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March 6, 2013

Bubba Watson


JOHN BUSH:  We'd like to welcome Bubba Watson into the interview room here at the World Golf Championships ‑ Cadillac Championship.  First of all, let's look back at last year, I know it was a disappointing final round for you but just tell us what you took away from the finish here last year.
BUBBA WATSON:  First thing I took away last year was I played terrible the first nine holes ask then I finished strong on the back nine, made a few birdies to get back.  Had a chance to tie for the lead on the last hole.  So I took that I can compete and I can, on tough days, I can still challenge and still make some birdies down the stretch.
So I had the worst nine holes and then I had a good nine holes to finish issues, so I took away that even on a bad day I can muster up some good golf coming down the stretch.
JOHN BUSH:  Coming off a ninth place finish at the Accenture Match Play Championship, recap the year as a whole.
BUBBA WATSON:  The first couple tournaments so far this year, I had strep throat.  Got strep throat virus in Maui, somehow finished tied for fourth there.  Then Torrey Pines which I've played well at, looking forward to it, got the flu and so I had to withdraw from that tournament.  I played the Pro‑Am, though, so I guess I did good, played the Pro‑Am but I withdrew there.  So I was looking forward to that.
Through the year, I've lost some weight.  Lost energy, lost a lot of things, a few sicknesses and trying to get the weight back and trying to get the little bit of muscle that I had back.  So I'm feeling better.  I hit the ball better at the Match Play, still lost but I played well, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the year now hopefully.

Q.  I wanted you to talk about the shot into 18 last year on the 72nd hole, the degree of difficulty for that for you, I know you just kind of see it and hit it, but just want to compare it maybe to the shot you hit at the Masters?
BUBBA WATSON:  The one that won the Masters was shorter so it was easier.  The shot on 18, I hit it in the rough.  That hole was into the wind‑‑ that hole is almost ridiculous trying to hit that fairway, so if you notice, 90 percent of the pros hit it in the rough, the right rough, especially into the wind.
So I had this little kind of, not really a thick lie, but the rough was there.  It was a hazard.  But wasn't so thick, I could get my club on it.  I had 4‑iron.  I don't remember the distance really, just over 200 yards, 210 yards maybe, back into the breeze.  Grabbed a 4‑iron, just a low 4‑iron with a little cut and somehow I pulled it off and went to about ten, maybe 12 feet and then the putt broke not the way we thought but I hit a good putt. 
The shot was one of my better shots, especially under that kind of pressure.  It was well executed.  Talking to Rosey afterwards, he said he thought he won on 18 until he realized, wait, Bubba could actually birdie this hole and then hit an unbelievable shot, and so he started hitting range balls and I missed the putt.

Q.  Was there ever any fear when you attempt a shot like that or play a shot like that?
BUBBA WATSON:  You know, it's funny, the reaction from Augusta, the shot here; when an athlete gets in the zone, call myself an athlete, when an athlete gets in the zone, you're so focused, you're so hyper‑focused on the shot at the end or the goal at the end.
And so you don't think about anything‑‑ and I'm not playing for second place, I'm not playing for third place.  I'm playing to try to win.  I wanted to knock Rose off his pedestal, he was about to win a golf tournament and I pull a shot off and I had to make a putt.  Pulled the shot off but missed the putt.
So you're not thinking about water, not thinking about bunkers.  Just trying to get back to the hole and that's what I did.  You just think about pulling the shot off.  You're not thinking about result, the people, the media, the people watching TV.  You're just thinking about that shot at the end.

Q.  As a Masters Champion, what has been the biggest change for you off the golf course, and are you comfortable with all of the attention that goes with being a Masters Champion?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, Angie and Caleb are watching right now.  Hi, Angie and Caleb, love you guys.
I adopted our boy right before the Masters, and so the changes, let's just talk about the real life.  The Masters win was big but it's not the biggest thing in my life.  My wife, my child; the adoption of our son is the most important thing that happened last year and I just happened to putt on a green jacket as well.
But easily adoption was the best thing that happened to us.  So for me, it was an overwhelming year, winning the Masters, it changes my life a lot but adopting changes a lot more for the better.  And so you know, spending time with him, watching him learn things, watching him crawl around, pick up toys.  He loves a ball right now; he's been throwing a ball a little bit.  Taught him how to give a high‑five, taught him how to clap.
When it comes that, that's the most important stuff and golf just let's me pay for the diapers.

