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NORTHERN TRUST OPEN


February 16, 2014


Bubba Watson


PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA

LAURA NEAL:¬† We'd like to congratulate our 2014 Northern Trust Open champion, Bubba Watson, 64‑64 on the weekend at Riviera Country Club.¬† Let's just get your reaction at winning at this storied tournament, your first win since the Masters in 2012.
BUBBA WATSON:¬† You know, I made the cut, I think at 1‑under.¬† So I went into the weekend just trying to just play solid golf, just build on it, build on the future.¬† I went out and went bogey‑free, which every pro tries to do every day, but I went out bogey‑free and made seven birdies.¬† And so I jumped up there, had a chance.
Got hot early.¬† Holed a bunker shot on 6 to really get it going and did the same thing, went bogey‑free on the last hole, fell in to shoot another seven birdies to go bogey‑free on the weekend, so it was nice.¬† And around here, I mean, what an honor, what a privilege, what a blessing; the history behind this golf tournament, the history behind some of the great names as champions here.¬† To be a part of that now, to see success here at this golf course, which they haven't changed much over the years, which all of us golfers love.¬† They don't trick it up.¬† They don't have to add a bunch of length.¬† It just is what it is, and it's tough.
LAURA NEAL:  Your reaction on winning for the first time with your family there at the green.
BUBBA WATSON:  It's very nice.  When I won the Masters, it was just me.  Family members were there but not my wife and not my son who was just adopted at that point, now two weeks away from being two years old, what a thrill.  We'll have some pictures with him and my wife and with the trophy, so it's nice.
The reaction of, I know y'all are going to ask, my first win since the Masters, it's just‑‑ you never know when your last win is going to be.¬† My last win could have been the Masters, which would have been a great way to go out.
But winning here at Northern Trust is nice, any time you can get another win, it's very nice and so you know, I never looked down, I never felt down that I haven't won yet but just keep plugging along and somehow it fell in my lap today.

Q.  Does it feel like two years, first of all?  And also, talk about how your game shaped up for this week and how Riviera suits what you do?
BUBBA WATSON:  It doesn't feel like two years, no, because my son, I can't believe we were talking about it the other day, that he's about to be two years old.  Just seems like yesterday where he couldn't walk and now he's running and talking and eating chocolate and running around.
Yeah, so it doesn't feel like two years, but it's crazy that it's coming up on two years.  What was the other part?

Q.  How Riviera suits your game.
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Well, you know, coming in, last year, about this time, I had the flu twice, I had strep throat once at this moment early in the season last year and I thought I was hitting the ball really well.¬† Thought I was playing really well but just a lot of‑‑ lost a lot of weight, did a lot of things, in a couple weeks' span there.¬† So now I just feel fresh, feel energized.
China, I finished eighth, and then finished 23 I think at Torrey Pines, and then second two weeks ago.  And now first.
So you know, this is where‑‑ this is where I'm just comfortable.¬† Me and my caddie are calling this year about rejoicing, thinking back, how blessed we are to play the PGA TOUR, how blessed we are to have a chance to win trophies, win big checks.¬† So that's what we have to look at.
So for me, that's all I'm thinking about.  I'm not thinking about the bad swings.  I'm not thinking about the bad chips or missed putts.  I bogeyed the last hole two weeks ago to lose.  He probably could have beat me in a playoff, as well, if I made the putt.  But I lost and I come in here, hit a good wedge and somehow made the putt to win.
I'm just looking at, I'm always going forward now.¬† You're always trying to go forward.¬† I've got my son and my wife to worry about.¬† If I'm mad about 3‑putts and bad holes, then I've got other issues.

Q.¬† You doubled the very first hole of the tournament‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:  And the third hole.  Three doubles for the week, no big deal.  (Laughter).

