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February 18, 2015

Bubba Watson


LAURA NEAL:  We'd like to welcome Bubba Watson, defending champion here at the Northern Trust Open.  Thank you for joining us.  A lot has happened since you last sat here at Riviera Country Club, a lot of good stuff.  Maybe just talk about coming back into this week, the good memories of winning this tournament and how that really set you up for an incredible 2014.
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Yeah, I thought I was playing good.¬† We all think we're playing good, and then barely made the cut here.¬† And then shot, I guess lights‑out, 64‑64 I think it was, no bogeys; and around this golf course, to make no bogeys, it's tricky around here with this kind of grass.
So to go bogey‑free was pretty special.¬† And then have a win on top of that, having my son there, first win after the 2012 Masters, it was a big deal.¬† It kind of got me springboarded in the right direction.¬† Played good the rest of the year, my best year on TOUR, and then another Masters and then China, HSBC.
So, yeah, it was a good spring board.  Got me over the hump without winning since 2012, so it was nice.  Nice to get that win and that great weekend.

Q.  What's it like to have a daughter?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Oh, it's fun.¬† It's a different‑‑ I guess you have to be softer.¬† You have to be more gentle, I guess you'd say.¬† My son is turning three this week.¬† So, you know, he wants to wrestle.¬† He wants to jump around and run into things, and my daughter, she's three months old now, so, you know, she still can't move or do anything like that.¬† But still, you can just tell, softer, and Angie wants to dress her up like she's a baby doll.¬† She's got all these hair bows and all these things to make sure you know she's a female.
It's different.  It's a different feeling.  Same feeling, same loving feeling, but different girl from boy.  He's a tank and she's a little princess I guess.

Q.  You used the word spring board.  When you look back at last year and winning here and then going on to win the Masters, how much did playing well on the West Coast, do you think give you in terms of confidence going into the Masters?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† I'm all about energy level and about focus, and so for me, the West Coast, it seems like I played pretty good on the West Coast and then when it gets hot and later in the year, I kind of struggle‑‑ not struggle, but just the focus; miss a putt here, miss a putt there, miss a shot here, miss a shot there.
My record has not shown as well second half of the year, I guess you could say.  Now the year goes all the way around, never having a break.  I still do it off the calendar year.  I don't do it off of whatever we're doing.
So I look at it as it gets me excited.¬† It gets me excited about the game.¬† Try to take all of December off or half of December off or half of November off and some of October off where I feel like I have some kind of an off‑season.
So I always get excited.¬† I get excited about the West Coast ‑‑ doesn't matter if it's the West Coast or East Coast or wherever we start, I just get excited about the new year and the new season starting.¬† I guess I'm like a little kid; the sugar runs out and I die halfway through the through the year.
It's fun, and I have, I've got off to a good start.  Seems like Doral is my key.  If I finish second in Doral, I'm going to have a good shot at Doral because every time I've won the Masters, I've finished second at Doral.  Hope I finish second at Doral this year.

Q.  We hear players talk about how special this course.  Is what is it about this place that makes it special in your eyes?
BUBBA WATSON:  Right off the bat for me personally, I say that they don't tweak it.  It's been the same.  They added a tee box on 2 but I don't know if we have even used yet.  I have not seen too many changes that I was worried about.  They are letting the golf course just defend itself.
And then when you look at the history, the great names, like Bubba Watson on the trophy, things like that (laughter), you look at the great names on there, it's an honor to be a part of.
Every tournament has history, but I see it personally for me as they don't tweak it.  They just leave it the way it is.  I'm surprised they haven't tried to move the clubhouse yet, make No. 1 a lot farther like a lot of golf courses think they need to do is add length.
They leave it here, and they let the grass and the winds and the humps and bumps of the greens define their golf course instead of trying to make it extra long.

Q.  Will you or have you taken a walk through the clubhouse and looked at all of the memorabilia and the past artifacts from long ago?
BUBBA WATSON:  You know, they have them in our locker room walking down to where we eat.  Obviously there's stuff on the walls.  Yes, I've seen them.  They have different hats, different clubs, different golf from different champions, past champions here.  I've seen them throughout the years.  Not a special trip, just the way we walk, we have to see them kind of.
So, yeah, I've seen them all, or most of them.

