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September 22, 2015

Bubba Watson

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Bubba Watson to the interview room. Bubba, congrats on another great season up until this point as evidenced by your No. 5 ranking in the FedExCup standings. Just talk to us about your expectations going into the TOUR Championship, the playoff finale.

BUBBA WATSON: It's funny, my expectations here -- I've been beaten around this golf course a lot. This golf course always beats me. Very tricky for me with the rough, the kind of grass it is. I don't know what kind of grass it is, but it catches fliers all the time for my swing.

So, my expectations is performing at a high level here. I want to perform at a high level here and me and Teddy have looked at it and we're trying to figure out how we can attack this golf course the right way, and play more conservative.

So looking forward to the challenge. Each week we have different challenge at a golf course and this one has been challenging for me all the years that I made it here. I think I finished fifth here one time and so I'm looking to improve on that and figuring out how to play around this golf course.

My putting wasn't very good last week, so I need to work on that.

I need to figure out how to hit more fairways around this golf course so I don't catch all the fliers that I'm used to.

THE MODERATOR: Take some questions.

Q. This is the second year in a row you come in here controlling your own destiny inside the top-5. How does knowing that affect or impact your mindset going into the week?
BUBBA WATSON: It doesn't change anything. We knew starting the year, starting whenever we start the year now, we start the year what? In August? September?

We know that Atlanta is the big one. It doesn't matter where you're at. If you don't make it to Atlanta and you don't win Atlanta, then you're really not going to have that big trophy at the end of it.

The FedExCup is always about Atlanta. It's not about the other weeks. The other weeks are just to help you if you had a struggle throughout the year to get here.

But if you're playing at high level like Jordan, Jason, they knew they were making it here. So they knew the whole year -- to win the FedExCup this year wraps around this week. It doesn't change anything.

I know that even if I was 6th or 7th or 10th or 11th, I have to win to have a chance to lift the FedExCup trophy. So we knew that starting the year that this is the tournament that means the most.

Q. You know in other sports someone will achieve a barrier or break a barrier and all of a sudden a lot of people follow it. It's like it opens up the possibilities that it's doable.
When you are on a golf course and see someone shooting a really low score, let's say you think a 68 will be a good score and all of a sudden you see someone going much lower, does it have the same effect? Does it take away some mental barrier that a certain score isn't possible?

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it's funny, PGA Championship, I don't remember what it was in 2010, in 2010. I didn't look at stats or anything from 2010. But I went in the playoff at PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. I don't remember what our total was, but I definitely didn't see people getting to 20-under par, like this year, and multiple people trying to do that number.

So that one -- I went into that golf course thinking like you said, in the 60s was good or under par was good. And then there was guys basically saying, no 65 is good.

And so again, I didn't see that, because of my thinking. Obviously I took the wrong thinking or I give Majors too much credit. When I say credit I mean just that it's a Major, so you can't score that well on it.

But obviously the other guys took a different route than me and so I thought I played pretty good but I finished 21st. Jason Day decided that he -- that course was easy.

So, you're right, when you see that, you think, wow, I'm not thinking the right way or I'm not hitting the ball as well as I should be. But that week, me and Teddy looked at it -- we always look at every golf tournament after the fact and that's what we decided. PGA Championship, I just put too much emphasis on how tough the golf course was and I wasn't looking at making birdies. And Jason was obviously looking at birdies and not how tough the golf course was.

Q. When you come to a place where you don't have a great history, what kind of mental challenges is that to say -- to have confidence when you go out and to attack it like you can beat it?
BUBBA WATSON: The key for me is, when I look at a golf course that I haven't performed at a high level, I usually take it off, don't play there anymore. But this one you can't take off. So -- well you could I guess but you might be a you would look pretty bad.

So for me, it was -- I have to approach it differently. That's what we're trying to do. Over the last few years we're looking at golf tournaments and we're approaching them differently. So for me around here -- which is difficult for me because I think I can hit every shot. I think I can move the ball every direction. So when I'm in the rough, even though I can pull the shot off, can I pull it off at that moment?

So it's aiming more to the center of the greens. It's playing to the safer side. It's not trying to get too much out of a club, maybe down -- changing clubs to a softer club out of the rough so it doesn't jump as much. It's looking at all these things and figuring out how the best way that I can make pars on some shots.

