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September 26, 2018

Bubba Watson

Guyancourt, France

NEIL AHERN: Bubba, thank you for joining us. You played a big part behind the scenes in 2016 with that Team USA victory. How special is it to be back in that team room as a player.

BUBBA WATSON: It's very special. As a golfer, you want to make the team events and then when you realise how special the team events are, you want to be there no matter what. And so for me to be there for the guys, for the people that I appreciate, look up to, in 2016, it was a dream for me to be able to help take care of 12 guys, plus the four assistants and captain. It was a dream come true. It was an honour and a privilege.

But obviously, if you're going to ask anybody, you'd rather be playing than working, and so I'm glad to be back, and what a thrill and an honour to be part of it again, and knowing the trust that I got from 2016, they can still bump ideas and ask me questions, even though I am a player this time instead.

NEIL AHERN: You enjoy that first tee atmosphere more than most, almost 7,000 people are going to be out there Friday morning. How much are you looking forward to that?

BUBBA WATSON: I'm looking forward to it. It's amazing. I've been told that I can't get the crowd to rev up, though, because it's an iron off the tee (laughter). It's a lot easier when it's a driver off the tee, but this hole, this is a different golf course, different setup.

So this is going to be one that you're not -- I don't want to get revved up trying to hit a bullet off the tee and fat it 20 yards down the fairway, so I don't want to do that. They told me I can't do it this time.

Q. Is the glove because you've got some sort of sinus infection going?
BUBBA WATSON: Every time we have a team event, there's people that you've got to say so many words or you've got to do something, we'll say, dumb. So I said I've got to wear my glove the whole interviews. So I'm doing it (laughter).

I thought this might be dirty, so if I hold it (laughter).

Q. Was it for a bet?
BUBBA WATSON: No bet. Got to have something to do. Golf gets boring after awhile. Like Justin said, it's a long year, we're all tired. You can tell, my voice, I'm exhausted. A lot of us were kind of getting sick -- gosh, I don't want to say not quite half the field had something, and then you know, traveling all the way over here, we're all battling something.

Q. What did you learn while serving as an assistant captain that could maybe help you as a player?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, it's funny, I'm going to answer it differently at first. I learned that the team is a lot better without me as a player. I've never won one, but as a vice captain, we won. So I'm taking it that I helped win.

But as a player, you see what the captain needs. You know, when you're sitting in with five guys trying to pick a lineup, who are you going to pair, why are you going to pair them together, all these thoughts. You know, when I show up to an event and say, I only want to play with one guy, right, that limits the captain. Because if you only practise with one guy, with a certain ball or a certain attitude or a certain personality, it limits you.

Now, if you're like me, with a few meds in you right now trying to get healthy, it doesn't help the captain, right. Because if I say I don't have any energy, now that guy that I've been practising with is now like, well, who am I going to get paired with. So you're hurting the captain or the team that way.

So that's what I see the difference is; that you've got to give them a couple options of some guys that you really like to play with or some guys that you really don't want to play with just because of personality types or whatever it is, whatever that reason is.

Q. How has your week in France been as a cultural experience, and how do you reflect on your first time?
BUBBA WATSON: Gosh, I love it. This is a beautiful place. You know, first time I was ever here, my wife played professional basketball in the South of France. Love it. I've been here a few times because of Richard Mille, the watch company that I represent. I've been here a few times with him and his passion with cars and car collection.

Being here with the watch company and being around here, it's a beautiful place. I mean, it's high-fashion. It's Fashion Week. I don't look like I dress -- I wear t-shirts all the time, but I have some high fashion in my closet, I just don't ever bust it out.

Q. We had some highly publicized comments. How do you reflect on what was said then?
BUBBA WATSON: When was that? 2011? We'll say 2011. It was sad because none of it was true. Me and my team, my manager, my wife, my caddie and my trainer/therapist at the time, we went on Segway tour. It was funny, last night, we went and ate this little restaurant in the Palace grounds, and I remember falling off my Segway on a Segway tour. I went on a bike tour and a Segway tour, and I remember falling off my Segway right there, and I told the team, that's where I fell off the Segway and kind of made a fool of myself.

