Bubba Watson back at UGA after second PGA victory of year

Bubba Watson, who won $1.1 million at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans on Sunday, warms up with Matthew Stafford on Monday before playing in a celebrity event for the Stadion Classic at UGA. (Photo from Stadion Classic)

Bubba Watson, who won $1.1 million at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans on Sunday, warms up with Matthew Stafford on Monday before playing in a celebrity event for the Stadion Classic at UGA. (Photo from Stadion Classic)

Q&A WITH BUBBA WATSON

What a stroke of good fortune for the Stadion Classic at UGA golf tournament. For months, they had Bubba Watson lined up to be the honorary chairman of this year’s annual Nationwide Tour event at the UGA Golf Course. It just so happened Watson arrives as the hottest American golfer and a top 10 player in the world.

Watson, who played college golf at Georgia, hit a 7-iron 210 yards out of a fairway bunker to the reach the par-5 18th hole in two and two-putt for a victory over Webb Simpson in a sudden-death playoff at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans on Sunday. It was the second victory of the year for Watson and third in his last 19 tournaments over 11 months.

Less than 24 hours later Watson was in Athens to donate $50,000 of his Ryder Cup money to start a chapter of the PGA Golf America University at UGA. I caught up with Bubba on Monday morning before he teed off in the Stadion’s celebrity tourney:

Q: So after not having a win in 121 PGA Tournaments, you’ve had three in the last 19 tournaments. How do you explain that?

A. “It’s just wild, with what all my family went through with my Dad having cancer and passing away. It was remarkable to win where he could see me in the Ryder Cup. I won again somehow, and now my Mom got to see me win this one. It’s been a ride; it’s been crazy.

Q: How has all this success affected you?

A: “So much stuff has happened, so much more media attention. I haven’t gotten over my first win; I haven’t gotten over my Dad passing. There’s just been a lot of stuff in a short period of time. I’m not mad at it; I love the attention. . . . But it’s just a little overwhelming for a small-town guy like myself.”

Q: It would seem winning once makes it easier to win the next time. Is that the case?

A: “No, it’s just as hard. This week, I win. I want to win in Charlotte. But I’ll be nervous. If I have a chance to win, I’ll be just as nervous. The [previous] two tournaments [before Zurich] I shot 78 at Bay Hill and The Masters in the final round. There’s no difference in those two days, yesterday it just worked out in my favor.”

Q: What’s more difficult for you, the mental part of the game or physically trying to get a ball to go where you want it to?

A: “It’s always mental with me. The physical game, I think I have the skills to play. But the mental part is the hard part for me, to stay focused on what I’m doing. These last 11 months it’s come together.”

Q: What about being asked to be honorary co-chairman (along with fellow UGA alum Chip Beck) of the Stadion Classic?

A: “It’s an honor and blessing it be a part of this tournament. For me to be honored in that way, that they want me to be a part of it, when they ask you to do something like that, it’s an honor. It’s a dream come true to be a part of it. For me to graduate here, it’s even more special.”

Q: After a long period away from UGA, you came back to complete your degree in consumer economics and kind of rekindle your relationship with the school. What prompted you to do that?

A: “When I came back and graduated in 2008, it was for the kids. I have two junior tournaments and I wanted to prove that if you work hard, if you don’t make it in professional golf, I got my education. It’s a big honor, a big deal to graduate from here.”

Q: It’s well-documented that you did not have a very successful college golf career at Georgia (one win at Schenkel as junior, no tournaments as senior). What about your college golf experience at UGA?

A: “The college golf part sucked. I didn’t play that good. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to play. But college itself was a great learning experience. I met my wife [the former Angie Ball] here, and she keeps me going in the right direction.

“That I graduated, that’s the ultimate goal. Normally people are doctors after that many years. But I finally graduated and I proved that you can do it. Learning experiences, I finally got married, now I’m providing for your family. I’m still goofy as ever.”

Q: What has becoming a world-renowned golfer meant to you personally?

A: “Golf is nothing. Hugging my mom was the most important thing. Hugging my wife is equally important. [Golf is] something I want to do. I just want to win. I don’t care if it’s for money; I don’t care if it’s for a trophy. I just want to beat whoever I’m playing. I want to beat whoever I’m playing here today. That’s the competitive fire that’s in me. But it doesn’t define my career.

