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January 30, 2013
PHIL STAMBAUGH:Â We welcome 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson into the interview room here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, seventh appearance in the tournament, tied for fifth last year.Â You're making your second start of the season on the PGA TOUR after a T4 at the Hyundai Champions at Kapalua.Â A couple general thoughts.Â I know it was probably an exciting day with Michael out there in the pro‑am.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, it was.Â It was nice.Â It was nice to get back on the golf course.Â I pulled out last week because I had strep throat in Maui and then I had the flu last week, and so my energy level is not where I want it to be, about 80 percent right now, but I feel healthy but just the energy level is not really there with all the medicine I was taking.
It's a struggle.Â My golf game is not where I want it to be, but playing with Phelps, playing with the CEO of Waste Management, it was fun.Â We had a great time.Â A great champion like Michael Phelps, it's an honor to play with, an honor to be friends with, and to watch a great athlete like that try to play another sport, it's a fun thing, and it's just fun to be out there in beautiful weather today.
PHIL STAMBAUGH:Â Being a resident of the area, I know you look forward to this event every year.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, I do.Â Usually the weather is really good.Â The golf course is always in great shape.Â We have a little bit of cold weather in the mornings usually, but then it warms up, and you can really play some good golf around here because of the weather and the conditions of the course.
Q.Â Did he help you with your swimming stroke at all?
BUBBA WATSON:Â No, we didn't talk much about swimming, I just wanted to make fun of his golf game.
Q.Â I'll bet he loved that.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, I think he really enjoyed it.
Q.Â How would you assess his golf game?
BUBBA WATSON:Â It's one of those things where it's a great athlete, one of the best Olympians, or the best Olympian, coming to a different sport, so obviously it's a big change, different mental set, different mental focus, and he's not used to it.Â He hasn't had the practice that we've had.Â But you can see he's an athlete and he's competitive, so he could be good if he practiced and put some time into it.
Q.Â He has serious potential?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Oh, for sure.Â Any athlete of that level has a chance to be good at another sport.
Q.Â What's the best part of his game?
BUBBA WATSON:Â That he's done with 18 holes. Â (Laughter.)
No, the best thing is that, again, it's his mental drive to get better.Â He wants to compete, he wants to play this game because it's a frustrating game, and his short game, you can see where he's going to have a good touch when he gets some practice in.Â He said he hasn't played a round of golf in a long time, so this is his first time out on the golf course.Â He's hit balls, but this is his first time on the golf course, and with a crowd like this it's a little nerve wracking.
Q.Â Do his flippers have spikes or are they spikeless?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I think he's got big enough feet.Â He doesn't need flippers, does he?
Q.Â So as a natural player yourself, which way do you think he should go?Â Should he try to play the game naturally or go get lessons?
BUBBA WATSON:Â No, he should definitely get lessons on The Golf Channel on the Hank Haney Project.Â I think everybody to their own.Â For me, I'm different, so I just choose not to have lessons.Â It's worked for me, but for other guys it's worked to have a coach.Â Tiger has done pretty well having a swing coach, so I'm not going to tell him not to have a swing coach.
Q.Â How have you had to balance kind of getting back and being healthy but wanting to be out there practicing?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yesterday was the first time I played golf, and so about seven days off, taking medicine, so I'm still kind of under the weather trying to get the medicine out of me, kind of groggy, but just don't have the energy.Â I lost about 10 pounds since Maui, but I want to be out there competing.Â This is what I do for a living, so I've got to get out there at some point and get the energy level back and try to get the flow of golf again.
But it's hard, it's hard knowing that I can't hit the shots had I want to hit energy level, the power to do it.Â So it was rough out there today.Â It was rough yesterday for the first time playing, and then it was rough today.Â But hopefully I can get some juices flowing and play good this week.
Q.Â Last year was your best year; what are your plans for this year, your goals for this year?
BUBBA WATSON:Â The goals are always the same:Â Make the team event; this year happens to be the Presidents Cup; win a golf tournament; compete in golf tournaments; Sunday afternoon in majors have a chance to win, and that's always been the goal.Â That's the goal every year.
