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April 11, 2014

Bubba Watson


MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Like to welcome Bubba Watson to the interview room after carding a 4‑under par 68, which included a stretch of five consecutive birdies from holes 12 through 16.  The 2012 Masters Champion is making his sixth Masters appearance.
Bubba, before we take some questions, can you tell us how you were feeling during the round out there today, please.
BUBBA WATSON:  I felt really good.  You know, you start off hitting a tee shot in the fairway on the first hole, hit a good iron shot, so that gets the confidence going and gets everything going, your juices flowing.
You know, it's the same thing.  It's not science here.  It's try to hit the greens, and if you're hitting the greens that means you're obviously hitting your tee shots well.  So that's all I'm trying to do is just hit the greens, that means my tee shots are good and two putts, maybe throw in a birdie here or there.  So that's really all I was doing and that's what I've done the last two days and it's worked out so far.

Q.  Do you find it a lot easier this year compared to last year when you had a lot of commitments and a lot of stuff going on as defending champion?  Is there a difference?  Is it easier for you this time around?
BUBBA WATSON:  It's easier for me.  I can't speak for the other guys but for me it is.  Champions Dinner was not about me.  I could enjoy Champions Dinner this time and listen to some of the stories.  I was in awe when I was a champion, when it was my dinner.  You know you're sitting there amongst the great champions that are in, and this year I got to be just a bystander, one of the guys, and it's Adam's night.
So media attention is on the defending champion.  You know, you're asked all these questions, can you defend, how are you going to play, how are you going to do this.  You have to give up the green jacket.  You have to give it back to them, so there's a lot of things going on, media attention, when you're defending champion.
For me I didn't know how to handle it the best way, and so I didn't play my best golf last year.  But you know, this year I come in here with no media attention, just out there practicing.  I changed my routine a little bit, played nine holes a day starting on Monday and just tried to save energy as much as I can.  So, yeah, it was very different from last year to this year.

Q.  Could you describe the putt on 14 and also you putted extremely well all year, what has gone into that?
BUBBA WATSON:  14, I had Sergio‑‑ Sergio had a chip and had to go right over my coin, basically.  And I watched his ball, he checked it up, and then it went straight sideways about 15 feet, and he hit it about eight inches from the hole.  So for me having that putt from the same line, I knew where to aim it, knew kind of what the speed was.  It was a lot different than what I was thinking, and then somehow it just went in.  When it goes in, it's luck, but at least I had the line and everything because I got to see Sergio's, but without Sergio's chip, I probably would have 3‑putted it.
Putting, I tinkered with a counterbalance putter just to change it up, and then when I made another putter, standard length, or my standard length, we went a half inch over and I think going a half inch over what I'm used to for the last eight years on TOUR, it made my hands more relaxed, more bent.  So it's an athletic putting stroke now instead of me trying to guide the ball in the hole.  My whole golf game is based off of feel and I guess I'm athletic.
So now I'm just trying to change my putt to do that, as well.  So after nine years of missing all of them, I'm starting to make a few.

Q.  Not that you know the alternative, but do you think it's an advantage being a left‑hander out there?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, yes.  Lefties are the best (laughter).
No, I don't see it.  I just see‑‑ you know, I like to cut the ball.  A righty likes to draw the ball.  Throughout history, I know there's more lefties now on TOUR, but throughout history righties have won more than lefties.  I just like to cut the ball, so it works out good at this golf course for me cutting it off the tee.

Q.  After yesterday's round, you said there was a secret to your game this week.  Are you ready to reveal that secret?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, I did reveal it yesterday and I've revealed it already today.  Thanks for listening, though, really paying attention (laughter).

Q.  Is hitting greens the secret?
BUBBA WATSON:  Like I said, it's not a science.  If you're hitting greens, obviously you're not going to be in the trees that many times, unless you're me I guess.
So, yeah, by hitting greens, you're hitting your tee shots well and you're hitting the par3 or short par 4, No. 4, really well, and so you're just‑‑ everything is going right in your game.  So if you're hitting greens‑‑ I missed two greens yesterday, missed a few more today with the conditions a little tougher, but my tee shots are pretty good.  There hasn't been too many real bad tee shots.