Q.¬† As a self‑taught golfer, when things do go off‑kilter, do you always know what it is and how to fix it, and what's that process like?
BUBBA WATSON:  Yes, I definitely know what it is and how to fix it.  Now, do I do it is the other question.
It's all mental for me.  I don't see physically there's a shot that I can't perform.  And so if I'm focused, my mind is in the right spot, I've got enough energy to stay focused, then I can perform at a high level.  I've gotten better at it.  My consistency level, less missed cuts; you're going to have bad days.  It's just about how do you save them to still make the cut to make it to the weekend.
So I think I've gotten better at it.¬† It's all mental for me.¬† It's all about where I am at in my life, where I am at in my focus, my dedication to each shot.¬† And that's the biggest challenge for me.¬† It's not physical.¬† We can all hit shots.¬† We can all make putts.¬† Now, can we do it week‑in, week‑out.

Q.¬† You're one of only a few golfers known by people who don't follow golf as a rule on a first‑name basis.¬† Why do you think you transcend golf?
BUBBA WATSON:  I don't see that I do that, but if we're going to go with that, yeah, I think I'm awesome (laughter).
I think just who doesn't want to say the name Bubba?  (Laughter) so easier to say than Bubba Watson.  Let's shorten it.  It's one of those things.
You know, Tiger is just more fun to say than Tiger Woods.  I think Phil, they call him Lefty, even though I'm a lefty.  There's a few lefties on TOUR now.  No, it's just one of those things.  How much for fun is it to have a country name Bubba, to yell that out when you're out goofing around, watching.

Q.  Apart from your wins last year, you mentioned this a few moments ago, hugely improved consistency.  Seems like it's more the same this year.  Are you feeling that, and how would you compare your feeling coming into Riviera this week to this time last year?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Yeah, I played in‑‑ well, if you go for the '14‑'15 season, we'll call it, calendar year now, I've only played in three tournaments:¬† HSBC, Maui and Phoenix, Waste Management.
My consistency, I've Top‑10'ed in all of them.¬† The two cuts I missed last year were the major championships, I think it was the British Open and the U.S. Open, is where I missed my cuts last year.¬† Tough venue, tough golf courses.
But yeah, I'm looking forward to it.  I'm looking forward to the challenge of competing at a high level again.  I've taken two weeks off.  Trying to save energy and save focus by changing my schedule around and stretching my gaps of weeks off.
I feel refreshed, feel excited to be here.  Yeah, last year, the same way.  I barely made the cut.  Not sure if I made it on the number or made it by one last year.  Thought I was playing great the first two days and somehow lit it up on the weekend.
I'd like to play a little better on the first two days this week, but I'm feeling great.¬† I look forward to it and hopefully I can go bogey‑free again so I can just keep that no bogeys going around this golf course.

Q.  What does Shanghai mean to you, not only the field that you beat, but the fact that you won overseas and the way you won?  How much have you fed on that since then?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, it's funny, when you look at China, HSBC, when you look at it as a whole, at the time, I wasn't allowed to talk about it, but I knew for a fact that we were about to adopt a baby girl.  Angie was going to be at the hospital.
So when I chipped in, all the stuff that went on, and then behind closed doors, all the stuff that went on:  I knew that an I didn't was already in the state; she was already in the hospital; she was already there with the mother.
So chipping in and then making that putt, that scream, all those things, were because of the stuff behind the closed doors that nobody knew about.¬† When I talked to Angie on the phone, she stayed up to watch me obviously.¬† The things that were going on behind closed doors, you know, adopting our first son the week before I won the Masters; now adopting a baby girl when I won a World Golf Championship‑‑ I need to keep adopting I guess.
When you look at all of that together, personal reasons, wanting to win outside the U.S., wanting to win a World Golf Championships, want to do two things at once.  When you add it all up, it was a big week for me, a big challenge, a big struggle, and a big cheer, I guess you would say.  So doing all those things at once, it was a big deal for my family and a big deal for my own personal satisfaction for being able to win outside the U.S. at least once.

Q.¬† When you look, obviously last year, 64‑64 here, and then great performance at the Masters and as we mentioned, China there.¬† So much as you said, dedication to focus and energy this year, really focusing on that, too.¬† How good can Bubba Watson be?¬† We've seen some great stuff so far, but how good can he be?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, I think I'm as good as I can be right now.  I don't see anything that I need to really change or do differently.  Now it's the other people around me, hopefully they start struggling so I get even better or I look even better (laughter).
Right now, I'm on top of my game.¬† Doesn't mean I'm going to play good this week.¬† Doesn't mean I'm going to play good the rest of the year.¬† Just means right now, I'm playing good.¬† I've had I think three, like I said, three Top‑10s in a row.¬† They are all spread out over about a six‑month period but everything's in the right place in my life.¬† I'm thinking better.¬† I'm focused on the right things outside of golf.
I realize that golf is just a sport, and it doesn't mean that my son is going to like me or love me any more or any less depending on what I shoot.  My wife is still going to be there no matter my miss the cut or make the cut.  There's a lot of positives in my life I have to look at the right way.  We're heading in the right direction.  I can't help what other guys do.  If a guy comes out and wins 13 tournaments in a row, 14 tournaments in a row and beats me, that's not my fault.  It's just I tried my hardest and he beat me.

Q.  Among the best Americans right now, we've seen obviously Phil step away a little bit and of course Tiger step away.  What do you make of kind of the opening up there in terms of the American game about how could be the best American at this moment?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, again, I don't see we see the World Rankings as best American, best Australian, best European player.  We see it as golfers.  When we step on our field of play on the golf courses, we don't look over and go, he's from America, I want to beat him.  We just see a golfer.  I want to beat Rickie  Fowler; I want to beat Jordan Spieth, not just because where they are from, just because they are in the field and we want to beat them.
The World Ranking is No. 1.¬† No. 1 is where everybody wants to be, and to do that you've got to play great golf.¬† So, again‑‑ or you have to hope that the other guys struggle and you somehow move up.
Again, it's a tough question because we are not looking at trying to be the best American.  I'm just looking to play golf and win.  The more trophies I have, the higher I'm going to be on the World Ranking.

Q.  Do you have a take on Davis Love being the next Ryder Cup Captain?
BUBBA WATSON:  I think it's great.  You know, he's a great champion.  When you look at The Ryder Cup, The Ryder Cup captaincy, what I've always seen growing up was about, it was an honor, it was an honor and a privilege.  You had a great career.  Basically like the Hall of Fame.  Getting in the Hall of Fame means you had a great career.
Becoming Ryder Cup Captain, becoming Presidents Cup Captain, means you've had to do some great things on and off the course, and it was an honor.  Davis Love is not going to give me any swing tips that's going to make me better.  If I make putts, I make a point for him; if I miss putts, probably not going to make a point.  Or if I make nine birdies and the other team beats me, like at Ryder Cup this year; me and Matt Kuchar played unbelievable and got drilled.
So when you look at it that way, The Ryder Cup captaincy should be about his honor of his career and what he means to the game of golf, and that's where Davis Love obviously he shows that tremendously.

Q.¬† You know Rickie Fowler as well as anyone on the TOUR.¬† He's not here this week‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  He got a new cell phone number this week in anybody wants to know (laughter).

Q.  What do you think is keeping him from winning more?
BUBBA WATSON:  Just like I said earlier.  Everybody's good at this game.  No. 200 in the world, he's still No.200 in the world, you know what I mean, there's not that many people ahead of him.  It's not about that Rickie needs to do something better.  Obviously we all need to make more putts.  That's a given.
But Rickie Fowler is doing some great golf.¬† I mean, he Top‑5'ed or Top‑10'ed in every major, I think it was Top‑5 in every major, wasn't it, something like that.¬† He played great golf in every single major.¬† He just didn't win because one guy played better on one day or played better a couple days and beat him.
So it wasn't that he could do anything better or make a better decision or whatever.  It's just, you know, a guy chipped in or a guy made some long putts or some guy got lucky and birdied some holes that he didn't.  I think he's going about it the right way.  I think he's getting better.  I mean, he's still young.  So I don't see that there's anything that he could do differently, unless you just say make more putts.  Everybody can say that.

Q.¬† You were at the City of Hope last week to interact with the kids and participate in a grilled cheese‑off.¬† Can you talk a little about the experience there?
BUBBA WATSON:  Yeah, when you look back 2010, my dad passed away of throat cancer and going back to a kids cancer research hospital, City of Hope, it's pretty spectacular, the work and the efforts they are putting in trying to help, not just kids but everybody.
I met a couple of older people there, older gentleman there from Hawai'i that I met, and seeing that, seeing the smiles on their faces when you come in, a couple golf fans that were in there.  That shows that golf is just a sport; but golf, we can use our platform in the right direction.  Just seeing some kids smile because they have got a signed visor; one person there had a flag all ready for me because they were a big fan of mine.  So that's where it shows that we are just playing a sport but we have got to use the platform in the right direction.
And so for me to go there and see this and see how blessed I am‑‑ and then the saddest thing, though, was the cook‑off, and there's three kids, and I have to tell two of them that, yours isn't good enough.¬† You know, I was like, I don't want to tell these kids no.¬† Can we just make all three?¬† So I had to pick a kid.¬† But telling them no after they are sitting there working on these grilled cheeses was the toughest thing to do.
But no, it was fun.¬† I think I learned more from doing that‑‑ I look up to people like that, or kids like that and families like that that are dealing with that their whole life or years.¬† I'm out here getting mad at a 3‑putt or a bogey shows how messed up my mental game already is, getting mad on a golf course when it's a beautiful place to be and I'm blessed to be able to do that.
I think situations like that, going to the City of Hope, it shows how much these doctors care but it also shows how more we can do to help.

Q.  There's always waves of good young players coming on the TOUR, but when you look at Spieth and Reed and Thomas and Koepka and those guys, what sets them apart from other people who were in that situation maybe before?
BUBBA WATSON:  I just think that, you know, the game of golf has changed so much.  There's so many young people around the world from all walks of life from all countries, all different cultures.  And right now, with Koepka, I'm hitting it miles, Rickie Fowler obviously getting more consistent on the tough golf courses; Jordan Spieth, again, he's a great talent, fiery competitor.
I think the game of golf is going in the right direction.  At some point, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Davis Love, Fred Couples, they are all going to have to quit the game of golf.  And so we've got some great talent across the board.
McIlroy is pretty good, too.¬† He's pretty young still, too.¬† We have so much talent across the board that's coming up that are going to carry this game to where we need it to go to grow, and with guys like Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, there are so many young kids wanting to do it now and want to go play; McIlroy, people want to get in the gym now and lift weights‑‑ I'm not doing that.
But our game is going in the right direction, and I think sometimes we think that it's not, but it is.¬† We are going in the right direction and I think the young guys are going to help bring it.¬† More and more young kids out here with flat‑billed hats than I've ever seen in my life.¬† Nobody is wearing advisors out here.
But no, it's good.  I think we are in a great position, we are in a great position for the future with these young guys that are great role models but also great champions.

Q.  What's your opinion of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson?
BUBBA WATSON:  I played with Dubuisson when he was an amateur, I think last time I played St. Andrews.  He's a great talent.  Obviously his short game is pretty good as we've seen in the Match Play last year, some of those shots from the desert.
I feel like he's going to be, again, a great champion.  You're going to hear about him for years and years to come, as long as he stays dedicated.  He's a special guy because he can hit it a pretty good ways, great iron play but great short game.  To keep your name on that leaderboard, you've got to have a good short game and he's doing that and showing that over the past few years, as an amateur and as a professional.

Q.¬† You are known for your shot‑making.¬† Of modern day players, is there one guy that stands out who you would like to see how they manufacture a shot against the odds?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, if you look at it, there are some guys that move the ball, they might not move it as much as me but everybody can move the ball when they need to.  When they are in trouble, they know how to slice it or hook it.
When I played with Tiger, when me and Tiger played a lot of practice rounds together, the reason why I wanted to play with Tiger, you're learning from the greatest.  He's one or two greatest of all time.  Tiger moved the ball just as much as I did, and so I wanted to watch and learn how he did it.
I mean, we've seen him hit the slice 3‑woods off the deck and somehow it's a kick‑in for eagles and stuff.¬† So that was the first guy that I wanted to come out and watch, and obviously Phil Mickelson, his imagination or short game.¬† So those are a couple examples.
And Sergio, he can draw the ball, cut the ball.  He's one of the best with the driver in his hands.  So there's a lot of guys in this modern game that we are watching.  Jordan Spieth is not scared to move the ball once in awhile to get the ball in play.
So there's young to old that can move it.  A lot of guys can move it; they don't want to, but when they are in trouble, we can all move it a little bit.
LAURA NEAL:  Thanks for your time, good luck this week.

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