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June 28, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Bubba, thanks for making the time to come in today. I know you have some comments and thoughts you'd like to share about the Greenbrier area. For those in the room, the PGA TOUR is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross. Additionally, fans can make donations directly on the Pgatour.com website at Pgatour.com together. Before we get into questions I thought you could open with any comments.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, for sure. It's the first time I've been around true devastation that's impacted an area where I live. I've been through some hurricanes, but I've never seen something like this. My wife is still down there.
I'll be there Sunday night when we leave here. There's no cut, so I'll be here for sure Sunday.
So I'll get back down there and do my part, get my hands dirty, and try to help out in any way I can.
Me and my wife, we'll end up donating some money. We've guaranteed ourselves we're going to give $250,000 ourselves to local organizations, Neighbors Loving Neighbors, is something Jim Justice started a couple years ago, so we're going to give our money to that. The churches, we're reaching out because the churches are the community, and they know the families that are in need. My church in Pensacola, First Baptist of Pensacola, the little study group that we're with, a small group, reached out to us, so we're searching out 10 families that they can help. Just the destruction there was unbelievable.
My wife, I was just on the phone with her and she said there were some women that were going to have babies within the next month or so and Jim opened the hotel up to let them stay there and he's letting some other people stay there that have nothing. Again, it's like that organization, Neighbors Loving Neighbors. It's just a tragic thing. These are people that I see every day at the hotel, at the golf courses working, and now they have nothing. It's very devastating, but it grows a community together. White Sulphur Springs is where the Greenbrier is, so it's been wild. It's been wild, and just shows how blessed and lucky we are that stuff can be taken away that fast.
Q. So you were there when it happened, and I guess you lost power? Can you talk a little bit about that?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I got there after -- I waited -- I had to do some stuff in Connecticut for Travelers but got there Monday afternoon after the U.S. Open, and so Tuesday there was a tornado warning, thunderstorm and tornado warning. Wednesday there was a thunderstorm in the area, and then Thursday we went fishing. We left the house at 6:00 in the morning and went fishing, started raining on us, and we were like, wow, I don't want to fish and get wet at the same time. So we left. We had some breakfast, came back. It was still raining. Within a couple hours, I mean, it just -- they didn't say anything about it, it just said thunderstorms, right, and next thing you know, 6:00, power goes off, give or take 6:00, I'm not exactly sure, but around 6:00, and then Monday at 1:30, power came back on. My wife being the champion that she is, she said, get out of here so you can go play golf. I mean, we can't donate time, money and energy if you're not playing golf.
So I left late Saturday night, came up here, been in the hotel since. Just hearing from her, talking to the TOUR how we can help, talking to other players how we can help, and it's been amazing. I'm not even affected by it. I'm affected by my peers, people that I live by, people that I know that work in these communities, and it's amazing to see the support from PGA TOUR players that have played in that event, know how great those people are, know how great West Virginia is, know how great Jim Justice is to want to help. People are wanting to do things, so Angie is heading up that through the players. They're calling her. So it's been an amazing outpouring of help and support for this local community that I just happen to have a house at.
But it happened fast. I mean, it was just overwhelming, the stories and stuff. You don't even think anything of it, and then the next thing you know I looked out over my house and the golf course was flooded in front of me. I happened to be 500 to 600 feet above the golf courses, so it looks like nothing ever happened at my house.
Q. What was it like as you were driving around the community? Were streets gone?
BUBBA WATSON: It was -- there's stories that have been out there that people have seen. There was a house that caught on fire that broke away, and it's floating down the river, a burning house floating down a river, which doesn't seem right. You know, there was homes caught under a bridge. There was just all this stuff. Obviously there's numbers out there of the people that didn't make it. I was in Jim Justice's office the very next morning, maybe Friday morning, talking with him, asking how I could help.
I mean, lucky for me, I have two vehicles there that can make it through junk. I have a big ol' truck and I have a brand new Jeep that has been lifted. It's pretty powerful. So I took the Jeep out, went through all the mud and water and everything and made it to the hotel and drove around the different golf courses. There's four golf courses there, and just looked at the devastation, looked at some of the stuff.
For me to think about my kids and some of the peoples' stories that had to break a window and climb out because the water was up so high and drag their kids out of there, right, to save them, thinking about that, and then when the water subsided in some areas, you could see car seats and different things, just little kids' flip-flops, just sadness all over the place.
For me to be able to be blessed, and me and Angie could have just left at any moment. We're so lucky and so blessed. But we wanted to stay there, and as strong as my wife is -- kids don't even know what's going on. They don't know we don't have power. They don't understand what that means. My four-year old really doesn't understand, and my 19 month old really doesn't. But as strong as she is, her background of her strength, just she wanted to be there, and so she's doing as much as she can. Lucky again, like I said, my vehicles can do certain things, and every day they're filling them.
I think FEMA is there now so she's been filling up the truck with waters and food and taking them to different places where some people can't get to but my vehicles can get to them. The National Guard is there and everything. It's just stuff that we get blinded sometimes of how lucky we are. I get mad at a three-putt. So it just hit home, the way I want to live my life and try to live my life.
