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March 15, 2008

Bubba Watson


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Bubba, for joining us for a few minutes in the media center. We were just talking about how everybody is kind of finishing at 6-under today, and you're part of that crowd.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it was rough out there. You know, to shoot 2-under with this wind and everything and some of the nerves and pressure that I was feeling, I'm pleased with it. I'm happy to be there.
You know, Sean O'Hair went out and shot 7-under early this morning, and I guess he's at 6, too. And then Mr. Woods that we all know and care for a lot, he was like 3-under through five before I even teed off. I was like, man, there's some people shooting low numbers and we need to do something.
Seemed like the wind got tougher and it got hard, and at the same time I wanted to hold where I was. Just hard to get some birdies, but at the same time, made some key putts for par and turned out with a 68 and right there in the hunt tomorrow.

Q. You started out several shots back, and now you're tied for the lead. Even though you felt the tension coming in; satisfied with this day?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, satisfied. You know, I hit two bad putts on 15, and, well, one bad putt on 15. I ran it like 12 feet past the hole and made the come-backer for par to hang at 6-under.
And I hit it just in the rough on 16. I had to lay up. Chipped it to about 15 feet and made that one to hang at 6, and then played two solid holes after that to hang at six.
So, yeah, I'm pretty pleased with the finish.

Q. Does the tournament take a little different feel when Tiger is going up the leaderboard a little bit; energy; vibe?
BUBBA WATSON: The tournament is going to be one of the top tournaments if he's in the field no matter what; if he's playing bad, if he's playing good, but he's always playing good it seems like.
I'm 100-something in the world, so all the Top-100 in front of me makes it a good tournament.
And then to watch him, you knew he was going to come out and play good.
He probably doesn't want me to say it, but I sent him a text last night and said, "You'd better get off your butt and start doing something," and he did.

Q. That's exactly what Arnold told him this morning.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, exactly. And he told me, he said, "I'd better catch up." And luckily I hung on to it to stay tied with him.

Q. With so many guys clustered, six guys tied for first, do you have to have the attitude: "If somebody has to take this thing, it may as well be me?"
BUBBA WATSON: If the weather is like it is today -- I say that, but you're not going to go out and shoot a real low number, but Sean O'Hair obviously played early in the morning; and it might have been good, I don't know what the weather was. But it's not one you're going to go out and start having a birdie-fest.
But 4-under would be great probably tomorrow. 5-under would be really good. It's one of those, the golf course can come out and bite you if you're not 100% committed. And you know he's going to be committed, Tiger is going to be committed.
I don't know what Vijay is right now but he's going to be ready to go and if he doesn't have the lead or if he's not leading, he's going to come out firing because he wants to win because he was winning all -- seemed like every day. And Sean O'Hair is playing some great golf right now, so you know those three right there are going to come out firing.
With me, I've got to stay where I've been all week and try to get one.

Q. Removing yourself from being out there competing, if you were just hanging on your couch tomorrow watching it on TV, what would you expect out of Tiger?
BUBBA WATSON: Unbelievable. I guess yesterday, I watch GOLF CHANNEL, watch the coverage, and at 8:30 last night, a little plug there. So I was watching coverage and it just seemed like -- y'all saw it, too, obviously, but he kept hitting right and his tee shots were in the rough. He had birdie putts closer than me from the middle of the fairway. 13 is the one I'm thinking of where he hit the shot over the rock like six, seven feet and missed it. I'm hitting a wedge in there and can't get it 30 feet.
But, you know, no matter what he does, it's going to be incredible and it's going to be unbelievable. No matter if he's struggling, he finds a way just like today he found a way. He birdied No. 4 and No. 16, so really made two eagles today on those two holes. It's going to be fun tomorrow.

Q. As a player, all you guys are trying to do the same thing, and the fact that he can sometimes will it around --
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, if we could do that, we would tie him every week, but he seems to do it more than anybody. Right now we are watching one of greatest ever, and before long, I think y'all are going to start giving him his due and say he's the greatest ever.

