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August 9, 2011

Bubba Watson


KELLY ELBIN: The runner-up in the 2010 PGA Championship, Bubba Watson joining us at the 93rd PGA Championship here at Atlanta Athletic Club. This will be Bubba's fifth consecutive appearance in the PGA Championship.
I know you have not had a chance to play the golf course yet, but you've won twice on the PGA TOUR this year. Comments as you head into the final major of the season and where you are with your game right now.
BUBBA WATSON: It's been a good year. Last year I finished second at this tournament. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't seen the golf course yet. I've never been here. I've been on property for ten minutes now.
But I heard it's in great shape. My caddie walked it yesterday. Looking forward to it. My game is where I want it to be. I hit my irons really good last week. I just didn't make some putts. I didn't make the momentum putts to keep it going.
So I'm looking forward to it. It took me a while after my second win to get used to actually people wanting to talk to me and more fans, more media. So it was an area of my life I've never been before. So I'm coming down from that. I'm realizing what I need to do to get better and hopefully it's moving in the right direction.
KELLY ELBIN: Can you reflect on what it was like to not only be in the mix last year but almost get your first major championship and go it into a playoff?
BUBBA WATSON: It was great. At the time I think I was six back going into Sunday. And that golf course -- it was windy that day on Sunday. On that golf course I knew it was going to be tough to really catch the leader, but I knew if I could stay in there, I could get me a real good high finish, and it's a major championship, so you can scare the leader.
I just played solid. I shot 68, not sure what par was there but I shot 68 and forced a playoff. And then Martin Kaymer beat me in a playoff. But for me to do that, it was great. It was great for my confidence, especially a few weeks after a win, and just kept me going and kept me confident going into this year.
KELLY ELBIN: Par was 72 at Whistling Straits.

Q. When you say you've never been here before, is that ever, period?
BUBBA WATSON: Period. Been here for ten minutes.

Q. In previous experiences of going to a tournament never seeing a course, how have you fared, and is that usually how you want to approach a major or just your schedule didn't allow a visit?
BUBBA WATSON: What happened was I was in Europe for three weeks, three and a half weeks, and I flew straight to Akron from Germany. Last week was a great week for me mentally. I really was bearing down on all of the shots, just tired. So yesterday I just took the day off and I wanted to sleep as much as possible, just trying to get over the tiredness and so I just am going to play nine holes hopefully this afternoon and nine holes tomorrow, see the front nine and back nine.

Q. It seems a few players, maybe were a little put off by the reaction to the Steve Williams comments on Sunday. Were you surprised how that kind of blew up into a big story the last couple of days?
BUBBA WATSON: I made a bogey, bogey on the last two holes last week, so I could care less what Stevie and all them are talking about.
You know, it's just -- it's what it is. I said some comments earlier at France where people ran with them and said I said stuff; they said I said stuff about Tiger, which I love Tiger; I think he's the best player ever. Media just runs with stuff. And if they -- whatever he said, he said it was his best week. It might have been. It might have been his best week. We don't know.
He played with a guy -- he caddied for a guy who played awesome golf. He said the fans were cheering for him. He said his family was happy for him back home. So obviously it was a good week for him. He's trying to get over a downfall -- he caddied for a guy, won 63 times and got let go. You'd be upset with that, too. Maybe Adam pays more, I don't know. Whatever.

Q. You said the media runs with stuff. Nowadays, as a player, you can control some of your information. What's your goal when you use social media, Twitter? And then I'll have a follow-up.
BUBBA WATSON: My goal, to show how dumb I really am. (Laughter.)
I like to have fun. The thing; media probably doesn't talk about it that much, but golf is boring, as a whole. All we see is -- we see on television, we see the guys focusing. We see the guys bearing down, trying to win golf tournaments, trying to hit good shots.
I do it, too. I lose focus really quick. So on the golf course, I have to put my head down and not think about what's going on around me. I just have to putt my head down and go to the next hole. And so for social media, Twitter and all of these things, is to show the fun side, to show that we are fun and we do have fun and we do have a life.

Q. Who do you follow in the golf world?

Q. Twitter.
BUBBA WATSON: I follow all the golf pros that follow me. So like if --

Q. Who is the best? Who is the most entertaining?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, second best is probably like Rickie, Ian Poulter. First is me for sure. It's always about me, isn't it? (Laughing.)

