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June 15, 2007

Bubba Watson


RAND JERRIS: We are now joined by Bubba Watson with a 1-over par rounds of 71 this afternoon, 141, plus one for the championship. Maybe you can start us off with some general comments about the playing conditions this afternoon and some thoughts about your round.
BUBBA WATSON: This afternoon was tough. You know, yesterday I played in the morning with a little bit softer conditions, not much, but I was able to score a little bit.
Today I knew it was going to be tough going out there. You know I've never got to see really how a U.S. Open -- this is my second one -- how tough it really can be. And today just starting off the first few holes, it was just rough. I couldn't get anything going. It was just hard to hit good shots with that wind coming across on some of those holes, it was all crosswinds and made the golf course even tougher.
You know, I didn't know what to expect really. I just went out there and knew it was going to be hard so I knew a couple over par wasn't going to be a bad round today.
RAND JERRIS: Can I ask you to go through your birdies and bogeys on your card, please.
BUBBA WATSON: The first hole, first hole was dead into the wind. I hit driver. Hit a little knock-down 8-iron in there to like 20 feet. Made the putt for birdie.
3, tried to hit 5-iron off the tee, leaked it out with the crosswind, leaked it out to the bunker and hit 7-iron just short of the green and made sure I made bogey there so I just 2-putted to the center of the green and 2-putted for bogey.
5, I hit 5-iron off the tee. I hit 9-iron, I think, to the back of the green. Went 40 feet and I 3-putted and 2-putted to about three feet and had a breaker and lipped it out.
No. 9, I hit driver today. I hooked it to the walk area where the spectators are. Hit sand wedge like ten feet short, in the lip of the bunker but in the grass, and I could only advance it to five feet and hit it to a couple of inches and tapped in.
Next, I plugged it in the bunker and hit it to like 30 feet and 2-putted for par.
14, I hit 6-iron off the tee, lob-wedge to about 12, 15 feet, made it for birdie.
16, I hit 7-iron, left it way out, hit it in the bunker pin-high, just wanted to make bogey. Chipped it to the other side of the green and two-putted for bogey.
17, I hit driver pin-high just off in the grass, chipped it to like two feet and tapped it in for birdie.

Q. Some players have said this week that this course does not put a premium on length. How has your length been an advantage these two days for you?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, I'm hitting 5- and 6-irons on some of the par-4s off the tee. That's a little bit easier to hit than somebody hitting a 3-iron or 2-iron or 3-wood or 5-wood.
The hole that everybody has been talking about, No. 8, I'm hitting 3-iron both days and not having a problem with it. So, I mean, you could say it's helping me a little bit. Just I can hit shorter clubs into some of these holes and maybe hit it a little bit higher to stop it. Just happy to hit 'em straight right now.

Q. Couple questions, as we are going through your card there's more than one occasion where you said you're putting to the middle of the green and taking bogey and getting out of there; is that hard for you?
BUBBA WATSON: It's hard for any golfer I would imagine in. For me, definitely. I saw No. 3 today -- 3 was the first one. 3, a lot of guys were hitting over that green so I knew it was running away pretty hard. I think Jeff Sluman struggled on that hole, I watched on coverage and he was on front of the green where I was and he tried to chip it and he chipped it down the slope. I told my caddie, and he had the same thought, I said, "Just try to hit the center of the green." Somehow if I hit it too hard and it runs down to the hole we can tap it in and make par but for the most part make bogey.
When my mind is not focused and I'm still pretty hot, I just went ahead and made sure to make bogey and don't make too many bad mistakes on one hole.

Q. Being your first U.S. Open playing in the last group tomorrow, what part of you is excited about that and what part is nervous?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm always nervous. No matter if it's a U.S. Open, the John Deere, the Memphis, it doesn't matter to me what tournament it is. I'm trying to get my first win and after that I'm going to try to get my second win. I'm going to be nervous no matter what. I was nervous Thursday, I was nervous in the practice rounds.
I'm excited because I play golf because I want to win. I want to show people I can play golf. U.S. Open is going to be bigger crowds and I'm going to be just as nervous and feel like throwing up the whole time. (Laughter).
It's going to be fun for me. Second group would probably be a little better because then it wouldn't be as big of a crowd maybe. (Laughter).

Q. You mentioned in the flash area how you hate waiting around all day to play in the afternoon. Can you imagine what the next couple of days will be like?
BUBBA WATSON: Again, it will be just a sick feeling. I'm like a little kid. I'm going to wake up early when I really want to wake up at 10:00. This morning I had my alarm set for 9:50, woke up at 8:00, turned on SportsCenter to see if golf was on but it wasn't on so I had to wait until 10:00 to watch it.
Tomorrow will be the same way. I can't find anything to do. I want to try to sleep now but I can't because I'm excited to play. It's the U.S. Open.