It was sad that people wrote or took my comments or whatever I did -- because I don't really remember, it's so long ago, but it was sad that they did that because I loved it. I've always loved it. I love traveling. I mean, that's why I have played around the world, I love traveling and I love cultures. Obviously Richard Mille respects me enough to sign me to wear his watches. He has a lot of love for me. He understands that sometimes the media takes it a different way than it was meant to be.

It was sad, but I learned from it. It made me mature as a person and understand that I've got to be more mature and more careful how I word things. Hopefully I worded all that right.

Q. Just a quick question. Please excuse my ignorance, but I didn't quite understand the significance of the glove. Are you wearing it as a forfeit?
BUBBA WATSON: A forfeit? Just being dumb with the team. It's like there's a certain guy, I'm not going to say who, had to say certain words in their interviews; who knows if they said them.

Q. What were the words?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't know. I was the glove guy, so I don't know. (Laughter).

Q. As I'm sure you know, it's 25 years since the U.S. won The Ryder Cup here in Europe. What does that say about the difficulty and the challenge of winning away from home, and what would it mean to you guys to finally break that drought?
BUBBA WATSON: Obviously, as we've seen our sports in the United States, you know, the home team in basketball or home team in baseball or football, always seems like they have the advantage, right, because the crowd, the facilities, all their stuff, right.

And Europe has an event here every year. So there's always an advantage of that, just being at home, or maybe not quite home, but it is home soil I guess you would say.

So yeah, for us to win it -- anytime to win it is a dream come true, and to win it, like you said, after 25 years, yeah, what a thrill.

For me, I've never won one as a player, so it would be a thrill of a lifetime here, there, doesn't matter where it is. It would just be a thrill of a lifetime, for that little trophy, that's all we're playing for. We're not playing for money or anything. We're playing for pride.

And obviously Phil, Tiger, these guys, they haven't won over here, I don't think ever, so it would be a dream to be a part of that. Their legendary careers, to be with them and be a part of that; I'm pretty sure Tiger and Phil would start crying if they did win. And I'll probably cry, too.

Q. What are you expecting from the home crowd this week, and is that something you've spoken about as a group, how to cope with the increased noise pressure of being away for a Ryder Cup?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, we haven't really spoke much about the crowd. The pressure is all we've really talked about. It's bigger than any event we've played, really, because of the pride. This is all about pride for us. This is not about getting a bigger check or anything like that. It's just about pride.

You know, the crowd over here has always been amazing. They understand tough shots. They understand a 30-footer sometimes from 200 yards is a great shot, and so they have been appreciative of us over time I've ever played in an event over here, and especially in a team event like this.

So I don't expect any different. They pull for their people. They pull for their team. But they applaud us and cheer us and appreciate great golf shots, because they understand the game so well.

Q. You can hear in your voice you're not very well.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you.

Q. Has it spread through the American locker room, and do you know if it's affected the European guys that were in the States last week?
BUBBA WATSON: It was just -- really, there was a few guys that aren't over here and guys that are over here. You know, it kind of started through the locker room last week -- there's only 30 guys. So just I happened to get it. I've got a weak immune system.

Q. Are there more members of the team here that are struggling?
BUBBA WATSON: I could care less about them. I'm trying to get me healthy.

Q. I'm trying to develop a story --
BUBBA WATSON: I know what you're trying to develop (laughter).

Q. What do you think about the golf course and how does it set up, you being one of the bombers? They have always said it's a good long-hitter's course.
BUBBA WATSON: I don't know who said that (laughter). It's one of those golf courses where you're going to have a lot of ball placement, so whatever that club is, it won't be driver. It will be a lot of irons, a lot of woods off the tees.