Q. More seriously, with Tiger having struggled to win the last two years, how would you describe the current state of professional golf?
BUBBA WATSON: I would say, great.
Tiger dominated for so long, which he can come back -- he was injured, so he could easily come back and dominate again. But right now it's just showing you how good golf really is. You had a guy who dominated the sport. The other guys were not bad; he just dominated the sport.
Now it's letting the talent come out, and he could come back and dominate again and look like we are not very good between. With him being out, it just showed how good some of those players really are. We had the commercial out where "these guys are good," and the last guy in the field has a chance to win like the first guy in the field, and I think that's the thing that's showing right now. The state of the game is great, it's growing and younger people are playing better, and the old guys have to step their game up. I'm in the middle so I'm not really old or young yet, so that's good.

Q. What did you learn from last year's experience at the PGA, and more importantly, what did you learn from the two wins this year that you feel like can translate here this week?
BUBBA WATSON: I've learned that it's hard work; to win golf tournaments, to focus on the golf course, to do the things I want to do in my career, it's going to take a lot of sweat and tears and a lot of energy, and that's what I'm learning this year, and it was overwhelming at times. It feels like I'm sick. It feels like I don't want to get out of bed, because I've grinded so much. At New Orleans, I hit it in the water on No. 9, but for some reason, I was 3-down after that hole, but not one time did I pout, did I think about -- I thought about, I'm three back with nine holes to go. If every week I was three back with nine holes to go, that means I was playing pretty good all year.
And I somehow forced a playoff and won. So it just showed me how much hard work this is, really, to lift the trophy. It takes a lot out of you, and hopefully working out to get more energy to perform better each week.

Q. Going back to your Twitter, I was reading through some of yours, and when Bubba Smith passed away, you said something and mentioned that you were named for him. I wasn't sure if that was --
BUBBA WATSON: That was true.

Q. Can you talk about the background of that?
BUBBA WATSON: It was in 1978, Bubba Smith was playing football. So when I was born, I was real chubby in the face and my dad wanted a baseball player and I came out chubby in the face and looked like a big football player, and he said I'm a Bubba and not -- I'm a football player, not a baseball player. So ten seconds after I was born, he just called me Bubba, and Bubba Smith was coming through.
I know I missed "Police Academy," but it's the same Bubba Smith, yeah.

Q. I know you're not from here, but you led the 'Dogs to an SEC Championship a decade ago. Do you think you have a home course advantage? Thing you can some early momentum, let the yells of the "Go, Dawgs," propel you to momentum?
BUBBA WATSON: I guess. Yeah, you hear it everywhere. Yesterday I did a signing at the PGA Superstore in Roswell, so I was signing "Go, Dawgs" everywhere. No, it's good, it's good to be cheered for. I don't really care, wherever it is, as long as they are cheering for me. When they are cheering against you, you're not very happy. But it's good. It's good to be back. I've been to Athens for the Nationwide event, so it's good to be close to home. I know this area a little bit. I've never played the golf course, but I know the area pretty good.

Q. At The Open, you were the same outfit four days in a row, and you did that to really draw attention and awareness for Birdies for the Brave. And I don't think a lot of people understood why you were wearing those camouflage trousers and that military shirt. Hopefully some have understood that. What do you have in store for us this week?
BUBBA WATSON: Nothing in store this week. We got a bigger plan next year. We want to wear something pink. My goal is to wear something pink every major next year, and everything we sell is going to go to charity for breast cancer, because my dad had cancer, but breast cancer for my driver shaft and everything, and I'm trying to talk PING into building pink driver heads so we can sell them for charity.

Q. Talk to Robert Allenby, because he also wears pink on Sunday for his mom. That might draw a little bit more attention, and that's terrific.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, definitely.

Q. You know Rickie very well, you guys are close friends. The public is just getting to know him, but they see the orange on Sundays and they see the long hair, the different swing. What do you know about Rickie that maybe the public has not fully understood yet?
BUBBA WATSON: Not much, really. He's not that cool. (Laughter.)
One thing about Rickie, I've never heard him say anything bad about anybody, no matter what happens, he doesn't judge anybody. He just -- he's nice to everybody. He's just a great kid. I'm older than him but I look up to him in that way, just like Aaron Baddeley. I've never heard Aaron Baddeley say anything bad about anybody. He's got a great quality and he's got a quality with the way he plays golf; there's no fear. He brings the dirt bike to the golf course. He has no fear and he doesn't worry what you say, what the next guy says; he's going to play golf.

Q. Just where that's concerned, not worrying what people say, there's been a little whispering that Rickie needs to win. He's getting all this publicity and he's going to need to win to sort of validate the amount of publicity he's got. That's not something he can necessarily control. Have you talked to Rickie about that, the growing pressure to win?
BUBBA WATSON: No. That's golfers. We don't talk about golf. And me and him never talk about golf. I actually asked him last week, the only time I've ever talked to him about golf is last week, I asked him about the mental part of the game. I said, "Man, I'm weak mentally." And he told me what he thought about. He told me what he tries to do. And I listened to him and that's the only time we've ever talked about golf. I've never talked to him about, he needs to win or anything. He knows he needs to win. He wants to win.

Q. Did he tell you what the secret was or did he share something mentally that he tries to do?
BUBBA WATSON: He told me to quit being a baby and just play good golf and quit crying all the time and blaming other people, or blaming the wind or blaming that didn't do right, got a bad bounce. So he told me to suck it up and be a man.

Q. Pardon me if somebody asked you this earlier and I missed it. But it's the 20th anniversary of John Daly breaking through and winning his first major championship out of nowhere. What impression did that make on you as a young golfer, and did you grow out a mullet or buy a killer whale or any of that stuff?
BUBBA WATSON: What year was that?

Q. '91?
BUBBA WATSON: I have no idea what I was doing in '91. You know, I didn't really watch golf back then. I was just out in my yard hitting golf balls or at the golf course every day.
So I didn't see him actually win until highlights, the old classic highlights on the GOLF CHANNEL now. So wasn't a thing for me.

Q. So you never fashioned your swing, you kind of have a past-parallel swing --
BUBBA WATSON: The reason on mine, to hit a plastic golf ball, to hit it five feet farther, which is a long way with a plastic golf ball, as a 6- to 10-year-old kid, that's how I learned my golf swing, to swing harder, and how do you swing harder, you swing further, and you don't swing shorter by going short, and I did it and just happened to be John Daly was doing it and I didn't know it at the time.

Q. What do you make of the European -- the current domination that they are putting out in The Ryder Cup and the majors?
BUBBA WATSON: I think it's great. I think it's great for the game. But you know, it's sad that we keep putting these flags on everybody. I'm 15th in the World Ranking right now. There's 14 guys ahead of me. I could care less where they're from. I don't care what flag they have by them. There's 14 guys ahead of me, and I'm trying to get to No. 1 in the world. So who cares where they are from or what language they speak. The language they speak is they are beating me at golf.
At The Ryder Cup, yeah, you get upset when they beat and you. Hopefully in Chicago next year e beat them. But when it comes to individual golf, I could care less where they are from. Most of them have a house in the U.S., anyway. They are just better than us right now.

Q. I understanding that you have not played here, but from what you know about this course, how do you think it fits your game? I know they have lengthened the course 200 or 300 yards this year.
BUBBA WATSON: You know, it's funny, my caddie walked around yesterday and we talked about it. He said, it's great for hitting a lot of drivers. The rough is not that tall so don't have to worry about fliers, because of the kind of rough it is. He said 18, if I hit a good tee shot, and good for me, I'm still going to have 200 yards to the front of the green over water. So without seeing it, it already starts off at kind of a -- not a great hole. I mean, because I'm looking at the field. Take a look at the guy that's average distance. So say I hit one 315 or 320 and then the guy averages 280, I mean, if I've got 200 to the front, he's got, I don't know -- let's do the math real quick; 230, 240, which isn't going to be fun, over water.
I think just sometimes the golf courses were going the wrong way. Let's build tighter fairways and higher rough and shorten the golf courses so we are all hitting irons in there or whatever, you know. I'm still going to be missing into the rough anyway, so I don't care if it's narrow or wide open, I'm probably going to be hitting it in the rough.

Q. With your length, just what are some of your thoughts on the extremely long par 3s, like 260 yards today that Webb Simpson aced with a hybrid?
BUBBA WATSON: Again, I haven't seen the course. So I haven't played it.
But I know that there's water -- I talked to David Toms last week, and he said that he played the golf course, and he said that par 3 was really long -- isn't that the one he made the hole-in-one on? He said it was really long and he had to step back. I think he hit 5-wood the first time and he hit 3-wood the week before.
So I think with the water there, it gets silly. If it they make it like a major and make it with firm greens, how are you going to stop a 3-wood on the green, you know? I carry a 3-iron, so I will probably just hit a 3-iron and try and draw it in there because they say that it's open on the left side. I haven't seen it yet, though.
It's just they are getting too long. I mean, U.S. Open had, what, a 300-yard hole -- where was that at? Oakmont or something? We're the only people changing our fields. The football field is not changing. The basketball court is not changing. Just make tighter fairways and higher rough, you know. That's the way I see it. Make everybody have a chance.
KELLY ELBIN: Bubba Watson, thank you very much.

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