PGA professional and two time Masters champion Bubba Watson speaks with the media following an opening round of 67 at the WGC Mexico Championship which is good for second place, 2 shots behind leader Rory McIlroy.
PGA Tour: Bubba Watson talks to the media about playing wit Justin Bieber, superb putting, and the pros and cons of golf at altitude
Q. 4-under par for Bubba. You had that tie for ninth finish in three previous starts here, so you haven’t been great on this golf course, but today you played very well. What made you get to the 4-under-par total?
BUBBA WATSON: I just made some putts today. The only thing that was missing last week when I missed the cut was I didn’t make any putts. The ball just wasn’t going in the hole for some reason. I’ve been hitting the ball great all year after training. I’ve been working on getting fitter, getting stronger so I can hold positions and hit the shots I want to hit. So today I just made putts. The one thing I haven’t done around here is make putts. Around here, one foot means a lot. So you’re chipping or hitting the ball into the green, it can bounce over the green or it can be close to the hole. So around here it’s very difficult. You’ve just got to get your bounces to go your way.
Q. 13 one-putts today, including the last seven holes. When you began the day it was like this; there wasn’t a breath of wind. Then all of a sudden in the middle the breeze kicked up a little bit. How much did that mess with the strategy?
BUBBA WATSON: I’ll go with the first part. Me and Teddy were joking, it seemed like I was one foot off of just about every green. That’s what it felt like today. So I missed a lot of greens, but I was just off the green where I could putt and secure an easy par I guess you would say. But when the wind picked up, it changes because the elevation already messes with your head and what you’re thinking, and then when you talk about into the wind, how much does it affect it, downwind how much does it affect it, so you’re always second-guessing yourself more than back home just because of the elevation, so that’s what makes it so difficult. And that’s what the scores are showing. Sometimes par is great around here when you’re second-guessing the wind and the elevation.
Q. If you look at your record around here, you’ve had some pretty decent results. Do you like playing at elevation? Is this fun golf for you?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, what my psychologist would say would be yes, I love it here. I don’t have a psychologist, but if I did, that’s what they would say.
No, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s fun. When we talk about four days of golf, me and you hit a shot and we land a foot apart, one is going to bounce, one doesn’t, and it’s just about getting the bounces to go your way, the putt to go your way, and today I made some putts. I missed a couple greens just off the green, so it looks like I missed a lot of greens today, but I putted the ball nicely. LA last week I didn’t putt it very nicely. I stroked it well but I just didn’t make any putts, so I missed the cut.
I know my ball-striking is where I want it to be. My mind is where I want it to be and everything. Coming here, I was just hoping I’d get the right bounces and the right breaks. I know I can play around here if I stay committed to all the shots, and today I did that.
Q. Did you get into the right frame of mind Saturday playing with Justin Bieber?
BUBBA WATSON: Oh, man. You know, he’s my mental coach, my psychologist I was talking about. (Laughter.)
You know, it’s — life sometimes throws you curve balls. I’ve had some ups and downs over the last five years in my personal life, in my mind, and I’ve reached out to some guys, and I’ve also helped some guys, and so missing the cut — think about it, I could be very disappointed because that golf course I love. I mean, I’ve won it three times in LA, and I can’t hit the ball any better. For two rounds I was 13th in greens in regulation, and I think I beat two people in putting for two rounds. So I was like 118 in putting.
I was very disappointed, but at the same time, you’ve got to live life, and so I called my buddy and called a couple buddies and we got together and played some golf and freed it up and just had some fun and realized I was in a good frame of mind and where my life is with my beautiful wife and my beautiful kids; who cares about missing a cut really. We’ve got other things to worry about, a different tour coming on and all these things.
Q. Where was that round, and was it Saturday?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it was at Lakeside. Lakeside is one of my favorite golf courses right there in LA right outside of Warner Brothers studio, any chance I get to play there. I’m honored with, I guess, a complimentary membership, so any chance I get a chance to stop by there, I stop by there and play and hang out with the boys.
Q. How many complimentary memberships do you have?
BUBBA WATSON: I’ve got a few. And there’s a couple I pay for.
Q. A couple?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, there’s a couple that make me pay, but yeah, it’s all good. It’s worth it.
Q. Guys were saying because of the thin air the ball doesn’t seem to turn as much. It seems to me you’re a player that likes to see the ball move in different directions. Do you like that or is that a challenge?
BUBBA WATSON: It’s a challenge because I’m used to starting a ball or trying to start a ball one way and getting it to curve back, that’s the challenge. Here I have to do different eyesights and trust it. And that’s why around here, I have the ability just like all these guys have the ability, it comes down to trusting it, that your ball is not going to curve as much or it’s going to do a little different. Today the gusty winds made the course a lot tougher than we’re used to because we haven’t really seen this over the past couple years.
It comes down to trust for me, and yeah, I want to be able to move the ball, but at the same time, I’ve got to go with what the ball is doing, and in this elevation the ball hasn’t really moved that much. I’ve got to talk to Bryson about air density and stuff like that.
Q. Was the tee shot at 1 an example of that, that you expected it to curve a little bit more?
BUBBA WATSON: Yes, but at the same time, at 1, you want to miss it — I want to miss it to the right a little bit because of those bunkers. They just dump sand in these, these bunkers. These are the toughest bunkers I’ve ever seen because there’s so much sand in them and I knew how difficult it was going to be if you hit it in those bunkers. Louis landed in the bunker and it only moved a couple inches and he had a ridiculous chance to get up-and-down.
Q. Do you think patience will be the key for the next rounds? Or what will be the key?
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, the key is always patience. That’s the beauty of what Tiger Woods has able to do, McIlroy has been able to do. It comes down to patience. When you have patience and trust in yourself and your ability, that’s when you can play good golf. I mean, all these guys at this field, at this event can play the game of golf, but it comes down to who’s got the most patience and the freed-up mind and mental attitude.
Q. What is the thing you most enjoy about playing here in Mexico?
BUBBA WATSON: What I like most about playing here? The ball goes forever. Even though I’m getting older, the ball still travels a long way, so it’s always fun, and it changes it up. It changes up our routine of having the straightforward shot. Now we have to do some math and try to guess right on the numbers and pull the shots off.
Mexico City, Mexico
February 20, 2020
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports