a short iron. But we're human, so we think about the bad stuff.

Q. Do you think maybe we're entering the Bubba Watson era?
BUBBA WATSON: No, no. We're just -- I'm getting blessed and lucky right now, and for some reason I've won three times, which I never thought I could win one.

Q. You're No. 1 in the points list. Would you like to be No. 1 in the world one day if that worked out for you? Would that be important to you or a big deal?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes. Don't get me wrong. I play golf because I want to be the best. I want to beat you. I want to beat the guys this week. I want to beat everybody. No matter who I'm playing. I want to be considered the best in my mind.
I could care less if the world says I'm the best, but in my mind I want to be considered the best. That's what I play for. I'm trying to beat the golf course every day no matter what golf course I'm at, public course, tournament course, just playing with the boys. So yeah, it would be great.
No. 1 on the FedExCup is great right now, but at the end of the year if you say I'm No. 1 on the FedExCup then I'd be happy. Right now, it doesn't matter if I'm No. 1 or No. 10 right now. At the end of the year is where I you want to be No. 1.

Q. How important is World Ranking right to you?
BUBBA WATSON: It gets me in the big events, so it's important. Sponsor dollars go up a little bit, I'll be able to eat a little better when sponsor dollars go up. But No. 1 in the world is -- because of all the fame and all the stuff that goes with it, it just means you're the best, and that's what we all strive for. The fame and money and everything that goes with it, that's just bonus.
No player out here is thinking about that. They're thinking about becoming the best player in the world and having that No. 1 by their name.

Q. Were you surprised that the current world No. 1 chose not to play here?
BUBBA WATSON: No. I mean, the tournament is still going to go on. We still have a great field. But you've got to look at his schedule. His schedule sets up where this is just a tough week for him to get over here. He needs some time off. That's fine.
You know, I'm still going to try to beat everybody that's here. If he was here I'm still going to try to beat him if he was there. At New Orleans the world No. 1 wasn't there and I was trying to beat that field.
We aren't the media. We don't look at who's here and who's not here. I'm trying to beat 143 people no matter who's here, no matter if he's here or not.
But no, that's the thing about golf, though. He's from Europe. He plays that schedule, and he plays some over here. It just didn't fit in his schedule this year. There's a lot of great tournaments that we can't play in all of them.

Q. Did you and Fowler have a lemonade or iced tea riding on Sunday at all, and did he gloat?

Q. Last week.
BUBBA WATSON: You mean Saturday when we played?

Q. Saturday.
BUBBA WATSON: No, if you look at our stats, we both struggled. He putted really well. He made a lot of good putts, chipped in a couple times, played great. But no, he didn't go.
He was coming to my house on Sunday night, so I'd have locked the door and wouldn't have let him in if he would have gloated a little bit.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Bubba. Good luck this week.

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