Around this golf course, I haven't done that yet. I get so anxious and excited. We have looked at, maybe it's not going to change overnight, but I need to change my routine to certain golf courses and focus. Not just get in there and grab a club and hit it. Maybe going through some processes of elimination, going, okay, if I do this and it goes over the green or if I do this, I need to miss over here.

So those are things that we're looking at. Again, it might happen this week and it might not. If I don't make putts it doesn't matter. But that process takes awhile when I get to certain golf courses, golf courses that I don't like that I have to play.

I'm not very good around Sawgrass either, but we kind of got to play there. So, for me, I'm still trying to figure out how to play that golf course. Every year I have a shot to top-10 or have my best finish and then I struggle on the back nine on Sunday for the last two years and so my best finish is like 48th or 47th there.

So it's the same thing, same thing here. I'm trying to figure out -- here at least I've Top-30, so I got that going for me here.

But so that's where I'm at. I'm trying to figure that out. My mental process is where I'm trying to figure out and how do I control my thoughts and focus on the right shot at hand at that moment.

Q. This might be a bit of a bizarre one, but --
BUBBA WATSON: That's what I like.

Q. If you're there on Sunday and you've won the tournament by a stroke and Jason Day is second --
BUBBA WATSON: I'm not going to let him win.

Q. Is there any sort of any little bit of guilt to be like well this 10 million is like I got it, it's mine?
BUBBA WATSON: Because if it was the other way around, he's not going to have any guilt.

No, because we look at it -- listen, I've had my own opinions about the FedExCup to behind closed doors and everybody knows that is Jason Day and Jordan Spieth should be battling for Player of the Year. If you want to throw in other people, you can, but those are the two that I look at right off top of the hand.

And the FedExCup, yes, there's a way when you look at it mathematically, there's away for somebody to not play as good a year, all the way through and just play pretty good during the playoffs and they can win the pot, the 10 million. And Jason and Jordan not get it. And I could be that guy that spoils it for them.

But, yeah, so it looks funny on that way. When you look at the FedExCup that way, it's very difficult for me to understand that game of golf is about consistency all year and then it's a couple tournaments or one tournament changes all that. But I mean, it's 10 million so are you looking at the money or are you look at Player of the Year.

If you look at Player of the Year, I think it's a two-man race no matter what happens this week. I guess Rory could change that if he wants to win and tell everybody he's still the best. So it would be a three-man race, I guess you would say. Or if Rickie wants to win I guess it could be a four-man race for Player of the Year.

But the 10 million, that's up for grabs. Anybody can get hot at the right time. I don't think -- Billy Horschel will probably tell you he wasn't playing the best he wanted to play until the playoffs, which worked out pretty good for him, which we would all take.

But, yeah, so from Player of the Year standings, it really doesn't matter who wins unless it's one of those top guys winning. Then it might put them over the edge for Player of the Year. But from a money standpoint, yeah, it's a tough one.

Q. Would you vote for Jason or would you vote for Jordan. Let's assume Jason wins this week?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, if Jason wins this week, yeah, you would have to. I think you would have to. But I'm going to dislike him in a couple weeks when we go to the Presidents Cup.

Q. Do you expect the golf courses -- you're trying to acquire a taste for this place. You obviously love Augusta National, it's a big ballpark, and you've done very well at TPC River Highlands, real small. What is -- how do you explain that and yet you're still trying to figure this one out?
BUBBA WATSON: I've always had an issue with -- my wife was joking with me last night when we were talking about golf and the golf course. And my wife said, well, you haven't really liked Doral that much. Now Trump Doral, whatever it's called, the Blue Monster, you haven't liked that that much, but I finished pretty good there for the last few years.

So it's just about getting comfortable and getting used to a situation or a place. Around here it's just because of -- I've got a wedge, and I mean with a flier lie I could hit a wedge 190 no problem.

From the fairway, I could hit a wedge from a hundred yards so you're talking about a 90 yard gap. Trying to hit over bunker and stop it on a firm green. How do I do that? That's the key. That's the question. Do I hit it higher? Will that make it stop? Or would it be taking a 9-iron and taking a little bit off of it and trying to fly it that distance. That's always the guessing game. It's easy to see it after the fact, what I should do or if I should do something different. So I'm learning. It's a learning process.