Q.  Do you think the course needs to be more difficult and what changes would you like to see on this course?
BUBBA WATSON:  If you want to grow the tournament, I could see where you want to change the golf course a little bit, maybe put more room out there for spectators, maybe doing stuff like that.  I.
Think 18 could be a little bit better, because most of the time it's into the wind.  I wish there was a way you could fix 18 and add yardage but it's into the wind so that makes that hole really, really difficult.
But yeah, if they want to change the course, I think they just need to make sure they do it in the right way, the right manner.  It's fine changing the golf course.  It's going to be a better change.
It's rare to see a golf course do something and change it for the better but obviously Mr.Trump, he's going to put some money behind it and he's going to make it the best he can possibly make it.  He loves the game of golf, so I don't see any reason why he wouldn't take all the effort to make it the best golf course we play. 

Q.  Sequels have a 50/50 success rate; the video has gone viral, how much fun was that for you to make?
BUBBA WATSON:  It was a blast, and the reason why I think it's so fun for us is because, like I said, millions of times, golf is boring, and for us, we are trying to show a different light of the game of golf and this is a different age in golf.
This is not your country club golf.  We are trying to grow the game, and I think that this is the way that we are doing it, the way we feel like we can do it.  Raised a few dollars for charity, as well.  Showing the younger people and older generations, as well, that we are here to have fun and let's enjoy the game of golf and try to make it a little bit faster and fun.
That's why we did it.  We do it for just showing a different light of us, because on the golf course, we are all stiffs, and the camera‑‑ because we are so focused on what we are doing, we don't have time to joke around with the crowd and do things like that.
So for us, it's a chance to joke around and show our fun side.  Ben is not really that funny but we're trying.

Q.  Because you've been sick so much earlier in the year‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  Thank you.

Q.  ‑‑ is there a sense in your mind or whatever that maybe you're a little bit behind where you want to be for your title defense at Augusta?
BUBBA WATSON:  For sure.  I started out the year, finished Top‑10 I think at Tiger's event at the end of the year.  And then I finished second in Thailand behind Schwartzel who seems like dominated the end of the year last year.  Then I went to Maui playing really well, even as sick as I was, fever, not eating for a couple of days, I still finished fourth because I was playing well.
Then got sick again, lost some more weight, so my golf swing changed.  I was getting lazy and my swing was coming inside, I was coming over the top and I was doing all these crazy things where I was hitting shots I'm not used to hitting, like way off the planet.
So for me I'm trying to get back, I try to eat different, try to gain some weight, try to get in the gym a little bit, just try to get my energy level back and my weight back so I can hit the normal shots I normally hit.  It was funny, I missed the cut at L.A., which L.A., everybody plays bad once in awhile there, that's a tough golf course.  So missed the cut.
Then I started hitting the ball a lot farther at Match Play, started hitting some longer shots that I'm used to seeing, distances that I'm used to seeing.  Had a good week off.  Looking forward to after‑‑ well, weekend off.  I lost, played a couple days, had a week off and then flew over here.
So I was hitting the ball pretty good the last couple days here and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and especially Augusta.

Q.  What is your schedule from now until Augusta, and has it changed at all from what it intended to be earlier in the year?
BUBBA WATSON:  No, it has not changed.  Schedule is the same.  I'm playing this week, I should play all four days this week, and then we'll play Bay Hill, and then Tavistock Cup and then I'm going to take my manager and I call him money man, my friend that does my taxes, we are going to go to Augusta for a few days.  They have been so helpful in my life, get to go where I am today, my manager, and then my friend Randall Wells, I'm going to take them to Augusta, because they have meant so much to me.  I'm not going there to practice, I'm going there for them and let them enjoy this beautiful place.

Q.  I was going to ask you something else but let me follow‑up on that first, because we talked about not going back.  This is your first trip back.  Why have you waited until now?
BUBBA WATSON:  I normally don't go.  Because let's just say I went this week, I'm trying to win this tournament.  Let's just say I went the week before Bay Hill, I'm trying to practice for Bay Hill.  I have other tournaments I'm trying to win, so for me that's the way I've always done it.  Not that I don't want to play Augusta.  If you're defending champ or not, you can go.  So it's not really about not wanting to go.

Q.  So we talked about the 4‑iron that you cut off the bunker here, what was your aim point on the shot at Augusta, and say you had‑‑ you go back there this year, you have 25 balls, how many of those do you think you can hit to that aim point and still have it end up where it ended up?
BUBBA WATSON:  Let's just answer that one first.  I think I'm really good.  So probably 24 of them.
The shot, it was one of those where the adrenaline was right, everything was right.  I picked the right club, the lie was good.  So I pulled that shot off in the competition.  To get it that close, I was never expecting to get it close.  I was expecting to get it on the green.  It did the spin and rolls up there 12 feet, 15 feet, whatever it is.  So to get that close, I wasn't expecting that.
My aim point, there's that bunker in the middle of the fairway, sand trap, whatever you want to call it, I aimed at the left side of it and then hooked it as much as I could.

Q.  Did you need a yardage?
BUBBA WATSON:  Yeah, he gave me the front yardage.  That's what I was really concerned about.  He told me front yardage like 130‑something and I think 160‑something to the pin.
So all we thought about, that's why I went with the 52‑degree.  Normally to the pin it would be a wedge from that kind of shot, but with the adrenaline, with the pressure, we went one club less and we were just trying to get on the front, land it on the front and roll it to the center of the green.

Q.  With ten years since Mike Weir won the Masters, as a fellow left‑hander, you have a little connection to Canada.  Can you tell us about that and where you were watching it?
BUBBA WATSON:  I thought it was great.  When my relatives, now my relatives, they are going to pull for anybody from Canada.  They thought it was the greatest thing in the world; a Canadian, left‑hander, my father‑in‑law is left‑handed.  So obviously Bubba Watson is now his favorite, but at the time Mike Weir was his favorite.
So actually I was dating her at the time, so yeah, their family was very pumped about it, watching it and everything.  But yeah, just watching him, seeing a lefty win, I think that was before Phil won.
So seeing a lefty win when I was really watching the Masters, when I just turned pro, about to turn pro, yeah, it was a good deal for me knowing that a lefty won, so I guess it could be done.  And then Phil did a it a few times and let me know about it a few times.

Q.  Following up on your second shot on 10 in the playoff, you had a year to reflect on it and everyone calls it unanimously the shot of 2012?
BUBBA WATSON:  Except SportsCenter, they didn't want to say it was the best shot.  Not that I'm mad about it, SportsCenter, ESPN.

Q.  Now that you've had a lot of time to think about it, do you see it as a work of art, a painting?  Is it something greater than any other shot you've hit and do you hold it to a higher regard?
BUBBA WATSON:  No, I don't hold it to a higher regard.  I see it as just a shot that I needed to pull off.  There were shots I hit earlier in the week, a shot I hit earlier in the day that was better than that, I believe, and my caddie will tell you the same thing, it was better.

Q.  Which shot?
BUBBA WATSON:  The shot at 17 during regulation, it was about as hard as this table where the Patrons walk, kind of muddy, hard pin, had to hit it over the trees and hit it dead straight.  Same club, same 52‑degree.  I sliced my drive, just tied for the lead, sliced my drive and pulled that shot straight up over these trees and it's on ground that doesn't give, so trying to pick a ball off that and hit it that high and that far is almost impossible.
So when you look at it that way‑‑ the shot, because of the situation, if I was playing‑‑ if it was me and you playing, the shot is not that big a deal.  You're like, well, Bubba has hit balls out of the woods before, he's used to those situations.  But because of where it was, the moment, the history behind the game, the history at that course, the green jacket, a guy named Bubba to putt on the green jacket from Bagdad, Florida; for my family it was a really big deal but for the shot, it wasn't what I considered my best.
At the moment, yes, it was the best because of the situation.  If I was just playing my buddies, they are like, whatever.  But because of the situation, yeah, I put the green jacket on after, so yeah, I made it a big deal.

