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January 25, 2006

Bubba Watson


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Bubba Watson for stopping by at the 2006 Buick Invitational. Bubba playing in his second event as a PGA TOUR member; in his first event Sony Open in Hawaii finished 4th. Not a bad start for a rookie out here, Bubba. Why don't we start by revisiting that 4th place finish and how you felt. Go through your first Tour event as a member.

BUBBA WATSON: Going into the week, Sunday afternoon when I got there, when I landed, called the tournament director and he said I was in. I didn't have to Monday qualify. Then leading up to Thursday, I'm trying to make the cut so I can get into the reshuffle after Tucson, and then nervous on the first tee there, nervous on Friday. I hooked out of bounds on Friday. Just nervous the whole week.

And then when I was toward the lead later in the week, stayed in the Top 10 all week. I figured I could still stay up there pretty good even though I didn't shoot well the front nine on Sunday. It was pretty nerve wracking and exciting to do.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about what you did to prepare for your first year on Tour, and did you talk to anybody? What are you trying to learn out here this year?

BUBBA WATSON: You know, I've never been overseas to play some big events, so as soon as I got my Tour card on the last number, we had set up to go to Japan for two and then Australia for two and maybe three if I wanted to. So I went over there just to try to feel the media, feel the attention for the way I hit it and everything. Nobody has really seen it, nobody has been able to see it up close I guess I should say. Everybody wanted to take pictures and see me. They didn't care if I shot 90 or 60, they just wanted to see me hit it hard. I went over there, made all five cuts and lost in a playoff to Robert Allenby.

I then had two weeks off before I started getting really serious playing again. That's really how I prepared. I just wanted to get the nerves out of there and see how I could play in the bigger fields, bigger events, and it seemed to work out pretty good those five weeks.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: It was just one of those things that my dad gave me a 9 iron at age 6 and said hit it hard as you can, and it's one of those things where he said the older you get, you can't teach length. All these people try to teach it, and this will help you get distance. It's not. It's about hitting the ball in the center of the club face and hitting it hard. That's all you can do. At age 30 you wouldn't be able to learn length. He said hit it hard, then you'll be able to learn to hit it straight. That's the one you can learn, but you can't learn to hit it long.

Q. You said you played with a wiffle ball. What exactly did that involve?

BUBBA WATSON: The house was probably an acre and a half yard with big trees, downtown Bagdad. The house is sitting here, and I drew in the dirt driveway. I'd draw a big circle, and that would be my hole, a five foot circle. I'd go around it to the left and then I'd go around it to the right. So I learned to cut it if you know about wiffle balls or plastic balls, it's hard to cut. Then I learned to hook it the other way, hit it high over limbs, hit it low under limbs. I'd say nonstop every day from 6 to 12 years old. Instead of playing with trucks out in the yard, I'd play with a ball and a club.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: At age 6 I just wanted to drive the cart around, but I hit shots just with a 9 iron. My dad saw that I could play a little bit so they got me my first set of clubs, which were a mixed breed you could say, at age 7. Then my parents bought me a junior set at age 8. I started at age 8 really playing little tournaments and getting into it.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Yes, Bagdad, sorry. Bagdad, Florida.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: The head pro at Tanglewood where I started, the pro there was left handed, and he had like maybe a broke 9 iron or something, and my dad reshafted it for me.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, I'm left handed. I played baseball for two years before I played golf, so I'm left handed naturally. Everything is left handed.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I don't know. I mean, it's something to watch because I get excited when I know I hit a good one or bad one. When it comes down to it, it's not really it's just a thing the fans like. I'd rather shoot in the 60s every day rather than hit it long. Corey Pavin has a good record and I'd like to have that. Heath Slocum has won twice. I'd take two wins in a heartbeat.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: He knows a guy named Bubba should be the future of the Tour (laughter)? We've got two Bubbas now on the Tour. We have John Daly, now there's two Bubbas, and who knows what's going to happen in '07. I mean, it's good to hear, but until I win and prove myself, length doesn't get you the record, it doesn't get you in the Hall of Fame, doesn't get you anything.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: It's not really I'd sit back and think after the tournament because me and my buddies, they've seen it for years, they know what I can do, and then when they get to see it on TV in Hawaii, me and my caddie talk about it. I'm 8 under, let's have some fun. Let's impress somebody. It might go out of bounds, but let's hit it hard. I happened to shoot 30, and then the one on 12 where I hit it 398 with Charles Warren, who's a friend of mine, and then Rory Sabbatini was playing unbelievable that day, that was once. I hit it good and I knew it. I was just goofing around with them and it was fun.