Q.  Describe what it feels like to fire five straight birdies on the back nine at the Masters.
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, the four straight birdies I had a couple years ago felt a lot better, but yeah, it's the same stretch I had before.  The two par 5s are reachable for me.
Again, 16, I hit a great 9‑iron downwind, it almost went in the hole.
And I hit a 9‑iron into No. 12.
So the three holes are a lot tougher to birdie for me, but I've done it before.  You're still focused on what you're doing, you're not really thinking you've just had three in a row, you've had four in a row.
It's one of those things, every guy in the field has had that stretch before, playing with their buddies or playing in a tournament, so it's not that big a deal when we think about it.  But at the Masters, it makes it a big deal.

Q.  The clubs at 12 and 16 today?
BUBBA WATSON:  9‑iron.

Q.  Both?

Q.  Was there a lingering hangover after 2012 that carried over into last year?  You obviously did not have the same kind of year you had in 2012?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, no, I was still celebrating my green jacket (laughter).  How many green jackets you got?  (Laughter) If you had one, you would celebrate it for a year or two (laughter).
No, it is‑‑ you've got to think about where I've come from, my mom having two jobs to pay for my golf, my dad working in construction.  And when you think about that and where I am in my career and where I am in my family, my young family; you're thinking about how great this was.  Besides the Lord, marrying my wife and having our child, it's right there, it's fourth or fifth on the list.
So when you think about that, it's an accomplishment for a guy named Bubba, with my mom, my upbringing.  My year, my career was complete after that win.
So yeah, obviously I was going to hang over.  Never been drunk before, but a hangover from the green jacket.  It is, it's going to take me some time.  You know, I do everything my way.  I learned the game my way.  I figured it out my way.  So it just takes me a little bit longer with the mental focus and drive to get back to where I am today.  This year started off a little bit better than last year.

Q.  Following up on that thought, that this sort of made your career, and you're celebrating winning the green jacket, did that affect or take away a little bit of the desire or ambition for maybe a few months because you were so satisfied by winning here?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, it's not really the desire.  What it is, it drains you a lot more than you know.  So as soon as you win, you get a green jacket on you.  Every sponsor that you have, every company you represent, they want a piece of your time, they want more of your time.
Yellow flags, I've seen enough of those.  I really don't want to sign too many more of those yellow flags.  I think I've signed every single one since 2012.
I flew to PING; I did a PING day.  I talked to every worker there, signed 5,000, 10,000 flags.  You know, when you start doing that every week, every other week, because you can't do it every week; so they want you one week and your next sponsor wants you two weeks later.  When you have a week off, you don't really have a week off because somebody wants you to go here.
At the same time, when I won the green jacket, I was becoming a dad.  And so learning to be a good dad, learning to be a better husband; it takes time on you.  It takes energy.  And then learning how to refocus, repractice, get back to the level that I think I should be at; you know, Top‑25 player in the world, not going to say Top‑5 player in the world (laughter).  Sorry, Patrick Reed.
But yeah, all of that, learning how to become a family man, learning how to become a great champion, learning how to get back to practicing the right way and focusing the right way on the golf course, a lot of hard work to get back to this level.

Q.  Is it a little different having your son at age two when he's more active?
BUBBA WATSON:  For sure, last year was great and that was another part, having my son here for the first time last year.  That's another thing, just figuring out how the whole family thing works at a big golf tournament.
This year having him walk around the Par3 for a few holes, yeah, it's really fun, having the family here, having in‑laws here, having friends here.  You know, this year is a lot different than it was last year.  I told everybody, you can't stay at my house; so I rented two houses.  They all stay in one and I stay in the other with my family, just to get away.
Like yesterday, when I got done, I knew how good the round was, so no TV was turned on.  I didn't want to hear anything.  I just want to play my golf, and that's what I've been doing over the last year and a half since I won.  I don't watch the golf.  I don't watch anything.  I don't want to see anything; read, I don't want to read anything about me.  I just want to focus on my family and my golf a little bit.