Q.  You are not a technical player but technically, we have spoken to a scientist who explains, that has this technology to say that what you have done is very hard to do.  Why is it easy for you and hard for so many other pros to hook 40 yards a wedge?
BUBBA WATSON:  Because my nickname is 'Freak Show,' because I can hit shots that people don't hit.  It's just one of those things, you can't explain it.  There's things that happen all the time that you can't explain.  Who knows why it happens.
You can have the most educated man in the world, and he can put a hypothesis on it but it doesn't make sense, you know.  It's just an educated guess, but for me, it's just something I do.  I'm used to the woods.  I've hit in the woods before growing up in Bagdad where there's tree lines, dirt, everything, so you have me, Boo and Heath hitting every kind of shot imaginable, so I just happened to hit another good shot.

Q.  You mentioned trying to appeal to younger people and older people, wondering how your peers on TOUR, Stuart Appleby and Kevin Na felt‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  The only people I've talked to about it was Aaron Baddeley.  He loved it.  I haven't asked anybody else about it.  Haven't seen anybody ask them.  Even though Jason Day beat me in Match Play, didn't want to ask him right when he beat me.  We didn't release it yet so we didn't want anybody to know about it, but I told Aaron a few months ago that we used his name, because he wouldn't tell anybody.  He thought it was good.  He thought it was funny.

Q.  You joked earlier about being an athlete.  Do you consider yourself an athlete?  And what type of workout regimen do you do?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, yeah, I consider myself an athlete.  I train.  I prepare.  I practice.  And we have seen other athletes, so‑called athletes from other sports try to play our sport and they don't do very well at it.  It's funny, reaction sport, you don't have time to think, you just react to it.
Golf is the most mentally challenging sport out there because it just sits there and it's like there's trouble everywhere, so, yeah, I believe for sure we are all athletes.  Everybody has different body shapes, there are football players that are pretty big and muscular, and we have all have different shapes.
And the second part was, what did you say?

Q.  What type of workout regimen?
BUBBA WATSON:  My workout routine, I'm getting stronger but not showing.  I'm not trying to be a muscle‑bound guy.  Just trying to get a little stronger for my golf swing.  But it's all functional movement stuff, all body weight stuff.  The functional movement is because it's every day life and we are trying to protect from injuries.
So you work on certain areas, certain muscles so that it protects your knees, your elbows, your shoulders.  Your core, once your core gets a little bit stronger that's going to help everything else.  During my golf swing I twist and turn a lot pretty rapidly, pretty violently, so it's all about functional movements to make sure that‑‑ try to help prevent the injuries as much as possible.

Q.  Do you want to give us a biceps flex?
BUBBA WATSON:  It's pretty big (flexing).  I don't know if y'all have seen that before.  Wait, you probably can't see it.  (Laughter).

Q.  My real question is, since Mike Weir there have been five 11 tees to win at Augusta, and Phil has won three of them‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  He told me about all three‑‑

Q.  Is it the way the golf course fits or is it just the fact that you all three are great players and you've pulled it off?
BUBBA WATSON:  I don't know about those guys.  Phil has used two drivers before at Augusta and he's went to a major without a driver.
For me, I like to move the ball right‑to‑left off the tee so there's like four tee shots there that I can think of offhand that it's tough for me.  No. 11 goes the opposite way.  18, I'm staring as those bunkers the whole time.  No. 1 goes the opposite way and 7 is just dead straight and I can't hit a straight ball.
So for me, those are the four tee shots that right offhand that I know are really difficult for me.  But the golf course, the shot‑making, the creativity around the greens, the creativity out of the trees, that part I love.  When I'm playing a golf course without rough, it has a little bit of rough but for the most part without rough, I can hit any shots and pull the shots off.
Now pulling them off in that moment in a major is a different situation but at some point in my life I've pulled all those shots off and I can do it again.  So I love it, I love going there and seeing the creativity and hopefully my driver is going well.  If my driver is going well, then that golf course sets up really well for me.
JOHN BUSH:  Bubba Watson, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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