This is God giving me the advantage to help in different ways, and I just write a check and leave. We're there. She's shoveling dirt out of people's homes tomorrow, just trying to help a little bit if we can.
Q. Not to change such a sad topic, but looking at this week and looking ahead, your thoughts on the Bridgestone Invitational and coming back here to Akron?
BUBBA WATSON: Again, like I said, I mean, this is -- I've always said coming here, it's a tough test of golf. I think we're, give or take, a month earlier this year, so being here, the golf course is in perfect shape again. Finishing second last year gives me confidence knowing that I can play around here. It comes down to making putts. I remember last year coming down, I made a lot of key putts on the back nine to make some birdies, to save some pars, to give me that shot to have a chance to win. So I'm looking forward to it. We all look forward to this. If you're in this field you've played some solid golf over the last year, so to get in this field is a big honor and a thrill, and I'm looking to compete at a high level and hopefully again on Sunday I'm one of the names chasing or leading.
Q. How long have you lived or spent time at the Greenbrier?
BUBBA WATSON: Gosh, we were trying to figure it out. I don't know my first year playing, so I -- I'm going to make up a number and I'm going to say 2013. Is that about right? So what I did is -- I'm not sure. I'm not sure.
But anyway, what I was getting at is the first time I ever played the tournament, past champions told me how great it was. I was looking for a so-called vacation summer home, and they said you need to check out Greenbrier because then at the same time I could practice golf. I went there a week early, played the Greenbrier, and Monday morning I wrote a check for a lot after I played the tournament. I was there for two weeks, I looked at 80-some-odd lots, drove Angie around everywhere making her look at these lots, and then I built -- it took me about 10 months to build my house.
I think I've been there in the house, this might be my third summer in the house, so four years I've been there. It would have been four years.
Q. How much of the year do you spend there?
BUBBA WATSON: Just depending on -- this year was different because I moved in Pensacola. I moved back home in Pensacola. I do a lot of moving, which is not good. So we've been there, and we've planned on being there for the next three months, but then the golf course is wiped out and everything.
Last year was give or take four or five months, so yeah, so every year I try to stay there four or five months, give or take.
Q. How close were you to maybe not playing this week?
BUBBA WATSON: No, again, my voice, this is my voice. Instead of writing a check, play this week and talk to players because every player has come up to me because they know I'm there right now. They know I've Tweeted. They've saw my social media so every player is talking about how they can help, what they need. Players are not talking about writing checks, they're talking about buying stuff and sending it, so it's basically a check. Do they need 50 cases of water, do they need more clothes. The Bible study out here is asking me what kids, what organizations, what churches -- again, the churches have the community. The school is not in right now so we can't call the elementary school and ask. The churches in the communities there are going to know the families, the people that truly need. It's easy for an adult to go without things for a while, but it's not for a young kid because they just don't comprehend, you just don't need that right now. So we're trying to reach the families in the community and figure it out. So all these players, for me being here, being able to talk to you guys, y'all writing the great stories or the impactful stories to help that community and the players, me communicating with the players firsthand.
So playing this week was basically my fee this week, by making the cut here, I can help write the check. Like I said, we're going to give 250 grand. As soon as it happened, I asked Jim, how do we help. So we're getting information as we go and trying to help that way.
Q. Switching topics, I just want to confirm you're still on board for wanting to play the Olympics?
BUBBA WATSON: I talked to the TOUR yesterday. I am 100 percent in. There's ways I can get out. That's not making the team, that's one, that's the first. The U.S. Government or the Olympic association telling me I can't go. We're cancelling it or the U.S. Government says we don't need to travel there. That would be the only way I'm not going, or a bad car wreck.
Q. The four Americans in the projected Olympic field have been pretty much the same for the entire year. I wondered --
BUBBA WATSON: I hope they stay the same.
Q. Have you guys as a group had any discussions comparing notes in terms of possible hesitations or concerns about going down there?
BUBBA WATSON: A lot of people have hesitations, and again, so let me back up. The reason why it's different for me, I've had to adopt my two kids. We can't have kids. So that aspect is completely wiped away.
When it comes to security, I mean, I've seen the worst. I've grew up in what some people wouldn't say was a country club lifestyle, so I'm not worried about that. The PGA TOUR, the United States of America, the Olympic Association of the United States, they're going to make sure we're okay. We may or may not be having a meeting tomorrow for security purposes, but I've already told them I'm going to the meeting, but you're not going to change my mind one way or the other unless somebody comes to me and says you cannot go, that's the only way I'm not going.
But again, my situation in my life, my background of not being able to have kids, if I was the other way and I was planning on having more kids, I would not go. But I'm not. I'm in a situation where that's not happening. So my decision was a lot easier. My wife missed out on playing in the Olympic Canadian basketball team, made it, she was hurt. She couldn't go to the Olympics. And every day, I mean, she probably thinks about it. I get to go to the Olympics. No matter what I finish, I don't care if I finish dead last. At the end of the week or at the end of my career I get to say I played in the Olympics, and I'd be one up on Jack Nicklaus.