I don't set a goal how many wins, I just want to win, so it doesn't matter if it's ten wins or one win, I just want to win each year so I can get back to Maui, so that's always the goal.Â That's the main goals of every year.
Q.Â Do you expect to be at your peak when you defend in April?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I hope to be.Â You know, all it is is just a few more weeks of rest and getting ready, and I should be back to 100 percent in the next week or so, and then hopefully be ready to go and my stride will hit again right at the right time.
Q.Â How do things work for you on this course in particular since long hitters have done fairly well?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, this golf course, I think it really‑‑ it's about putting.Â If you can putt well, a lot of guys are going to hit fairways, a lot of guys are going to reach these par‑5s, so you're going to have a lot of birdies, a lot of birdie opportunities, so it's about converting on the greens.Â These greens normally roll pretty well, but you've just got to make the putts, and for me I'm not really known as the best putter in the world, so I've just got to try to make some putts.
Q.Â I have a two‑part question.Â What do you know about deer antler spray?
BUBBA WATSON:Â That's actually the first part then?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I know that it's obviously illegal, whatever it is.Â It sounds like something I would never want near me.Â But no, that's all I know of it.Â I know somehow it's illegal, and that's all really I know of it.
Q.Â Had you ever heard of it before‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:Â I've never taken deer antler‑‑ I don't even know how you take deer antler spray‑‑
Q.Â Had you ever heard of it?
BUBBA WATSON:Â No, not until yesterday.Â I saw something ‑‑ I got done playing golf, my miserable round of golf yesterday, but I got done playing golf, and I saw the headline scrolling under, and we started talking in the clubhouse at my home course, Estancia.Â We were like, what is dear antler spray, what is that, and why would anybody want to take something that sounds like that.
Q.Â My second part is it sounds so silly and yet perhaps this is a window into what some people will do to get an advantage, a competitive advantage.Â How does that make you feel to know that there are these lengths that people will go to try to outdrive you or outscore you?
BUBBA WATSON:Â You know, it's funny, people‑‑ we all make mistakes, we all do some bad things in our lives.Â It's about overcoming the bad things, bad mistakes.Â But truthfully, it's sad that people do stuff like that.Â It's sad that people would put some weird thing like that in their body not knowing what it's going to do to their body.Â But I love a sport, I happen to play golf.Â I love this sport.Â I would never do that.Â First of all, I would never put something named that in my body, and then on top of that, it would just‑‑ I'm not going to‑‑ I don't live and die by golf, so if I can't make it on the PGA TOUR, if I lose my TOUR card, I'm never going to go to deer antler spray to try to help me.Â It would just be I'd have to find a new job.Â But yeah, it's sad that people live and die by their sport and they have to, I guess, cheat and go around it and try to better themselves with deer antler spray.
Does anybody know what that is, by the way?
Q.Â Yeah, it's an HGH.
BUBBA WATSON:Â I don't even know what that is.
Q.Â I don't want to get too complicated, but you were just sick, you probably took over‑the‑counter stuff and things like that‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:Â I took Tamiflu.Â Hopefully that's legal.
Q.Â But when you go to the pharmacy or go to the doctor and they tell you they want to give you this or give you that, do you take the time and energy to make sure that it's not on the list?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yes.Â I call my main man Ross Berlin with the PGA TOUR, and then he calls their doctor or a doctor and finds out if this stuff is right for me.Â But yeah, I always check it because that's the one thing‑‑ I've never been drunk in my life, I don't drink alcohol.Â I've never done a drug in my life, so that's the one thing I never want to be caught when people say I'm a cheater.Â Yeah, I go to lengths to make sure everything is legal.