“My tombstone hopefully won’t have how many wins and losses I have. Wins are great; I’m trying to win every week. But after it’s done, that’s not what life is not about.”

28 comments Add your comment

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Finley Dawg

May 2nd, 2011
2:38 pm

“First” class Dawg, Bubba!!!

Maconbulldog

May 2nd, 2011
2:47 pm

Chip I enjoy you getting the stories and up to date post that you make. I enjoyed your work while you followed the high school recurits as well.

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SouthSide Dawg

May 2nd, 2011
3:00 pm

Way to go, Bubba!

BYRDDAWG

May 2nd, 2011
3:08 pm

WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!!

Buckeye

May 2nd, 2011
3:41 pm

Someone let Stafford knows the hat on backwards look is sooooooooooooo Roethlisburger. He looks like a redneck. I know he grew up in an affluent hood in Dallas so the redneck must have rubbe off in Athens.

juvenal

May 2nd, 2011
3:45 pm

sounds like a solid young man(more interesting is it does not appear to be a dawg hat)…..

Frank Lane

May 2nd, 2011
3:47 pm

Bubba sounds like a well grounded guy like a well grounded club.

Frank Lane

Carlton Powell

May 2nd, 2011
4:08 pm

No doubt, if Bubba continues to win, he could well be the Arnold Palmer of his generation. He reminds me a lot of a young Palmer; unorthodox swing, “go for it” attitude towards the game, etc. If he can master the emotional part of the game, the sky’s the limit.

Beast from the East

May 2nd, 2011
4:54 pm

Einsteindawg

May 2nd, 2011
5:02 pm

Allright Bubba! Thanks for representing our university so well and with such class. Stafford looks like a punk with his cap turned around, while Bubba looks like an athlete. Can you imagine an offensive lineman calling holding on himself or a basketball player telling the refs that he walked?

driverate

May 2nd, 2011
5:29 pm

Here some pictures from the day, check out AJ Green’s follow-through
http://www.redandblack.com/2011/05/02/photo-gallery-bubba-matthew-and-a-j-on-the-range/

Big Al

May 2nd, 2011
5:37 pm

There are few times when I pull for a Dawg. I like Bubba and hope he has great success on the PGA Tour. Will be pulling for him down the road.

ClinchCountyDawg

May 2nd, 2011
5:48 pm

Buckeye

I am just glad he is not wearing a cute wittle vest. Hopefully that is a fashion trend that will travel outside of Ohio and 1950’s TV reruns.

6 for 6 with 3 home runs

May 2nd, 2011
7:55 pm

Buckeye: Staff doesn’t cheat like your boy Tressel that’s why you don’t like him.

tenn.DAWG

May 2nd, 2011
8:19 pm

Very classy guy.He’s the the type of person you would hope your son looks up to and your daughter would want to marry.Hope this is the beginning for him.

GT Grad

May 2nd, 2011
9:10 pm

I hate rooting for a dog, but I really like Bubba. He’s really fun to watch.

AJ Green is already twice the professional that Stafford is. Way to dress Matthew; does a lot for your image.

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Crafty

May 2nd, 2011
10:39 pm

Umm, hmm…where to begin. I hate to be that guy, but Bubba may not be the “classy”guy you sudden(read UGA) fans seem to believe. First of all, who nearly comes to blows with Steve Elkington, one of the all time good guys on tour? Bubba. Secondly, I caddied at the Mayakoba in ‘08. The word on Bubba was arrogant, petulent(thinks his **** doesn’t smell). I sat right next to him in the airport Friday afternoon after we both missed the cut. An hour went by without one word.
Third, the two guys on tour who look to blame missed putts on anything but themselves(always annoying) – Bubba and Sabbatini.

Crafty

May 2nd, 2011
10:46 pm

Having said that, as a true golf fan, who cares? He is extremely entertaining to watch. He hits shots that no one else has and plays courses a totally different way. Why he doesn’t get sharper from 20-80 yds is curious because that’s the number he’s facing into half the greens, but if he tightens that up, there’s no reason he couldn’t win 20 and 3-5 majors.

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