ON THE TEE

Q&A with the enig­matic Bubba Wat­son

The Cut - - CONTENTS -

Af­ter win­ning the Masters in 2014, fin­ish­ing tied 38th this year must have been a bit of a come­down. What pos­i­tives did you take out of your per­for­mance?

What I took from the tour­na­ment is that I’m hit­ting the ball well. I just didn’t make the putts, although I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. They touched the hole, touched the lip. My driver was per­form­ing at a high level and I hit some good iron shots, but I just couldn’t make those putts. We know golf is about mo­men­tum. When you hit a great bunker shot or some­thing to six feet and you miss the putt, it slows mo­men­tum. I went to Au­gusta with high ex­pec­ta­tions and just didn’t make any putts.

You must have been im­pressed with Jor­dan Spi­eth’s per­for­mance.

I think I shot one un­der the first two days. So I’m two un­der and he was… what was he? He was four­teen or fif­teen un­der. When you look at that, I’m like, wow, you’re play­ing a dif­fer­ent ma­jor cham­pi­onship than the one I’m play­ing! He played un­be­liev­ably… he be­came the first per­son to ever get to 19 un­der. Made all his putts. If you saw on the Sun­day at the 16th, he sank that big break­ing putt for par. It just shows how you go about win­ning big tour­na­ments, by mak­ing those putts.

It looks like the ba­ton is be­ing passed to the younger gen­er­a­tion be­cause Rory McIl­roy is ranked No 1 and Jor­dan Spi­eth No 2. What do you make of this ba­ton change?

It’s good. It shows that the game of golf is where it should be. As the guys get older, it changes. The older guys are not as highly ranked as they were be­fore, so it shows golf is in the right spot. That’s why we’re trav­el­ling to places like China — to grow the game even more.

Do you think the out­look is good for golf in China?

I think with the pop­u­la­tion in China, golf can grow, can dou­ble in size. If the young peo­ple get into golf over the next five years it could change the game here.

Play­ing the PGA Tour is what play­ers must aspire to?

I al­ways dreamed at a young age of play­ing on the PGA Tour. I al­ways thought it was the best tour and had the best play­ers. Grow­ing up, you al­ways dream about ma­jors and win­ning them. So, yeah, I had the same dreams as every­body else. You al­ways want to per­form at a high level, but the first goal is to get on to the PGA Tour and then to com­pete there.

Tell us about your char­i­ties.

When I was grow­ing up, my par­ents didn’t have that much money so some of the ju­nior tour­na­ments I played in were free. For me, I like giv­ing back and spon­sor­ing ju­nior events so kids can play for free. It’s about try­ing to help kids in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, al­low­ing them to see the game of golf, to learn and play the game. In 2012, I launched a Drive to a Mil­lion cam­paign to raise money for char­i­ties close to my heart. Ear­lier this year we auc­tioned a 1939 Cadil­lac that raised $410,000. Also, I’ve adopted both my kids. So I’m all about help­ing kids. It’s more thrilling for me to give back to char­ity than it is to win big golf tour­na­ments. It’s just a pas­sion of mine.

Golf in the Olympics. How much is that part of your plan?

I can’t wait and hope­fully I’m on the team. I just hope I can qual­ify. It’s a thrill to rep­re­sent your coun­try, to rep­re­sent the United States flag, or wher­ever you’re from. For me, it would be an hon­our, a thrill. Hav­ing golf in the Olympics is great for the game. I think when the world sees the sport it’s go­ing to help grow the game. I think why they put golf back in the Olympics is be­cause they re­alised how popular the game is.

One ma­jor has been played to date in 2015 with Jor­dan Spi­eth win­ning. How do you see the ones ahead?

I’m look­ing for­ward to them all. St An­drews, which hosts the Open Cham­pi­onship, is a great golf course, although you don’t know how it is go­ing to be set up. It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing. It’s a long course, so it could be good for me if I can hit my driver straight. Then we have Whistling Straits, where I’ve fin­ished sec­ond, so I’m look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge there. All the ma­jors are about mak­ing putts, par­tic­u­larly when you’re com­ing down the stretch at the week­end. That’s the key to any golf tour­na­ment.

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