And then on 14, two holes later, I cut it over the bunker. It didn't go as far as it could have, I hit it a little bit higher, and a little kid was over there with "Go Bubba" signs. I notice all of that. I still hadn't taken a breath at that point, but that's the two that stood out.

Q. What's your caddie's name?

BUBBA WATSON: John Ritterbeck.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, not anymore. Yeah, that would be neat because everybody loves Peter Jacobson or Lee Trevino, but I want to be the first Bubba Watson. I figured that out. I don't want to be like anybody else. People say, "How about Phil Mickelson, Payne Stewart?" I want to be the first Bubba. There's one Tiger, one Vijay, one Phil, that's who I want to be. Now there's two Bubbas, so that's going to be hard to do.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Well, I have dreams and goals and things that I want to do, and yes, sometimes I get out there and I think that the announcers on 16 at Sony wanted me to pull out the driver and I thought about it long and hard, and three years ago I would have hit it quicker than anybody. I decided that I'm too close to with 18 coming up, I'm too close. If I make two pars and a birdie I can get a Top 5, and it would be my first tournament as a rookie and that would be pretty good. I hit a 4 iron just short of the bunker and made par and made eagle to come in 4th.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I can remember everything (laughter). It was No. 13 at the Dunlop Phoenix, dogleg up to the left, a little up the hill. But I didn't hit I carry a hybrid, I don't carry a 3 wood, so it's basically just like a 1 iron. That's what I hit. I just cut it up over the trees and everything, but it's not an iron. Everybody exaggerates a little bit.

Q. How far was it?

BUBBA WATSON: I think it was 323, somewhere in that area.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Three weeks ago nobody wanted to talk to me. I walked on at Sony and I got about two or three kids asking for autographs, but then Sunday afternoon I sat there for as long as they'd keep coming I signed autographs. Three weeks ago nobody cared which Bubba was which. But it's exciting because this is what I've wanted to do, this is what I've tried to do, this is what I've worked hard at. It might not look like it sometimes on the range; even though I only hit ten balls or so on the range, I still work hard at those ten balls.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Sometimes it does. I mean, it's fun for me, though. If I shoot 30 every time I start hitting it real hard, I'll do it every time. I don't want to be known for that. I want to be known for good playing, and the bonus is being long. But at the same time, I want to be known for something, I guess. I don't want to be known for shooting 80, but I want to be known for hitting it long, I guess.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I don't know if I'm prepared for it. I mean, somewhat, but it's fun for me. The fans I have seen it for so many years how the fans, the media is looking for somebody to have fun with. John Daly was right there. I mean, he's still a fan favorite because he's different. He's not just a machine, he's not just doing this, doing that. He's actually, to put it nicely, more of a redneck kind of like me (laughter). It's something that the fans get used to, the guys you love to come out and see and be as friendly as possible. I'm just happy to be here.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I love it. I had to do something good to get the attention.

Q. I want to go back to the wiffle ball for a second. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I'm trying to bring that out to the Tour, but there's only one No. 1 in the world. I'm going to try to do stuff like that because the hardest shot in golf is to hit it dead straight. I definitely can't hit it dead straight. I like to move it every shot just because I feel more comfortable doing that. That's what I am used to doing. Hitting big hooks with irons, that's something I can do naturally, it's easy to do.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I guess you could say I hit it in the trees a lot, so I know how to get out of trees pretty good (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I wouldn't know what that meant. It's just that I mean, I'm just trying to have fun with it, you know. I mean, there's too many I'm blessed to be where I'm at. Nationwide was pretty good, and every time the one time I won on the Hooters event, and the few Tight Lies Tour events I won, I was happy to get those checks. I wasn't going to give them back.