Q. You have all those guys clustered up at 6-under, a bunch at 5-under, and those last three closing holes to spice it up; what do you think the last hour of coverage will be like tomorrow?

Q. Assuming Tiger doesn't shoot nothing and run away with it or something crazy.
BUBBA WATSON: I think it's going to be good. I think it's going to be a good battle coming down the stretch because everybody is going to feel the same feet. Tiger feels pressure, too, but his technique seems better than everybody else's. Coming out of that stretch, you have 16 where anybody can flare a drive in the deep rough and have to lay up. Today I got up-and-down twice after laying up on 16. I parred it every day, but I had to lay up twice and got up-and-down twice.
Then 17, they keep putting that pin over there behind the bunker. And tomorrow, we saw the dot again, so we're right behind the bunker, by like two feet.
And then 18, you know where that pin always is and it's always going to be staring you in the face. The last three holes, especially if it's windy, I don't know what the weather is going to be tomorrow, but I think it's going to be some great golf coming down the stretch. Hopefully I'm involved.

Q. What do you plan on sending Tiger in terms of a text tonight?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm not going to send him one. I want him to think I'm mad at him. I want to ask him what he's eating so I can eat that, too.

Q. You played a lot of practice rounds with him, what have you gleaned?
BUBBA WATSON: What have I what? I'm a redneck. (Laughter)

Q. What have you learned?
BUBBA WATSON: That he's good. I mine, you know, you're watching his demeanor, you're watching how he's so focused and how every golf shot, he's so demanding on himself and he wants nothing but perfect golf. So just hopefully that rubs off. You know, just to see him and bug him enough where he might tell me some insights or whatever.
You just learn so much by just watching somebody.

Q. Could you be a little more specific about what it is you've learned from Tiger?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I don't want to give out the secret. You know, his short game's really good and he works on it nonstop; that's what he wants to do and he wants to putt better than everybody else, and he works. And just looking outside the box, not me personally, but seeing him work on it so hard after he has so much, he wants to improve.
He thinks he can improve. If he won one tournament this year, he wants to win two next year; or if he won all but one tournament, next year he wants to win every tournament. So he is always looking to improve. He's never satisfied.
Now, that's just something -- it was a gift given to him, but everybody on TOUR looks at that and goes, man, if I could just do that. But it's easy to say that, hard to do it and he actually does it. Jack Nicklaus was one of the elite, Arnold Palmer was one of the elite. There's only so many elite players in the world in any sport.

Q. When you look at the streak, five in a row on the PGA TOUR, seven in a row overall, eight out of nine, do you think that people maybe don't fully grasp the depth of talent there is out here, how remarkable that is to do in this game?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I think the players do. The media might not grasp how -- like Stewart Cink. Stewart Cink is one of the greatest guys in the world, and for him to come down and not win last week, Sean came up and won; for Tiger to be playing his best and beat him; Stewart Cink has been playing unbelievable, but there's some media out there that says that he's too easy, too this. No; he's playing good golf and should be's beating him. Not if it's Tiger, Sean O'Hair, not if it's me, not if it's anybody; Stewart Cink has played some great golf.
You know, watching Tiger, watching Phil, watching Jack Nicklaus, second place, you don't want second place, but second place every week after a few weeks, that's pretty good. But now, don't get me wrong, he's still mad inside. He wanted to win, just like I want to win tomorrow no matter what place I get. If I don't win I'm going to be unhappy, but I'm still going to live my life.

Q. Tomorrow I assume that you'll probably be like a group in front of him or something, I don't know how it's going to shake out on the board. How do you just try to put him out of your mind behind and you try to play your game and see what happens?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, this golf course is tough, so that first tee shot I'm going to try to play my cut and hit the fairway. Didn't hit the fairway the first hole.
And then next hole is a tough par 3 and I can go down the list. There's 18 great holes down here and if there's any kind of wind, there's water on a few of those holes. It's going to be tough and no matter what the leaderboard looks like or if I'm making putts, the next hole is going to be tougher, and that's mind-set I'm trying to get in, trying to learn.
I've never had anybody helping me, but that's what I'm trying to learn all year. Looks like I'm struggling and haven't played that good all year, but really I'm just right there. Just over the hump, I'll real close, and hopefully tomorrow I can get over that hump.