Q. Have you had discussions with Jordan and Rickie and Dustin at all?
BUBBA WATSON: I've had discussion with their managers. I've talked to Rickie. Me and him are great friends. I've talked to Jordan, and yes, I've talked to Dustin but not at great length. I've talked to managers at great lengths. Because again, look how young those guys are. Right now I don't think Rickie is planning on having a child for the next nine months or eight months or whatever their ruling is, whatever it is. I don't see Jordan doing that. Dustin is in a different situation. As we know, Jason Day is in a different situation.
So you know, it's just all situational, and for me, I'm not worried about the security part, either. I know I've got my manager that's going to be right by my side, so as long as I can outrun him, we're good. Trip him first.
Teddy is not going, my caddie. He's worried about certain things, and he's in a situation where he can still have kids. His two kids' birthdays are during that time, so it's a different situation there, and there's no advantage for him going. He doesn't get a medal, he doesn't get recognized as being in the Olympics, he's just a caddie, or a bag toter, I guess, at that event.
So my money man, Randall Wells is my caddie that week, so he had different things him and wife discussed, but he said, no, I get to caddie in the Olympics, I'm in. So it's all where you are in your life at that moment. I can see concerns for security and viruses.
Q. As far as the conversations you had had with officials or peers that helped kind of cement that you're 100 percent in --
BUBBA WATSON: Well, those didn't affect me at all.
Q. I'm saying what helped color your decision to be 100 percent in?
BUBBA WATSON: People aren't going to change my thinking. My thinking is already crazy enough. Zika or viruses are never my downfall. You know what I'm saying? I was never worried about that because Zika -- so far all we know about Zika is birth defects, so that's not affecting me, so if that's lucky -- I don't know if that's lucky or not, but it's not affecting me.
The only downfall I have about my decision is I'm going to miss opening ceremonies and I'm going to miss closing ceremonies, so that's not good. It's no fun. I've already bought my tickets from Monday to Saturday. I'm going to a different event every single night, and then golf gets in the way because I have to go play golf at some point.
But the peers, there's nobody that's going to affect me one way or the other. The only person that can affect me on this earth is my wife, and she told me to go, so there was no looking back. So I've just got to make the team now.
Q. Are you at all worried that the people who are leaving, what you said, for good reason, they're not going, might affect the future of golf in the Olympics?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I think if I'm the Olympic committee, I think you have to look at every situation differently. Again, it's situational. And I think you're going to have to sit back and go, it's a tough -- it's just a random, weird situation we're in, and it's the same thing as Greenbrier. Greenbrier had to close this event next week. That doesn't mean you should quit the event. That just means we had to close it for good reason. And I think the same thing, the Olympic committee has to look at this and go, look, it was a weird situation, so don't penalize golf because of a weird situation.
And again, I haven't heard, and there's other events, other teams qualifying as we speak, so you never know what other athletes are thinking from other sports, so they could be pulling out as soon as they qualify. I haven't heard anything, but the Olympics is other sports' grand finale. We get lucky, we get four majors a year every year that we get to be our grand finale. Like I said, the other question is just situational. So I think the Olympic committee will look at that. I think all golf organizations will keep putting that in their head that it wasn't because people didn't want to play, it was because of a weird situation.
Q. You get to represent your country twice this year, you've got the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.
BUBBA WATSON: If I make the team, yes.
Q. And three if we do the World Cup. Obviously you haven't played the Olympics yet, but in your mind how do the experiences of the Olympics and the Ryder Cup compare?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, they all compare just like these two flags sitting here, and the World Cup, don't forget that one. I'm pleading my way into the World Cup.
So anyway, they're all the same. I mean, you're representing your country. Playing this week, I'm representing my country. I'm representing my family. I'm representing the people that have helped me play the game of golf.
I mean, these are events we've always dreamed about playing in, and as a kid growing up, Olympics aside, because I've never dreamed about the Olympics. I've dreamed about Olympics in basketball, but I wasn't good enough in basketball, so that never worked out.
You know, playing the Ryder Cup, and again, I don't know what the Olympic feeling is going to be when I get there, but I'm pretty sure I can guess. Being able to, like I said, win, lose or draw, play in the Olympics, play in any Ryder Cup team, and I hope I'll make the team this year, and play in any World Cup event, I would love to represent the States, represent that flag.
My dad was in the military, got drafted for Vietnam. I support the military every way I can. I have great friends that are pilots in the military. The Blue Angels are from Pensacola that lost a great man to a crash a while back, a month or so ago.
So for me, the military lets me hit a white ball and chase it and hit a white ball again. Depending on who your sponsor is, it might be a yellow ball. So for me it's my one chance to be a part of the United States and have the flag around me and have me be somewhat associated with the United States flag. So it's my one chance to show support.
And again, like we were talking about earlier, West Virginia, they've adopted me as their hometown guy in the game of golf. Jerry West has a house right there at the Greenbrier. And I'm their golfer they've pulled around, so for me playing in these events in a tough time, maybe I can bring a smile to their face or just change their mindset of what's going on right now.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports