Questions For ... Bubba Watson

Questions For … Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson has two top-3 finishes this season.
David Walberg/SI

Since you joined the PGA Tour in 2006, you have had nine top-5 finishes, including third place at last week’s Transitions. Why haven’t you been able to get it done on Sunday?
It’s been a putt here or there, and times when the momentum has not completely gone my way. A second or third isn’t bad, but we’re still looking for a victory. My first goal coming into the year was to make the Ryder Cup team. If that means coming in second a few times or winning a few times, that’s my main goal.

You were widely criticized for choosing to lay up on the par-5 14th during the final round of the Bob Hope Classic when you were only a shot behind the leader and had a chance to win. Would you make the same choice if you had to do it all over again?
Definitely. I had rocks on one side and water on the other side with 246 to the hole and a bare lie that I didn’t like. I had to play the percentages. I would rather lose a tournament on the last hole than on the 14th hole. If I had made birdie there no one would have talked about it.

Do you feel like you’re becoming a better player with every experience?
I do. Sometimes the media can push it where you’re not so good at that game. But I’m on Tour. My goal in life, from the time I was 12 years old, was to get on the PGA Tour and be on TV and have fun. I’ve reached that goal. Now my next goal is to be considered one of the very best players in the game by winning tournaments and making Ryder Cup Teams.

What improvements have you made?
My mental game is better this year. In the past I’ve got frustrated on the golf course a lot because I thought I was better than what my results were showing. This year I’m just trying to go out and play golf and hopefully my results will be better.

How have you adjusted to the new grooves?
It really hasn’t bothered me at all. I think with my high swing speed it’s not going to affect me. When I was growing up we used to catch fliers all the time. So I’m used to it.

You look really skinny. Are you off the cheeseburger diet?
I hired a trainer that travels with me. We work out about an hour a day. I’m actually eating more now. But I haven’t had chocolate or caffeine in three years. I’ve been at 176-178 lbs for the last eight months, it’s just my clothes are fitting differently. I was wearing XXL shirts and now I’m wearing XL, so that gives me a little trimmer look.

You’re known for being a very long driver of the golf ball: You have never ranked worse than second on tour in driving distance.
There are only a few stats that mean anything: the money list and Fedex Cup and Ryder Cup Points and World Ranking. The other stats don’t mean anything because you’re going to have bad putting and driving weeks.

Do you have a swing coach?
I have never had a lesson. I’ll never change from that. I’ll keep playing golf the way I know how to play it and hopefully that will keep me on Tour.

Do you have absolute confidence coming into every season that you’re going to keep your card or do you run scared?
I always run scared. I do fear losing my card but I think that’s a good thing. It gives you a reason to work harder. The first thing I told my caddie when we putted out at the Transitions for a solo third-place finish was that we had locked up my card for next year. I know that it’s blessing to play on Tour, so I don’t take anything for granted.

You moved away from the Pensacola-area where you were raised.
In the winters we’re in Arizona and in North Carolina during the summer months, where we have 10 to 12 friends who live around the Greensboro and High Point area. Also in the summer it’s much easier to travel the Tour from North Carolina than Arizona.

What do you need to do to get into the Masters?
I’m playing the next two weeks at Bay Hill and Houston and a win at either one will definitely get me in. I’m 68th in the world now and a top-3 this week could possibly get me inside the top 50, which would get me in the tournament.

You went back to the University of Georgia to finish your degree after joining the Tour.
How could I tell kids at junior clinics to go to school if I didn’t take it seriously myself? Also if something happens where I can’t play golf anymore, I’ll have a degree that I can fall back on.

You were on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'. How did that happen?
There are some things that I’ve always wanted to do. I watched the show some with friends and I thought it would be cool to be on it. So my trainer and I did some videos of me singing “Happy Birthday” to Ellen. We used Twitter to get the word out and actually Ellen’s dad alerted her to the videos and her producer contacted us. It was an awesome experience.

What famous person do you want to meet?
It would have been cool to meet Michael Jackson back in the day. Now I would say LeBron James. Maybe I should try his pre-game routine of tossing the chalk in the air at a PGA Tour event. The problem is that my crowd is not real big so I don’t know how well it would go over.

You are a big-time Twitterer.
During the week of a tournament it’s hard for me to be nice to fans and really interact with them. So through Twitter fans can talk to me or ask questions. Since the Transitions ended on Sunday I have sent over 250 replies. I’ve sent out more than 19,000 tweets since I started doing it in November.

What kind of questions do you get?
Sometimes people hear stuff on TV that they don’t understand and then they ask me about. On NBC on Sunday they were talking about how much I curve the ball. So some fans tweeted me with: “Why don’t you hit the ball straight?” I said, “If I could hit the ball straight I would, but that’s not how I play golf.” How do you explain that in a tweet that’s only a 140 characters long to people who don’t follow or play the game?

Steve & Barry’s, the discount clothing company that made your Bubba line, went bankrupt in 2008.
It was just bad luck. The Bubba Golf was doing great. I had some pretty nice checks coming in so obviously my stuff was selling. I don’t know what was happing with the other stuff that they were doing.

What do you think about Tiger Woods coming back?
Why wouldn’t you want the greatest person to ever play the game to come back? The Tour needs him. I want him to come back so I can try to beat him. How am I going to be the No. 1 player in the world if I can’t beat the best?

How do you have fun off the golf course?
During the summers I’m playing in the lake. I have a bass boat and two jet skis.

You love fancy cars.
This winter I dumped all my cars — two Mercedes and a lime-green Lamborghini — and now I have all American-made cars. I just felt like I needed to change my image. I’m trying to help the American economy and Detroit. We now have Cadillac Escalades at both our homes.

What’s on your iPod?
“Pants on the Ground” from American Idol.

What’s the last book you read?
I’ve never read a book from cover to cover. But I do read the Bible.

What’s the Bible verse for the golf course?
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13