Q. Do you scoreboard watch at all?
BUBBA WATSON: You've got to scoreboard watch. If you're not taking a peek at the scoreboard, you've got to know what you have to do. If you want to fire at the pin at 17, or play to the center of the green; or 16, we have to make par and still have a chance; we need to lay it up here, you have to scoreboard watch. If you don't -- everybody does, no matter what they tell you. (Laughter).
I'm not going to lie to anybody. I mean, everybody looks. Everybody knows what they are standing at.

Q. Do you think too many players in this scenario just succumb to Tiger in a way where maybe you have a chance, but next thing you know, he's just beating everybody?
BUBBA WATSON: You know, it's not really, again, I'm trying to say it the nicest way possible. The media, again, Tiger Woods is I think going to be the greatest ever. Tiger Woods is the best.
So when you stack up, if I'm 120th in the world, and I shoot even par tomorrow and lose coming, say, 15th; I didn't play bad because of Tiger. I didn't play bad because of Sean O'Hair -- or not bad. I didn't play as well as I wanted to because of me, because of what's going on in my head, my mental thoughts. Tiger just has better mental thoughts than anybody else on the planet right now.
So for Tiger to win, it's because he's been there, he's felt it, he understands. He understands his wedge is going to go ten yards farther. He understands, you know, that he's going to be there at the end. He's been there. He's felt it. He knows his heart rate at a certain time.
Me, I've never won, so I don't know. Today I was sick. I mean, I knew if I could hang on today, 16, 17, and 18, I had a shot tomorrow. But I haven't felt that as many times as he has.
And so for even somebody who is 4-under and gets to 5-under, shoots 5-under through their first nine holes, he has pressure that he has not felt before or as many times as Mr. Woods.
So for somebody not to win, for me not to win or 3-putt the last hole today or lose or whatever, whatever the situation, it's not because of one guy; it's because of me going through my head and the ghosts in my closet. That's just being closet.
Tiger Woods is a great player, but nobody is really fearful. They are fearful of the shot at hand, not who is standing next to him.

Q. Were you feeling nerves today?
BUBBA WATSON: I'm always nervous. I'm nervous on Thursday morning. But today was worse. 16 is a tough hole. 17 is a great hole. 18 is even greater, yes. But I made some key putts.
Yeah, I was nervous. I knew what's at stake. This is a great tournament, a great honor to have a chance to win this tournament, and for me to do that, I'm honored and can't wait for tomorrow. Be fighting tomorrow.

Q. You say everybody scoreboard watches, isn't that also saying you know what kind of shot you have to hit in comparison to who else is on the leaderboard, too? Isn't there a measure of pressure knowing that it is Tiger Woods up there, and not only do you have to make a shot because of where you are on the leaderboard, but because of where he's at?
BUBBA WATSON: If Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Bill Haas, Steve Marino; if anybody is up there on the leaderboard, it doesn't matter. I have to hit a quality golf shot, no matter who it is. The golf course is so demanding, any golf course is so demanding, it doesn't matter if it's woods. If anybody is ahead of you, that means you're losing. So you've got to birdie or hopefully they 3-putt.

Q. So Fred Funk has just as much pressure as Tiger Woods?
BUBBA WATSON: To win a golf tournament, you have pressure anywhere. Are you going to write a good story today? Well, you have the last say, but my comments could be really messed up in your story. That's the truth, though.
The golf tournament is going to be hard no matter who is in front of you. And if one person is in front of you, you're first loser; and if two people are in front of you, now you're really losing. And if you come in 43rd place you're going to be losing by a lot.
It's going to be tough if it's Tiger, Vijay, if it's Phil, me in front of somebody, it's tough because obviously that person is playing great that week or that day.

End of FastScripts…

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