Q.¬† Does that shake you up, or do you say, I've got 70 to go, or something?¬† And what happened, I know you don't particularly like that 10th hole, did you drive it or lay‑up for what?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† I laid up.¬† The nicest way to say, is that's a real tough hole.¬† I've never liked that real tough hole (laughter).¬† And I laid it up perfect, hit a 4‑iron, the wedge; I flew it just too far, and so it skipped over the green and just trickled in the bunker.
I have struggled all week in these bunkers, thinking it's going to be fluff.  Sometimes it's hard underneath where I think it's going to be soft underneath.  So I just happened to hit a good bunker shot.  So I hit a bad bunker shot and made somehow a quick six.
And then, you know, when I was telling myself how is tough this golf course is.¬† So just keep your head down, keep focused.¬† And again, a bad swing on the third hole of the tournament after the birdie on 11, so I was 1‑over.¬† Then I had a bad swing again, cost me; I missed the short putt.¬† I think it was my shortest putt of the week missing.¬† It was about four feet.
So I made another quick double on 12, so I was 3‑over through three holes.

Q.¬† I know yesterday you told us you loved this place, but given that your record here isn't very good‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Well, now it's really good‑‑

Q.  How do you explain the two 64s?
BUBBA WATSON:  I love it, and like I said at the start of this is that they haven't changed it much.  They have let it be what it is.  And it's a beautiful piece of land, beautiful piece of property.
Going to the bathroom on 6 right there, you see the old footage, the old photos, I think it was like 1933, the polo grounds and all that stuff.  The history behind this tournament, the years people played in this tournament; I mean, it's incredible and for me to be a part of this now is amazing.
I always put it on my schedule.  I always look forward to the challenge.  I always look forked to the if you have greens, maul greens, hard to hit a lot of greens and challenging yourself.  It's a good field every year because of that, because it challenges you.
And you can't really look at the players; you look at the golf course challenging you.  You have a bunker in the middle of 6 right in the middle of the green so you have to somehow miss that bunker or you're going to make yourself look funny.  That's the challenge of this golf course.  It's always about you and the golf course.  It's not really us and the field.  That's why I love it.

Q.  Did you say you hit wedge into 18?
BUBBA WATSON:  Yes, 164 or something.

Q.  Do you see this course as being, at least this week, advantageous to be long?  You hit a big drive on 17 that got past the bunker?
BUBBA WATSON:  Still made par, though.

Q.  Big advantage?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† I didn't really take advantage, did I.¬† When you look at this golf course this week, I don't know if it's because of the weather lately, but there's no rough.¬† The rough is‑‑ it doesn't scare anybody.¬† And so for a big hitter, yes; you know, it looks‑‑ it makes it a lot easier.
You know, if you look at my stats, I don't know my stats today, they didn't feel that good, but somehow it came out good.  But going into today's round, I was fifth in driving accuracy, so hitting it as far as I do and still be fifth in driving accuracy going into the last round is pretty good.

Q.  Jason Allred said you guys are friends and you met at the AJGA, what was it like to play with him?  He said it was a lot of fun watching you, and for you to see him win more money today than in his entire career.
BUBBA WATSON:¬† It was a big thrill.¬† I've known him since, man, we were 14 or 15.¬† Now he's in Scottsdale.¬† I have a house in Scottsdale, Arizona.¬† We have played some rounds, practiced together.¬† But seeing him out here, I know the struggles.¬† I was on mini‑tours, I was on now the Web.com Tour for three years.
So I know the struggles, and, now he's about to have his third child so this paycheck is going to be pretty good for him.¬† Gets to go to‑‑ well, if the baby doesn't come, he gets to go to Honda with a Top‑10.
No, it's a big thrill.  It was an honor to play with him and watch him do that.  I was cheering him on, probably his biggest fan, especially inside the ropes.  I want to see a friend like that do well so it was nice to see him, as long as he doesn't clip me, and so it was good, really good to see that (laughter).

Q.¬† Can you talk about, no pun intended, the up‑and‑downs of 6 today, because you were not happy on the tee shot.¬† And then you said you weren't that comfortable in the bunkers this week, how did you pull that one off?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† That hole I think was like 169, somewhere in that area.¬† So I was trying to stretch a 9‑iron.¬† I was trying to take it at that bunker which I went into and draw it, give it a little bit more distance.
You know, it's one of those things where when you look back, the 8‑iron, the cut 8‑iron would have been better than the draw, draw 9‑iron but I was trying to push it.
I've been hitting the ball well for the last couple days, so I felt confident I could do it.  When I got in the bunker, we were looking at going off the mound back there, the hill and let it just roll back to the hole.  When I got in there, the hill doesn't look as steep from the bunker to the pin and I thought there was a hill behind it short of that bunker so I thought it could go up if it came out hot and then could just roll back.
And again, it's always a guess, kind of like in the rough.¬† You're always guessing what the lie is going to do, what the lie is giving you.¬† They have been so inconsistent for me.¬† Maybe I'm just not guessing right.¬† But I guessed right that time and it came out the way I thought it would and somehow it went in.¬† The key is trying to get up‑and‑down, not trying to make it obviously.

Q.¬† What do you do as far as charging‑‑
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Well obviously it wasn't a bogey; it was a birdie, so it changes your mind‑set.¬† Basically when you're going in there, when I was going in there, I was thinking at worst, let's make a four and get out of here, give ourselves a chance for 10‑footer for par and hopefully make it and go to the next hole.
And then when it goes in, you're like, well, let's go on to the next hole.¬† And I knew that pushed me close to the lead or right around the lead.¬† So yeah, it was‑‑ obviously it keeps the momentum alive.¬† It's kind of like when you make a par putt, a 10‑foot par putt it keeps that momentum going, it never slowed up, it just kept going, so it was good.

Q.  No. 1, you pulled your drive pretty far to the right of the fairway, and looked like you had a hook shot similar to the one at the Masters; how did that shot set up?  Did you really have to move it as much as it looked like?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Definitely wasn't as much as the Masters.¬† Yeah I try to aim it over those trees and slice it.¬† When I hit driver, I try to slice it over those trees.¬† I didn't slice it obviously so it just went dead straight.¬† It was a perfect gap, it was a lot easier gap than the Masters, but had 7‑iron, I think we had like 191 or something hole.¬† And so I‑‑ the key there was just make somewhat solid contact and get over the bunker, no problem, and it did.
I was there earlier in the week a little bit farther down and hit wedge from that same position a little bit farther down, downwind, and so I was used to that area.  I've been over there quite a few times.

Q.  You talked about understanding and feeling the history of this event.  Were you soaking any of that in walking up to that great amphitheater on 18 with all those people there?  Were you thinking about, now I'm on the wall with Hogan and all those guys?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Well, I was, and then you have to think back, you've still got to 2‑putt.¬† (Laughter).
You think that, too, as you're breathing really hard walking up the hill to the fairway.  You start thinking about stuff like that after you hit the fairway.
But I knew that I had to stay focused; so you try to catch yourself and get back into mind‑set of playing golf.¬† You know, it's funny, when that putt was rolling, it somehow went in, but you know, I'm just going to lag it up there, lag it up there, somehow get it where you can make it and you don't have to breathe and take a deep breath again.¬† But it fell in.
Yeah, when you're walking up there and you see where it is, your 15‑footer or whatever it was, yeah, you start thinking about what this means, somehow 2‑putting and then good thoughts, bad thoughts creep in, so you just have to catch yourself and slow down and make sure you complete what you're doing.

Q.  The leaderboard became pretty crowded today with some quality players, obviously you, Dustin, Charl Schwartzel, Jordan before he slipped back; how much did you keep an eye on the leaderboard today?
BUBBA WATSON:  I always keep an eye on it.  You know, these people that say they don't keep an eye on it; you want to know where you're at; you want to know what it means; you want to know if you want to attack a pin.
Coming down, I saw that I was winning, I was right there.  My playing partner was playing really good at the time.  I think he was one back.  He slipped up and made a bogey, Brian made a bogey on 10 so that gave me a little cushion on him.
So knowing that he was playing good, I had somebody right there beside me playing really good.¬† And so for me, yeah, I always look, I always want to know.¬† I want to know if I need to attack or if I can just play a little safer, and the same thing I did on the par3, 14.¬† I played a little safer, tried to play to the fat of the green and just 2‑putt.
Same thing I did out of the bunker on 15, play it to the fat side of the green, try to get a 2‑putt.¬† Same thing I did on 16, I didn't have to go for it.¬† I could play it to the fat of the green and hopefully putt over from there.¬† That's what I did.
Same thing on 17.¬† Once I hit it in that bunker, I just told myself, hit it up on that tier where the pin is so it's an easier 2‑putt.¬† That's all did I, just tried to position myself‑‑ once I got in a position where I was, I tried to position myself where I could make an easy par or a great chance for par.