Being out here is just a bonus, a plus. It's a dream come true. I'm going to have fun with the media, and all my friends, all my fans, try to have as much fun as possible.

Q. You just mentioned the Nationwide Tour. How much did that do for you last year, playing on that Tour and getting you ready for this year?

BUBBA WATSON: It's done a lot. There's a lot of things I need to learn. Right now it comes down to your mental game. I don't stay focused for the four hours, five hours we're out there, and I don't I tend to keep shots in sometimes and remember that I hit a double bogey a couple holes ago. On the Nationwide Tour for the three years I was out there, I came in 62nd, 37th and 25th on the Money List, so I got better every year, and calmed myself down and got used to it. It was a great learning experience, and hopefully this year I improve and next year I keep improving. That was the year that started it off, just felt like everything was going my way.

Q. What is the wildest thing you've ever heard said about you?

BUBBA WATSON: Hitting an iron on a par 4 in Japan from the No. 1 player in the world (laughter). Just everything. I mean, everybody is going to say I hit this, I hit that. There's a couple players yesterday I hit driver, 6 iron to 18 out here. A lot of guys hit 3 wood into it. You know, I didn't think nothing of it, but by the end of the week it might be 9 iron into it. I mean, who knows. But I'm not going to change their stories. I'll let it just keep growing.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, I've never played with him, never.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, it wouldn't be my dream foursome. It would be close, but he wouldn't be in the dream foursome. It would be Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum. I'd go ahead and be five. I thought you meant four people and then me, sorry.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I'd send him a box of chocolates and I'd send his wife two dozen roses.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, we were pretty good friends. I played with Jason the first time I think was at BMW in Greenville there in the little Pro Am thing that we have. Unbelievable. It was as good a season as anybody could have, struggling at the beginning and then not sure what he was going to do. He just got confidence at the U.S. Open. You play with the big boys and you're off and running, and that's what he did. Who knows what's going to happen from here, but probably a lot of good things for him.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, my parents grew up with a little money, and me growing up, my parents had I wouldn't say we were poor by any means because they made sure I had everything I wanted and my sister had everything she wanted. So when I turned pro and nobody was helping me out, nobody I wasn't going to be able to play, so the lowest point was not sure what I was going to do, and then Ping stepped up and gave me some money, and I was off and running.

All the mini Tours I played really well. Last year I played a couple mini Tour events on the Nationwide Tour, so money always happened to be there. I never thought about quitting. I don't have any lessons, I've never had a lesson. I don't get down. If I shoot 80 tomorrow, next day I can shoot 65 because I never think about it. I'm not smart enough to remember scores. I'm smart enough to remember other things, but not scores. Jack Nicklaus says he's never missed a five footer or three footer because he always forgets about it.

Q. Going back to the Nationwide Tour, your putting stats have been above average.

BUBBA WATSON: That Ping putter is really good. I was sort of concentrating on it more. I hit balls just to loosen up and get the feel of the swing, and then I work on putting. I might only putt for 15, 20 minutes, but I really focus on trying to make my putts and stay down on them and have confidence. I've just got more confidence because I realized that I can play with the boys on the Nationwide Tour and every year I got better and better. That's what it comes down to is the confidence in my head. I say I can hang with them, but until I prove it to myself, that's when I get better.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I didn't know my grandparents really, the ones from Tupelo, Mississippi. My dad has never met him. So he was like my grandfather. He owned a piece of the golf course. He passed away last year, January 9th. That's the first thing I thought about. He was a Ping rep, so that's the first thing I thought about. I called him and said, "Hey, let's put it on there." He said, "Let's do it."