We are all going to place it in pretty much the same area and try to attack from there. It's the second shot is where you would try to attack and you would have a birdie opportunity. It's not going to be -- the way this rough is kind of mown toward you or cut toward you, you have to hit the fairways. So even if you're a long way away, but in the fairway, it's better off than being in the rough and way down there.

Both teams have a lot of irons and woods off the tee, hybrids, whatever you want to call it, off the tees, trying to get in position.

Q. Since you mentioned crying, you've been known to shed a tear or two, but Tiger's been known as a pretty stoic person?

Q. You know him as well as anyone. What was it like for you to see his display of emotion on Sunday on that 18th hole?
BUBBA WATSON: Oh, it was amazing to see. You know, he's worked hard. He's a legend, even if he never came back, he's a legend. Great for the game. Still grows the game. When he wasn't playing, we still talked about him, how much he was doing for the game. Knowing what he wanted to do, just for himself, it's not about any of us sitting here today. It's just for himself. Like he said, it's a miracle that he's able to play and play at a high level and with the speed and energy that he has.

I would have been more upset if he didn't show emotion, you know. I would have definitely texted him. I only get his number during team events. He blocks me during the regular part of the season because I send dumb texts.

It's always nice leading up to the event knowing that I'm on the team so I can get his number (laughter).

It shows how passionate he is about the game of golf and what the game of golf means to him. Like he said, even if he didn't win, it's been an amazing year, and then to top it off, you couldn't write a better story. You couldn't make a movie like that. It would be a fictional movie if you would have said he's going to come so close and the last one of the year, he's going to win. You'd be like, this movie's boring, but it's true. It's real life and that's really what happened. It's quite remarkable to see that, and I was glad to see the emotion, because it just showed the human side of him and how much he means -- the game means to him.

Q. On the spectrum of artist versus scientist, I would say you're more the artist. What do you make of Bryson DeChambeau and the more scientific approach to getting the ball around the golf course?
BUBBA WATSON: It's quite funny, I played with him today, and played with him in a different light. Today it's just shooting the breeze, practising a golf course, so I get to talk to him differently than in competition, right.

So we actually -- I know it's not going to sound right, but we actually go about it the same way. He's looking at something and looking at the numbers, trying to get the exact numbers, how to create a shot. He's very feel-oriented, it's just he's talking about the numbers and he's looking at the numbers.

I'm looking at the ground. I'm looking at obstacles in front of me and attacking it that way. But what he said and the questions I was asking him is -- makes 100 per cent right the things that we were discussing today, like putters and weight of putters and drivers.

His team, I was with him -- I hit a couple drives and they wanted to get the numbers off of Flight Scope, and so to get those numbers -- he confirmed some of my things that I've been doing for a long time, and it was pretty neat. Like the driver shaft. I've been using this driver shaft, True Temper makes it, BiMatrix, I think it came out in 2001 for the pros and 2002 for the public, and I've been using it since 2002. Never changed. Colour scheme has changed, but I've never changed the shaft itself.

He confirmed it on the Flight Scope, his system that he uses, and he said, "This shaft is perfect for you." I said, "Well, yeah, I won a couple tournaments with it."

But yeah, it was just he uses a lot bigger words than I would use. I shorten it up. Gets me in trouble sometimes with media.

It was interesting to see how he goes and attacks it and the way I attack it. It gets to the same point. It's just he uses a lot bigger words than me, but it's pretty impressive to listen and understand it, because I couldn't tell you the definitions of any of these words he was using. So I tell it to do it to my level, and then we work it out. But it's pretty remarkable to see how he goes about it.

But he's a feel player. He just feels the numbers and I feel to a look.

NEIL AHERN: Bubba, thank you very much. Have a great week.

BUBBA WATSON: Jordan Spieth, everyone. Jordan Spieth (entering room).

JORDAN SPIETH: You might use short words, but you use a lot of them. (Laughter).

NEIL AHERN: Jordan, thank you for joining us. Thank you, Bubba.

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