Q.  You obviously had two different sides today, the front side, you were making a lot of birdies but the back side you made a lot of big pars.  Talk about the back side and how big those putts were coming down the stretch for you.
BUBBA WATSON:  It was really big.  The only putt I missed, I wished I could redo was No. 10.  I hit a good putt and somehow it just fell off to the left.
11 was a big putt for birdie.
12, I thought I hit a good tee shot, it just didn't hit the fairway.  Caught a little jumper out of that lie so it squirted it off.  Chipped it up there 12, 15 feet maybe, made that.  That was a big one.  That was the momentum we were talking about.  Made that putt, kept the round going, kept me going.
Next hole, I had to make a little 6‑footer that broke a little bit.¬† So it was a big putt there. ¬†So, yeah, that was the key, it's just making these putts and I left them‑‑ they were all uphill putts.
14, I left it three feet short right up the hill.
15, I left it three feet short right up the hill.
16 I almost made; 17 I almost made.
So yeah, I left myself the uphillers where I could be a little more aggressive and actually have confidence in the strokes there.

Q.  This is your fifth PGA TOUR win.  I looked it up, just noticed, three in a playoff, and one by one shot.  You win by two today.  Does it feel like you cruised?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† Yeah, like it was easy (laughter).¬† You know, it was funny, I was thinking about that, I was like‑‑ in Waste Management, I was like, if I could just make that putt, I'm good in playoffs.¬† But I missed it.
So, you know, and I wasn't trying to make the putt on the last hole.¬† I was trying to lag it in there so I could just tap it in.¬† Somehow it fell in so I won by two instead of one.¬† No, it's funny, I've looked at that many times‑‑ I was never good in playoffs until I got to the PGA TOUR.¬† Maybe I should get in more playoffs.

Q.¬† Is there a story behind or significance to your pink‑colored driver?
BUBBA WATSON:¬† When I did the driver a few years ago, the year that I won the Masters, 2012 I did it for charity.¬† I went to PING, I went to John Solheim and asked if we could do a pink driver head.¬† The shaft has always been for fun.¬† If you are going to be the longest one, why not have a pink‑shafted driver; it would be funny.
But the driver head itself we did for charity.  I think we raised right around $350,000 for a children's hospital in Phoenix so we built a lab.  It's called the PING and Bubba Watson Gate Lab in the children's hospital in Phoenix.  So that's what we donated the money to and they are building it out, should be done in a few months.  Probably about four or five months it will be done.  So kids will start going in there and they will be able to see how they walk, why their hips move a certain way when they are born with certain illnesses.
So the driver really means something, and hopefully we're going to do it again.  We're going to sell some more.  We only did 5,000 the time that we sold them for charity.

Q.  The leaderboard this morning, the top five guys were not really household names, but Brian Harman seemed to really stick with it today.  Could you talk about his game, were you familiar with his game before today and what do you think about it?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, he's a Bulldog, so obviously he's a good player (laughter).  Georgia Bulldogs.
So you know, obviously I'm partial to the lefties, but I knew what his career was, his amateur career, his college career because of Chris Hack, the coach there at Georgia.
So I know what kind of player he is, what kind of player he can be.  He's a very good driver of the golf ball.  Hits it very straight and his short game is really good.  He's really steady over the putts.  So I knew he was going to be a force, especially when he gets on TOUR.  You know, he's going to get there.  He's going to be a solid player.
I knew that today, you can't ‑‑ you don't think anyone is going to go backwards; you always think, you have to go forward.¬† So looking at that leaderboard, I never looked at who was up there, how many wins he has or how many wins he doesn't have.
I was looking at:  There's a number out there and I'm going to shoot it.  I have to shoot it and I have to go out there and play good golf.  I never really looked at who was around me, what kind of talent level they have, what kind of record, career they have.  You're always looking at trying to beat the golf course first.  So that was my goal.
LAURA NEAL:  Bubba, thank you and congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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