I've played Hilton Head. I missed the cut there, shot 74, 74, I think. Haven't been back. Because I just -- the golf course is better than me. Small greens, meaning I can't move the ball. It's built for a straighter hitter. Those are the things that I look at. How am I going to perform my best. We're trying to figure it out.

This is a tournament I can't miss and I don't want to miss, I want to be here every year. I would rather struggle here than not be here. But that's the process of a golfer, is you're trying to figure, out you don't want to be really good at your home course, you want to be good at every golf course. So I'm trying to figure that out as I go and I haven't figured that out but once. I finished 5th one time. I am guessing that has to do with putting. I am guessing I putted pretty good that week.

Q. What are your thoughts on playing for the U.S. Olympic team?
BUBBA WATSON: I want to make the Olympic team. Oh, sorry.

Q. Why do you want to make the team? What do you think it will be like?
BUBBA WATSON: How would you not want to be an Olympic athlete? My wife has qualified for the Olympics for basketball, but been injured both times, so she never got to play.

We have probably some Olympians sitting in the audience right now. And so for me, it was, it, it -- why would you not want to do that? Why would you not want to be a part of that and represent your country?

The Olympics, everybody watches the Olympics, no matter what sport it is. I wish some of the other sports were on there so I could watch them. But I want to be a part of that. I want to represent my country and this is probably my only year to have that shot because of I'm getting older. Four years is a long year for me -- a long time for me to prepare later. So, this is a good shot for me to make it. It would be an honor and a thrill just to put the USA flag around me and represent our country.

Q. Do you have a favorite moment from watching the Olympics in the past?
BUBBA WATSON: Not really. I'm a sports and if -- so I just like every moment. I like the underdog story. Right off the top of my head, Usain Bolt, watching him run pretty good, because I don't run very fast, so it's pretty cool watching that.

So, again, we don't get to watch every sport on TV. All the sports in the Olympics, because they don't show them or I don't have the channels for them.

So watching him. It's pretty impressive watching a man run that fast.

Michael Johnson back in the day running. Especially putting on the special shoes he always had. That was pretty cool watching that. So I guess it's always runners I'm watching, because that's just something I can't do. No matter how much I practice, I'm not going to be a runner. That's why I play golf.

Q. Have you given any thought to what you would do with 10 million dollars? And if you're in contention on Sunday coming down the stretch, would that pop into your brain?
BUBBA WATSON: Obviously it is. Everybody's weak minded, so we think about things beforehand. Think about how we're going to give speeches and different things like that.

So yeah, some of those thoughts would creep in my head if I had a chance. What would I do with the money? You can always do hypotheticals and how you would spend it or what you would do. Did some interviews earlier today and the first thing I would do is make sure the college funds for the University of Georgia would be great for my two kids if they can get accepted to the University of Georgia. I would love to pay for their scholarships there or their tuition there.

And then the money could help, you know, we don't talk about it enough or I don't talk about it enough is I love giving money away, off course. So, military comes to mind. A bunch of charities, my churches that I attend. Different things like that. Obviously give it back to golf. So I would do some things like that. That's off the top of my head. Then obviously taxes would get a lot of it. Not Texas, taxes.


Q. Sunday marks the end of a pretty incredible PGA TOUR season. Not including your self, what's maybe the most memorable moment?
BUBBA WATSON: It was funny, Rickie keeps joking about it so I joke about it, being overrated. I think I was on that list too. I'm fine with it. You can call me overrated all you want. But seeing Rickie, I mean, and they say it's peers that are making up these polls and so, I don't know how you could say he was overrated he's done some great things. The record he set in the Majors the year before, pretty special. I know he didn't win, but to top-5, I wish I could top-5 in the Majors. I'm just trying to top-5 this week. But for him to do that in every Major and then to come out and win. We all learn at different levels. Different time periods. And obviously new swing coach, working on that, took a few years, and now he's performing at a high level.

So I think that's the story for me. Because I'm good friends with Rickie, I tried to help Rickie, I looked up to Rickie some of the things, even though I'm older, I looked up to some of the things how he goes about his life and how he treats people and everything. But then being there to help him, to encourage him when he gets down. But obviously there's multiple stories on the PGA TOUR. When you look at Jordan Spieth what he did, I'm glad, not, behind 18 green at Augusta, I told his whole family and his grandfather, I said, I'm so glad he waited a year to perform at a high level so I could win.