Q. How did you get your name?

BUBBA WATSON: As soon as I was born. I'd say ten seconds after I was born my dad said I was fat and ugly, so let's call him Bubba. I guess a lot of football players, the name was being thrown around. So I was real chubby in the face like a football player, so my dad just called me Bubba. It's the same name as his, my real name, so that's why he just called me Bubba.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, I don't fish, I don't hunt. I've never been camping, I've never done any of that stuff. I don't drink beer. I've never been drunk. I've never partied, never done any of that. And NASCAR is not my thing.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, we're probably two different people when it comes to the stuff he likes to do and the stuff I like to do.

Q. What do you like to do?

BUBBA WATSON: Sleep a lot. I'm real lazy. I hate running, I just like to sleep. I think Tiger and his caddie went out running yesterday, and I was like, you won't see me doing that, and my caddie won't be running, either (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: He came out a few times to play with us. Bones, his caddie, is from Athens, Georgia. Before when he used to take the week off before The Masters or before majors, he'd come over and play.

There's a few things like we would we didn't gamble, but we'd play for fun. There was one time I was beating him on the last hole, and he said, "Double or nothing here," on our fun bet. I said, "Okay, yeah, you're 50 feet from the hole, no big deal. Any time you want that." So he putted it, and about halfway to the hole, he said, "Bones, take that out of the hole," and it went in. That was my first taste of Phil. That was pretty good.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Who said that?

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I don't know what he's talking about. I was just a young kid making up stuff. I don't know if he would deny this or not, but Callaway had the VFT, I've never seen one, but the driver back in 2000 or something like that, and that's when the Pro V1 came out, 2000, 2001, and we were still playing the Professional. And he said, "Man, look at this, nobody can outdrive me." No. 2 in the world or something like that, just listen to him. They all said, "Bubba can." He said, "No, there's nobody." I had the old Ping driver, the ISI with a steel shaft, 44 inches, and I put it like ten yards past him right down the middle of the fairway. He'll probably still deny it. He said he missed it a little bit after he hit it.

Q. Are you playing AT & T?

BUBBA WATSON: If I'm in the field, I'm playing. I think I'm going to get in that one, yeah.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: I've never been there.

Q. Any particular challenges that you see?

BUBBA WATSON: If I hit it short, that means everybody else is going to hit it short. A little challenge. I think every week it comes down to putting, really. I heard the greens are kind of bumpy every once in a while there.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: You know, you hear stories. I've never seen me on videotape. I've watched coverage of ESPN, the Sunday round and saw that, but I've never seen it on videotape. They say that it's because I use my arc, my long arms, and I use every bit of it. I have a little bit of a cut but I can twist pretty good and it just recoils really fast at impact. It's just one of those things that just happened to work out. I do everything it takes to hit it hard, and somehow I do it.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: No, my wife has tried a few times to get me to work out, and she yells at me about that. She said for health reasons is why she wants me to work out. But no, I don't see myself doing that. I might ride the bike or something if that's ever going to be something I do. I don't have to go a long way, I can just sit right there on a bike (laughter). There will be no yoga, you won't see me lift up any weights over 100 pounds, nothing like that.

Q. You're still not working with anybody, so how do you work on things if you're in a slump?

BUBBA WATSON: I never see myself in a slump. I can't think of any time I played bad for more than two weeks, three weeks. I'd say there's bad days. Yeah, there's going to be times when I'm going to miss short putts or hit a ball out of bounds, all this stuff is going to happen. I never see it as the putter's fault or the driver's fault, I just see it as a bad day and I'll play tomorrow. If I play two bad days, well, hey, next week. I mean, life is too good and life is too short to worry about all that stuff.

You know, if it ever comes down to where I need a lesson, I'm retiring. I'm never going to have a lesson.

Q. (Inaudible).

BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, that's one term I really wanted to play in it, even if I shoot 80. I'm still going to be happy because it's Pebble. All my friends want to play there, I grew up wanting to play there, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Would a lesson screw you up if somebody got a hold of you?

BUBBA WATSON: I think I'd screw them up more than anything else. People say quiet your hips, do your elbow. I don't have a clue what that means, I just hit it.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you for your time, Bubba. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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