Q. When was the last tournament you won? Would it have been a mini-tour event? Do you remember the month or year? I know it's been a while. I don't mean to bring up a sore subject.
BUBBA WATSON: That's all right. I'm not very good. (Laughter).

Q. You've mentioned it before. Don't make me feel bad.
BUBBA WATSON: You know, on mini-tours, you know, I was comfortable. It's when I get comfortable is when I start playing a little better and each year I'll get more comfortable like this year I've played a lot better.
On mini-tours for a while there, even on the Nationwide Tour my first couple of years out there -- I won a couple, I played in the Hooters event and won. I've won a few mini-tour events like that. Nationwide I think I finished second a couple of times and never won.
It had to be four years ago, three years ago -- yeah, four years ago.

Q. How suited is your game to a U.S. Open or to this course? I mean, people project potential winners, they usually look at guys that hit the ball straight or good putters and you're known for how far you hit it. What other aspects of your game match up here?
BUBBA WATSON: The one thing, everybody keeps saying in the interviews, they say that if your game is off any bit; so if your game is on, anybody has a chance to win. Anybody that's playing good, all it has to take is that one week you play great, and you can win.
But out here, everybody is going to make mistakes, so I'm known as not being able to focus very well. So if I can stay focused and minimise my mistakes; I know I'm going to make many mistakes. But if everybody else is making mistakes now we're on an even playing field so the U.S. Open might be good for me. Because I'm going to make mistakes and somebody else is going to make mistakes.
This is something I look forward to because I really believe that I can play this kind of golf right here, you know, if I can just hit my irons straight, I can hit fairways; today I hit one more fairway than yesterday, so I was real focused today. (Laughter).

Q. In the zone.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I was in the zone.

Q. For those of us who have not been this, can you tell us what Baghdad, Florida is like and what course you grew up playing?
BUBBA WATSON: It's a little piece of heaven, that's what it is. (Laughter).
It's little. It's just, you know, my parents used to let me -- they trusted the area, you know, so I could walk to school when I was in elementary school. It felt like two miles when I was a kid, but now it's like a couple blocks. You know, you could go around, my parents never had locks on their doors. My dad wants to somebody to break into the house but nobody has ever broke in the house. My dad is like Tiger's dad, he's a special forces Green Beret, so he doesn't have locks on the doors, he wants somebody to come in. We never had locks on our doors, so I've never been afraid of anything.

Q. If you look at your 70-71, looks like you played the steadiest golf of anybody in the field; if you go through today's round is there a point where you thought, "Uh-oh, this golf course is coming to get me, I'm in a little bit of trouble here"?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, No. 12. I was saying earlier that -- I looked at Craig Kanada yesterday and he had four of the last six holes he birdied, so after 12, I think I was 3-over at that time. So I figured if I can just do two -- if I can get two birdies and play the other ones even, I can come back a little bit. That would put me at 1-over and somehow even with a bogey, I did that. I actually birdied the next two holes and parred. I birdied the par 3, 16, and birdied 17 and parred 18. I did my goal; just threw a bogey in there I didn't want.

Q. Is this a Cinderella story?
BUBBA WATSON: I wouldn't say that. You know, I haven't done anything yet. It's just Friday. I made the cut. If making the cut is a Cinderella story, yeah, I did that.
I'm just a guy trying to play golf. Jason Gore, he's a fan favorite, has that great smile; me, it looks like I'm mad all the time, because I'm just trying to stay focused walking to the tee.
He's walking and smiling, so I don't think I'm a Cinderella story yet. You can call it that if I win the trophy.

Q. Some people might say that being a small town guy, there's a risk of suddenly becoming wide-eyed in the final two days. Why will that not happen, do you think, being wide-eyed, realizing your a small town boy and here you are?
BUBBA WATSON: I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen.
I'm hopefully going to wake up in the morning and go from there. But I don't know what's going to happen. I might shoot 65-65 or 85-85. Hopefully my wife will still love me no matter what I do, so I'm not really looking at what score or what's going to happen or if anybody else is going to go crazy or if Tiger Woods is going to go crazy and beat Johnny Miller's score of 63. I don't know what's going to go on.

Q. You mentioned comfort level a minute ago; when did you start playing those pre-dawn practice rounds with Tiger and how many have you played and what's that done for you?
BUBBA WATSON: You know what, I don't know, I bug him enough I guess and he let's me play with him.
It's great. I believe he's the best player in the world. So I get to go play with him, I just watch his mannerisms and see how he goes through his practice and what he does. This week I asked him what does he write on his yardage book in every hole on the green. I just ask him a bunch of questions like a little dog chasing a ball dog. I'm just napping at his feet to see how he works and how he ticks. He let's me do that I guess and I've been lucky so far.

Q. How hard has it actually been to curb your instinct with the driver; to be hitting 6-irons off par 4 tees, has it been something you've had to work at or do you just see what's out in front of you?
BUBBA WATSON: Today jokingly on No. 14, it's 358, straight downwind, so I walk up to the tee after I made birdie and my caddie, Teddy, said, "Think I should hit driver, I can get there." He goes, "I know you can get there but this is what we're hitting."
(Laughter) He's got a little baby, so he's got to eat, too. (Laughter).
It's hard because it's more fun to me to hit the driver. When I'm home, that's all I hit no matter if the hole is long, short, it doesn't matter, that's all I'm hitting off tees. You look, not like a man when you're at your home course hitting iron off the tee.
Out here I'm trying to have fun with it and make it like I'm back home. So it's hard, but you know, when you see it's the U.S. Open you've got to hit these fairways. That rough, you start hurting yourself after a while, hitting in the rough.

Q. I want to go back to the focus for a second. Do you catch yourself getting out of focus a little bit on the course; is there anything that you do or your caddie does or anything he notices?
BUBBA WATSON: No, just when I start getting a little temper. He knows, you know.
Like today, starting to struggle on 3, hitting a 5-iron, I got down on myself because I hit a 5-iron off the tee and I couldn't hit the fairway with it. So I'm down there, I got lucky and made the par on the next hole, 4, because I hit the flagstick and it fell down. So I was getting hot and he could see that.
Then he calmed me down. He just talked to me and said, "Look, you're still in this. It's the U.S. Open and everybody is going to make a couple of mistakes so if you limit those you're going to do good."
"You don't know nothing. Whatever."
He knows my attitude. I told him, the short putt I missed on 5, I made bogey, I missed a 3-footer, 2-footer, I don't know how far it was and ran like six feet by and now I have a 6-footer for bogey that's breaking a little bit, and I made the putt. I walked off the green and he knew I was back focused because he said, "The best thing about that hole was I made the bogey putt. I didn't let it get away from me or flip out." I said, "I don't even remember it."
We talked about it later, he didn't want to remind me then. On the back nine he said, "Good thing you let that putt go away."
I said, "I forgot I missed it because I made the next one." He knew I was in it for the challenge and I was ready to play. Somehow it just clicked on me and I just did it today.

Q. Who is Bill Weir?
BUBBA WATSON: He was a Ping rep. I didn't know my grandparents, he was like my granddaddy, I met him when I was 12. He lived on the golf course I played on and grew up at.

Q. Tiger has marvelled in the past about how far you hit the ball. When you play those practice rounds with him, how far do you blast it past him and what's his reaction?
BUBBA WATSON: I blast by him every time. (Laughter) He always talks about his wins and I always talk about how far I hit it. (Laughter).
The man wants to hit it past everybody. Doesn't matter -- you can practice and win tournaments but you can't practice it and hit it farther, that's what I always tell him, but he doesn't listen very much. He always talks about majors and all that stuff. (Laughter).

Q. That nervous, or I think you called it a sick feeling that you get when the pressure ramps up; is that something that you can turn into a positive, or is that something that you're actually fighting?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm fighting it. You know, I'm going to ask Tiger that. I haven't asked Tiger that question.
I think he said one time in an interview that he gets nervous but he uses that because he knows the guy next to him is nervous, too. If you're not really nervous, you're not trying. I have to figure out a way to harness that and use it to my advantage.
Until I learn that, I'm going to be sick every day I guess.

Q. Is it true that you don't have a swing coach, never have; and also, you're not really that much into the whole fitness thing; can you talk about that?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, I've never had a coach. My dad shot in the 80s every once in awhile but never could really consistently shoot in the 80s and he's the one that taught me. He's right-handed so we used like a mirror.
He says I quit listening to him about age nine. You know how parents get sometimes. But like now he'll try to call me and tell me what I did wrong because he'll see it on TV and I'm like, "Yeah, whatever."
He was the only one that really told me anything when I started the game. He told me just to hit it as hard as I can when I was a junior and then we'll figure out the rest after that; try to hit it straighter after that. That's why I learned to hit far because I swung as hard as could and I had that long swing.
So, no, I've never had a coach. And fitness, I'm lazy. So I hit running. I hate just running for no reason, you know, and I hate lifting weights. But these last few months, this last year or so, some people have been putting a bug in my ear trying to get me to work out a little bit, just cardio. I don't have to lift weights because I don't want to change anything, I don't want to change my body shape. I just want to get some cardio so these tough U.S. Opens I can stay fit and focused. This week we're playing basketball, a lot of Horse and stuff, just stay out in the heat and get my legs -- just feel it, get tired every night, maybe trick myself into doing cardio I guess.

Q. I couldn't get an answer out of your wife, when you guys play something other than Horse, who wins?
BUBBA WATSON: Oh, she does. She's -- I have to go home to her later, so I've got to say that.
The first time we ever played, we played Around the World, three points and ten shots. The first time I ever met her, the first time we hung out, she made all ten in a row, do you want to play again; I said, I'll shoot first so I can get a shot in.
RAND JERRIS: Congratulations on your fine play. We wish you luck this weekend.

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