And then at the same time Jason Day, being friends, Dash is always spending time with Caleb. Our families are always together. So watching Jason Day perform with his background story pretty amazing. And his upbringing and to be where he is. Pretty special. So there's stories every where.

Missing the cut, Jordan missing a cut, but then becoming No. 1 in the world, I wish I could miss a cut and become No. 1 in the world so there's funny stories, there's good stories.

And then I jokingly say like I'm going to count the Solheim Cup victory as my own victory. So I got three losses in the Ryder Cup and one victory in the Solheim Cup. So there's story lines all over the place there's not just one to pick, but there's many of them that have been great and inspiring for the game of golf.

Q. Jason, a lot of talk -- sorry --
BUBBA WATSON: I'll take it.

Q. Bubba, a lot of talk about how Jason is performing this year. In particular the way he's driving the ball. As a guy who is known for that, what are you seeing in him that's maybe different or impressive this summer about the way he's driving the ball?
BUBBA WATSON: Well if you look, couple years ago, or a year ago, it seems like it's so long ago because a year goes all year now, but McIlroy, when he came out, swinging a hundred percent or looked like he was swinging a hundred percent, 110 percent, and hitting the ball so far, drawing it perfectly, dominating golf courses.

Then you see Jordan coming out -- everybody that's performing at a high level, their driving has been spectacular. Any time I won a golf tournament it's been my driving and my putting.

And then Jason, now he's swinging for the fences. He's hitting the ball so far. Rickie, I think they showed a stat on Rickie on 18 at Sawgrass, Rickie hitting it so far. You know he's drawing it, the wind is helping it, hitting firm, but still to hit it that far, everybody's got this confidence when they're swinging the driver.

And I don't swing at a hundred percent because I get nervous, so I start hitting bigger cuts and stuff trying to get it in play. No, but it's been impressive to watch. If you watch the last few guys that have been battling for No. 1 they have been swinging for the fences and hitting the fairways at a high level.

So it's pretty amazing to watch and you try to do that, you try to emulate that but seems like mine goes farther in the woods, so I haven't been able to get that groove that they have been getting.

And so, yeah, it's very impressive to watch that. When you see a guy hitting it that high, that straight, it's pretty amazing to watch. And you're wondering if it's just a streak, but it seems like he keeps backing it up, it's not just a streak, I mean, he's on all cylinders right now, his focus is in the right place, his life off the golf course is good, so it's, everything's working good.

Q. Jason's on an incredible run, you've had an unbelievable career, do you feel like you could get on that type of multi-month run and really real off wins?
BUBBA WATSON: I was, but Jason kept beating me. I kept coming in second. I was on a good run. I look at it as, yes, I can, just comes down to situations where I'm thinking -- my whole golf game is about thinking. And am I slowing myself down to think the right shot out.

Like I said, around this golf course, am I thinking the right shot, am I trying to attack a pin I shouldn't. Am I not just playing to the fatter part of the green or missing the green to the side. It's all about how am I attacking the golf course. And when I say attacking, it's playing safe sometimes, attacking that way.

So for me it's all about how am I thinking, how am I thinking over the putter. Am I focused on the wrong things. So, yeah, but if I can get that calmed down, just like Jason says, his mind is in the right spot. If I can do that, obviously I can play at a high level.

I'm pretty decent at the game sometimes. But like I said, the missed cuts in Majors don't mean anything to me, they're just missed cuts. I know that I wasn't playing bad.

We had a tough venue at Chambers Bay. The very next week after a missed cut I won. So obviously that shows I was playing decent.

Finished 13th I think at Greenbrier. Missed the cut at the British with a wind storm going through. Finished second behind Jason Day after a 30-footer, 40-footer, that he makes routinely, in Canada.

And then I finished second at Akron where he finished 12th by the way, make sure you put that. I beat him by 10 spots in that one. Because we joked about it. Because we hang out with our families all the time.

So I played great this summer, just haven't had the victories like he has. But again, not that my record competes with his, but I'm just saying. So I've had a good run, I've had a good year, but obviously to win is a totally different story. Top-10s are great but if you're not winning, you're not really doing what your goals are.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for you time, best of luck this week.

BUBBA WATSON: Thank you.

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