Q.  In that year when you learned to balance your time, describe how golf seems to be more fun for you between the first tee and last hole?
BUBBA WATSON:  When you look back at my short career or my life, as a kid, I think we all do the same thing, as a kid you have that chance to win, you always dream about making a putt or chipping in to win or something like that, from 10, 12, 13 years old.  So as a kid, your whole goal in life to is to make the PGA TOUR, and when you make the PGA TOUR, then you think you should be the best.  And so your goals change.
So what I'm trying to do is go back to being a kid again and just rejoicing.  I've said this whole year is about rejoicing and thinking about, as a kid, you'll be so excited to play on the PGA TOUR for nine years.  So when you hang your head because you shot 77 in the last round or an 80 in the last round, it really doesn't mean anything.
As a kid, you don't think about the bad days.  You always think about the great days.  So playing here at Augusta, there's a lot of people that wished they could play this tournament and a lot of people that wish they could play this tournament more than once.  So for me, that's what I have to look at, where I'm at in my life, where I'm at in my career.  I've just got to keep grinding.
It's all about not focusing on the bad stuff.  It's about how lucky I am to be able to play golf for a living and just keep going from there.

Q.  You've always been a little bit of a jumpy character.

Q.  Now you're coming into the week and you've got a nice lead at the Masters.  How are you going to deal with the next couple days?
BUBBA WATSON:  Well, I'll tell you tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully I'm back here tomorrow afternoon.
You know, it's one of those things.  I've won golf tournaments.  I've been lucky enough to win here.  Just got to keep my head down, same thing I've been doing the last two days, same thing I did earlier this year.  Just keep my head down, not try to, not trying to focus on the crowds cheering for me and stuff.  Trying to stay level, not too energized, not too excited.
You know, when I made the putt on 14, I gave a wave to the crowd and everything, but I just tried to ‑‑ no big deal, let's just go to the next hole and focus on the next shot.  That's what I have to do.  When I do that, I play pretty well.  That's what I have to do is just try to do the same things I did the last two days and hopefully I can do it the next two days.

Q.  You made a reference earlier to, "I guess I'm athletic."  Can you offer an example over the last two days where your athleticism made a difference?
BUBBA WATSON:  Every shot I think.  I've never had a swing coach, never had a lesson.  So it's all slap‑cuts, I guess you could say, with my driver.  They get out there pretty far, though.
Let's see‑‑

Q.  Any particular situation where you think your size or athleticism separates you from others?
BUBBA WATSON:  I don't know about separates me.  Just makes me average, you know, PGA TOUR player.
But I don't know, I hit 9‑iron the last two days, flew it 186 yesterday on 16 with a 9‑iron.  I guess it's all right (laughter).  You know, I hit it back there.
Today I hit it from 150‑something, and I flew it 178 with a 9‑iron a couple holes later.  So being athletic, I guess you could say I could hit any shot with any club.  Doesn't mean it's going to go perfect every time.  Just means right now it's going pretty decent.

Q.  You mentioned that post‑Masters hangover.  So when did you start feeling like Bubba again?  When were you yourself again?
BUBBA WATSON:  When I looked at the FedExCup last year and how bad it was.  When I looked at the team event‑‑ what was last year?  Presidents Cup last year.  When the team event was going on and I wasn't there, you know, all those things hit you.
You're thinking you have the ability to do this; you have the ability to perform at a high level; you've done it before.  You know, are you going to dedicate yourself?  Are you going to practice?  Are you going to‑‑ and what I had to do was learn how to work more efficiently; if that meant 30 minutes a day on the range or 15 minutes on the range and 15 minutes putting, that's what I needed to do.
I need to give my wife some rest.  I need to be a dad and take care of my boy when my wife can rest.  And then set a time a day when I have a week off, the time here; I've got 30 minutes here, I've got an hour here.  So I just had to dedicate myself and be more efficient when I was practicing to get back to a level that I want to play at.
Right now, we are at that level and we are back to playing pretty good golf.  We have a shot at making The Ryder Cup Team this year, and so got two more days, I could really have a good shot at making it with two more great days.
MODERATOR:  Thanks for being here, Bubba, good luck this weekend.

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