Q.Â It's totally your responsibility then to make sure that you're not taking something that would actually be banned?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Well, I don't know whose responsibility it is, but I'm playing for millions of dollars.Â Yeah, I'm going to make sure I do everything right to be able to compete at a legal stance I guess you'd say.Â So yeah, it is, it's going to be my responsibility because why would I not do that.Â Why would I not check and make sure.Â I'm not just going to take something and ask questions later.Â I'm not going to take deer antler spray and find out what it is later, no.
Q.Â And if, in fact, someone does that, does something like that, is there any question in your mind he should be suspended?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I think we should check them for mental problems if they're taking deer antler spray.Â Yeah, that's kind of weird.Â I mean ‑‑ are you good?
Q.Â We could go all day.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Exactly, because I just want to keep saying deer antler spray.Â Who doesn't want to just keep saying that?Â Nobody knows what it is, but let me just say it.Â I want to know the guy who developed this, like why did he call it deer antler spray?
Q.Â Because it evolved from a deer.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, I know, but how do you decide, hey, I think this will help you; I'm going to get some stuff from a deer antler and we're going to be good.Â Who's the guy that thought of that?Â He might have been on something, too.
Q.Â I guess the crushed armadillo shell didn't work.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, exactly.
Q.Â Have you changed any of your equipment in the off‑season?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I changed a 4‑wood shaft.Â Obviously Ping came out with the G25 driver and the G25 fairway woods, so I've got a 4‑wood and a driver that's changed.Â But I started using that in November.Â And then I changed putters before November, so about in September I changed putters.Â Then I got a new ball in play, the new ball that came out this year.Â But a new 4‑wood shaft, I've switched over to a different one that's a little bit more stuffer, more stable, and so I hit my 4‑wood a little bit less spinny.
Q.Â Are you excited about this year?Â Have you been too sick to really get excited yet?
BUBBA WATSON:Â No, I'm always excited about the new year.Â I was looking forward to Maui, me, Angie and the baby went over there, and I‑‑ it was funny, I normally when I get sick, I'm really a sissy, so I really don't play very good golf.Â So for some reason I grinded it out, I worked as hard as I could to somehow finish tied for 4th in Maui, and then to find out‑‑ I didn't eat for about two days, day and a half, and then to go to find out as soon as I got done it was strep throat, so I took medicine for that that was legal (laughter), and then I got the flu, which a lot of people are having this year.Â Yeah, I'm looking forward to just getting healthy, getting 100 percent, so I can really compete or have a chance to compete.Â I might at least play bad golf, but at least I'll be 100 percent.
Q.Â Where are you playing after this?
BUBBA WATSON:Â What's next week?Â I'm not playing there. Â I'm playing LA hopefully.Â Hopefully I'm healthy to play LA.
Q.Â There's a lot of focus on 16 at this point every year.Â Have you seen a noticeable difference in the crowd atmosphere from when you first started coming until now?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah.Â When I started here it wasn't a football stadium.Â That's changed over the years.Â Obviously more and more people are getting involved in it, and I think as media attention, social media attention grows, more people are coming.Â More people are wanting to be here because the weather is great, and Saturday afternoon is usually the big day, you know, all the people just to the left side there off the tee have chants, people's birthdays, they're singing happy birthday, they're doing chants from colleges.
So yeah, I think it's grown because of the media attention behind it.Â It's grown, the football stadium, it's made it more unique.Â So yeah, I think it's grown naturally because of the hype behind it from the media attention.
A few years ago the media and social media wasn't there, and so now it's grown so it's getting bigger, and I think it's great for one time a year.Â If it was every week, it wouldn't be as cool, it would be played out.Â Yeah, so it's nice.
Q.Â Have you decided what you're going to do yet?
BUBBA WATSON:Â Hopefully make a par.
Q.Â No, the entrance?
BUBBA WATSON:Â I'll just decide last minute, probably go shirtless or something‑‑ no.
Q.Â Wear deer antlers.
BUBBA WATSON:Â Yeah, wear deer antlers out there.Â That would be a good one.Â If I knew where to get ‑‑ I don't hunt, so I don't know where to get deer antlers.
PHIL STAMBAUGH:Â Bubba, thanks very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports