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March 3, 2015

Bubba Watson


ALEX URBAN:¬† We'd like to welcome Bubba Watson to the interview room.¬† You have a good track record here at this tournament, two runner‑up finishes in the last three years‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  Made the cut every year.
ALEX URBAN:  And you also have a win at the World Golf Championships this year at the HSBC Champions.  Talk a little about how you play at the golf course and the start to your season so far.
BUBBA WATSON:¬† You know, the golf course, it's the best shape I've ever seen it.¬† I've played 27 holes now, nine yesterday, 18 today.¬† The greens are perfect.¬† The fairways are unbelievable.¬† The rough is still rough‑‑ everybody hates rough, but it's the best I've ever seen this golf course.¬† It's a beautiful place.¬† The challenge around here is trying to hit your drive halfway decent; miss the water, miss the bunkers and make putts.
So last year was rock hard because of a brand new golf course.  I happened to just survive it, make a few putts.  So I finished second.  Finished second here a few years ago, as well, before the changes.
So I look forward to it.  I look forward to the challenge.  When you come here, the challenge of the wind, the challenge of the golf course, the speed of the greens are really, really quick right now, and so you get here, you get excited about the challenge.  This is why we play the game of golf is to challenge ourselves and try to improve and get better in tough conditions.

Q.¬† This has been a pretty good barometer for you in terms of what you've ended up doing at Augusta.¬† Do you think this course is a good way of setting up for what the rest of the season and summer will be, and just your performance here‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  I think it's one of those things.  For some reason, I finish second place here and then I won, finish second place here, and then I won.  It's two different golf courses, two different style of golf courses.  You can't even compare them.
So it's just one of those things.  I don't know what caused it.  I don't know why it happened.  I don't know why I won, first of all, and then I don't know why I came in second here.
So no, I don't think it's a factor to me personally.  You know, media and all those things, they are going to run with stories.  But for me, no, I don't think about it.  It's just one of those weird things that it just happened that way.

Q.  Does it seem different this time in your run up to this Masters title defense, maybe calmer or a little easier to deal with all the attention, or how do you view it from three years ago?
BUBBA WATSON:  When you look at it the first time, the first time you win any tournament, but win the Masters, I don't know if you've ever won it, but first time you ever win it, it's very difficult to handle, because you go back, you're defending champ, media is all over you.  Champions Dinner, they don't give you any clue what goes on at Champions Dinner, you just show up.  And I had to ask; on Tuesday, I asked the locker room attendant, I said, "What time am I supposed to show up?  Nobody's told me a time."
"So they tell you a time, roughly, between this time."
I'm like, "What do you mean, "roughly?"  I just show up?"
So you think it's going to be more structured but it's not.  It's a different event.  And so I didn't know how to handle it.  Didn't know how to deal with it.  Didn't know what to expect.
You know, like I said, in 2013, I was in awe of it still.  I still am in awe of it but I didn't know how to deal with it.  I didn't know what was going on.
And in '14, this year, I wasn't defending champion anymore, so everybody could care less what I was doing.
I knew the time to show up, I knew the time to go to the dinner, I knew what to do at the dinner.  Again, I flew under the radar and so I won this year, or last year.
And this year, I already know how to deal with it, what to do, what not to do.  And so I've got my routine now of how to practice and what I need to practice and how to go about it.  I'm still going to be nervous.  It's the Masters; I'm still going to be excited because I'm defending champ.
But yeah, I know how to deal with it a little bit more.  Doesn't mean I'm going to play good.  Just means I know how to get through the Champions Dinner now.  Hope that answers your question.

Q.¬† But now that you do know what to do with the Champions Dinner, do you know what you'll do differently‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Yes, I knew what the menu before I even won.¬† I knew what the menu was going to be.¬† I knew the day after‑‑ I let them know and told them, and I told them the same thing, I'm not going to tell anybody until Wednesday morning when they find out, unless Nick Faldo Tweets it again right after he leaves the dinner.
So, yeah, I know what to do.  I know how the routine is now.  So, again, I just go in there, use my time wisely, use my energy wisely and hopefully at the end of the week I get a challenge on Sunday afternoon on the back nine.

Q.  We're still a ways out, but in your mind, who do you consider the favorite at this point?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, it's a tough one.  Anybody in the field, anybody in the field is a great golfer to get to the event.  There's no way to predict who is going to win, who is not going to win.  The only thing you can predict, if you're not in the field, you can't win, so there's my prediction.
We're all good golfers.  You know, anybody in that field is good enough to make it to that field.  Again, I don't know if you've ever played in the Masters, but it's a tough field to get into, and everybody has a chance to win.  I mean, we're all great golfers.  We've all earned our right to be at the Masters and we can all play at a high level at any given moment.

Q.  You are probably at a phase in your career now where your game is at its best.  You won at Masters, went to China and won in China and your form is good.  I think you've referenced this before, but you've mentioned the fact that your family life has had a huge impact of now being a father of two children.  How does this impact on your golf in terms of the way you handle events like coming up to the Masters?
BUBBA WATSON:  It's very true, becoming a parent, becoming a dad now for the second time, golf is golf.  It's a sport.  If I'm defined just as a golfer, that means off the golf course, I'm not a very fun person to be around.
And so for me, I want my kids to see me as their role model.  My dad was my role model.  I learned a lot from my dad and my mom.  They were my role models.  And so my attitude changed.  If you've noticed over the last six months, my attitude has changed; because of social media, because of commentary, I needed to change as a person.  I needed to change how I act, how I appear on TV, I guess you could say.
My son, my daughter is going to see that at some point, and so I've got to change who I am.  Who cares if I win every tournament or if I lose every tournament.  It's about who I am as a person; what do I want my kids to see.
And so for me, by doing that, by calming down, by changing my focus, taking my focus away from golf but putting my focus on my family, my wife, my kids, what the most important things are in my life, my golf has gotten better.¬† And maybe that's because I don't care as much or I'm not‑‑ when I say don't care as much, I'm saying I don't let the bad shots bother me as much, because I realize, it's just golf.
At the end of the day, my son, my wife, doesn't care what I shoot.  My daughter hopefully doesn't care what I shoot.  When she gets older, they are going to see me as dad and not as a golfer.
So yeah, it's obviously impacted me in the right way, so far.  Doesn't mean it's going to impact me forever that way.  At some point I'll retire and really dislike the game (laughing).

Q.  On that note, there's a little confusion on the time line.  Were you in China when your daughter was born, and when exactly did your daughter go home with you guys after that or with Angie, maybe before you even got home, and just how different is it having two kids now compared to one?
BUBBA WATSON:  She was born the week I was in Japan, the following week.  And so that's when she was born.  I was in Japan.  We knew about the schedule way in advance.  Scheduled these tournaments six months before.
So we knew it.  But then after we signed up for these tournaments, we knew that we wanted to start the adoption process, so we went into the adoption process.
Instead of me canceling out of these tournaments, because we knew this adoption was going to happen, so instead of canceling out of these tournaments, China and Japan, I stayed in them.  So we knew that this was going to happen.
So we had to just I guess suck it up and go do my job and knew that I was going to miss this child being born.¬† My wife was there at the hospital.¬† So she was there, and so that was‑‑ I guess that's the timeline you're asking about.

Q.  What would be the birthday then?
BUBBA WATSON:  That's a great question.

Q.  Did Angie just talk about her reaction to being there?  It was different than the first time; right?
BUBBA WATSON:  The first time we adopted him a week before.  I spent three days with him before I left to go to Augusta.  And the reason why I spent three days with him before I left to go to Augusta, I had to go to Arizona to do some adoption stuff.  And then I flew back to Florida to spend time with him, and then I went to Augusta.  So spent three days with him before I went to the Masters in '12, and so this one was different because I wasn't there.  This one, he was a month old when we adopted him.
Angie was at the hospital the day she was born.¬† It was a scheduled C‑section, and so Angie was there.¬† Angie, when I called Angie, she was leaving the‑‑ or when Angie called me after I won in China.¬† She was leaving the very next day to get there two days early before the C‑section.
So, yeah, it was different in that aspect, and it was funny, because Angie on the phone said, "Maybe we need to keep adopting because you keep winning these big events."  
It was cool, because when I won in 2012 at the Masters, I've talked about Caleb the whole time.  There's a lot of videos showing that we loved him, even though we adopted him.  Same thing with Dakota.  I won a big tournament right three or four days right before she was born.
So there's more things we can talk about her when she gets old enough and explain things to her, so it worked out good in our favor I guess you could say.

Q.  How different is it with two kids, as opposed to one?
BUBBA WATSON:  They are different ages right now.  It's easy with Dakota.  She's not doing anything.  But little man's three now, so he's running around screaming.  But yeah, it's really no different once you have two.  It's been a fun ride, but obviously I can tell the kids apart from a boy and a girl.  I mean, he's full on right now.  I'm not sleeping very much.  He wants to party all the time.  He keeps trying to take my toys and I'm not sharing with him (laughter).

Q.  The tee shot you hit on 13 in the final round last year at Augusta obviously got a lot of attention.  And two things:  First of all, wonder if you ever sort of are in awe of some of those things you do, and do you sense that you have an advantage around that place now, the fact that you've won there twice, you've played it a number of times, you've gotten to know the course and obviously your length is such a big factor.
BUBBA WATSON:  Yeah, I think what helped me in '14 was knowing that I've won it before, knowing that I could hit the shots.  I know what the pressure is like.  I know what the atmosphere is like and I know how much can change in the nine holes.
So that's what kept me going, even though Spieth was like 3‑under early in the final round.¬† So I knew how tough the back nine was going to be, and I knew the back of my mind, I birdied four holes before on the back nine in a row to tie for the lead in '12, so I knew that there was always that option if somehow I played at a high level.¬† So that helped me, obviously my experience around the golf course helped me, knowing that I've already won one.
If I hit my driver well, which we all say that, but if I hit my driver well, obviously it's a big advantage if I hit it long and somewhat straight.¬† And that shot on 13, I pushed it about ten yards, roughly 30, 40 feet.¬† It wasn't too far off‑line but I knew I hit it good.¬† The wind was coming from right‑to‑left downwind and helping the cut.
So as soon as I hit it, I was like, oh, man‑‑ we have to wait.¬† I have to wait to see what the crowd's reaction is, because we can't see it when it goes over the trees.¬† And when they cheered, obviously I knew it was going to be pretty good.¬† I didn't know it was going to be a sand wedge in there, but I knew it was going to be pretty good.

Q.  Did you hear it hit the tree?
BUBBA WATSON:  No.  All I did was put my head down just trying to listen, and all I heard was the crowd.

Q.¬† Was it your intention walking off 12, because Jordan had gone into the water on 12‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  I was hoping that he was going to make double and not make bogey like he did.

Q.¬† Was your intention to be quite that aggressive and had you tried to go over that intended line‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:¬† I had hit pitching wedge in there a few times.¬† And 12, I hit 9‑iron in there.¬† So it's, you know, what golfers call a push‑cut, where I was trying to cut it.¬† But again, if it would have ended up on the line I wanted to, it's ten yards over, 15 yards over roughly; and I just shoved it just a little bit.
Yeah, I was trying to go over the trees but obviously not that far over.¬† I was trying to be closer, more to the right I guess you would say.¬† So like a 9‑iron in there roughly.

Q.¬† What would be sort of the circumstance that would make you then this year, defending champion going back‑‑ do you need certain weather conditions to have that happen?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† So when I got to the tee, the wind was coming a little off my right shoulder, so it was coming from right‑to‑left and down.¬† So my caddie would give me‑‑ he would say it's like 50/50, so crossing and down; or he would say like 80/20, so 80 percent downwind and 20percent from the right.
So it's one of those favorable‑‑ the way I like to shape my ball, everything about it:¬† The hole goes that way; the wind was going that way.¬† It's kind of like in '12 when I hit the hook the wind was come from the left.¬† So when I hit the hook out of the trees, it was helping the hook.
I just shoved it just a little bit.  I don't know if it was nerves, just bad swing, whatever it was.  I shoved it just a little bit.  Obviously I caught enough of it.  Hit it pretty far.
It was one of those things where I was trying to be aggressive because I knew that birdie, if nobody else birdies, birdie just puts me that far ahead or I have to birdie to keep up.  So yeah, I was trying to be aggressive but obviously not that aggressive.

Q.  What shot do you get asked more about, the drive at 13 or the wedge from the woods, and which do you think is more impressive?
BUBBA WATSON:  I've been asked more about the wedge.  Obviously in the last year it's been about the drive.  Again, I've always said this, No.17 and 12, I sliced my drive into the crowd and it was like kind of a muddy, wet spot where the crowd has created this spot.
I had to pick my 52‑degree, my gap wedge, up over these trees with no lie, a bare lie, so it's tough to do.¬† That shot I feel was more important than the hook shot or the drive.¬† And that's the one that they don't talk about or show, but the gap was a lot tighter and a lot tougher, and Teddy, my caddie, he's still like, "That was unbelievable.¬† I don't know how you did it."
So that's the one in my heart and my mind, that's the one I always think about, but I always talk about the other ones because those were the one that is really did something to the crowd.
And I really didn't get many questions about 15 last year when I hit the low 6‑iron under the tree.

Q.¬† Are you ever amazed‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  Oh, that's right, he did ask that.  I don't know how to answer it the right way, but no.  (Laughter).
I mean, it's easy‑‑ putting it all together for 18 holes or for four rounds of a tournament, I can't win all the time, or I'm not going to win all the time but hitting some of the shots, there are certain shots when creativity is involved, the right situation, the right wind directions, the right feel; I feel like there's no shot I can't pull off.
Now, doesn't mean I'm going to pull it off every time.¬† You give me enough balls, I'll pull it enough.¬† You give me enough chances‑‑ but no, there's no shot that impresses me.
And Teddy, like if you talk to Teddy without me around, he's going to tell you.  He's like, "It doesn't impress me anymore."  He's like, "I've seen it all the time."  And he gets mad.

Q.  Given all those shots you just talked about, what's the best shot you've ever hit and why?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Best shot I ever hit, gosh, that's a good question.¬† Bay Hill, I don't know what year it was, we'll say five years ago, roughly, six years ago.¬† I pulled a tee shot and I tried to hammer this tee shot over the bunker, who knows why, it's like 340 to get over it.¬† So I pulled it into the trees.¬† I pulled it into the trees‑‑

Q.¬† What hole‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Sorry, 16.¬† I'm not sure if it was a par 4, par 5, they have changed it so many times, I think it was a par 5 still.¬† So I had a tough lie, kind of tall rough.¬† Leaves were everywhere so I didn't really mess with the leaves too much.¬† Had a tree in front of me.¬† Had roughly 202 to carry, 210 hole over that little creek, the water.¬† And I said, "I'm going to hit a low 6‑iron."
Teddy was like, "A 6‑iron?"
I was like, "Yeah, I'm going to hit it low.  I'm going to punch it."  I said, "It will fly that far."
He's like, "Why would you do that?"
I said, "I'm going to reach the green.  I can do this shot."
He's like, "All right, whatever."¬† And so he backs away.¬† And that was probably the best shot.¬† It probably got ten feet off the ground at the most.¬† Hit a low 6‑iron out of the thick rough, punched it, just kept it under the tree, hit it to about 15 feet, 2‑putted.¬† I don't really make putts, so I 2‑putted.
That was probably the best, just because of the lie, everything about it, and trying to keep it about ten feet off the ground the whole way.

Q.¬† You famously don't have an instructor, never have.¬† So you clearly have‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  They are expensive, that's why.  (Laughter).

Q.  When things are not going right, you clearly must just try to figure it out on your own.  Are you surprised more guys just don't do it that way, especially given the level of play and how good you guys are, that guys don't just try to figure it out on their own?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† I think at this level, though, I think it's‑‑ again, I don't know, because I've never talked to guys and I've never asked these questions.
I think it's just a confidence thing; a little bit of help, a little bit of people giving them touches, just touch‑ups.¬† It's not a fix‑the‑whole engine; it's just an oil change.¬† It's just somebody giving them confidence, let them see that they are doing the right things.
For me, though, it's not about ability.  It's never been about ability.  It's about my mind.  If I get my mind in the right place, there's not a shot I can't hit.  There's not a golf course that can beat me.  It's about being the right focus, the right energy revel.  It's all that wrapped into one for me.
And like I tell my wife and like I tell Teddy when we're playing golf, how do you‑‑ when you step on 18, or just say here.¬† You step on 18 here at this golf course, it's an impossible hole.¬† That tee shot, I think it's longer this year, the tee looked like it was farther back than it was before, which I have no clue why they did it.
But when you step on that hole, is the bad swing the ball that went in the water or the ball that's going to go in the trees, is the bad swing because of a swing, or is it because your mental issues; and all of mine are mental issues.
The reason why we miss a 4‑footer or 3‑footer is probably not because of the stroke.¬† When you're already at this level, you can stroke it pretty well.¬† It's about:¬† Are you so mad at the chip shot; are you mad at the first putt you hit; are you mad at something else; are you mad at the course designer on 18; it's what are you mad at.
So when you dig down deep at our level, is it really the physical game or is it more the mental.
So that's where for me personally, once I sign my scorecard, I'm done with it.  If I shoot 80, if I shoot over par, I'm done.  The next day is a new day, so I don't think about it anymore.  That's one of the good things that I have going for me is that I don't let bad rounds linger.
So it's all mental for me.  The physical part, I've got it.  We can all hit tee shots.  We can all hit iron shots.  We can all make putts.  It's about the mental focus, and that's where my game is going to improve and that's where it's improved over the last year and a half six months.

Q.  Do you practice much after a round?
BUBBA WATSON:  I try not to.  We're already out there for five hours.  You don't want to be out there longer.  That's another issue, though (laughter).
No, I don't, because if I play great, there's no reason to tinker with it and if you play bad, there's no reason to practice more bad.  I might hit some putts, if my speed was way off, I might hit a few shots.  If for some reason my body wasn't letting me cut the ball like I wanted to, I might go hit five or ten balls just to really slice them just to get my body going in that direction again.
So that would be the only time you would see me practice, because usually I'm just trying to save energy.  Five hours on a golf course it beats you up.
ALEX URBAN:  Thanks, Bubba.

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