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Bubba Reflects on 2013 Masters
It'll be highly unlikely Bubba Watson will repeat as the Masters champion. Though the 34-year-old from Bagdad, Fla., carded a respectable 2-under 70 Saturday, the long-hitting lefty got behind the 8-ball after opening with rounds of 75 and 73 and has had to play catch-up ever since.
He stands at 2-over 218, nine strokes behind co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. Last year, Watson overcame a three-stroke deficit entering the final round to tie Louis Oosthuizen in regulation, then won on the second sudden-death playoff hole with a wedge shot out of the pine trees that will forever be part of Masters lore.
Following his third round, Watson met with reporters and talked about his week. Besides discussing his experience as the defending champion, he detailed his thoughts concerning the caller who notified officials about a possible violation that Tiger Woods made during Friday's second round when he made an improper ball drop after hitting his third shot into the water on the par-5 15th. Tournament officials assessed Woods, a four-time green jacket winner, a two-stroke penalty Saturday morning before the start of the third round.
"I don't even know how these people get a number to call," said the folksy Floridian. "Obviously they've got more time on their hands than I do. I don't know the number and I'm playing in the golf tournament.
"Nobody calls in during a basketball game or a football game . . . They're definitely not calling balls and strikes during a baseball game. Maybe it's because our sport is so slow, they have time to call in."
Watson also observed: "A high-profile player has the camera on him all the time. Like me today, there were no cameras on me today. Everybody could care less what I was doing. They were worried about what Tiger was doing."
Here's what else he had to say Saturday afternoon to reporters.
Q. You had it going early.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it's just like the other two days, the other two days I played pretty solid and just had 3 putts. Today I don't think I had a three-putt, but bad swings, just like yesterday, at the wrong time. Number 11, it comes off those slopes, right into the water, just like I did yesterday, just like I did today. I didn't like my club, I tried to make myself like it on 13, so it cost me another bogey. But all in all it was a good day. I got to shoot under par, just to try to move up the leaderboard a little bit. I had to shoot a real low one tomorrow to have a chance, but come out tomorrow and just enjoy the walk as my last day as defending champ and try to shoot a decent number tomorrow.
Q. How did you like the 3:20 round as opposed to the 6 hour round?
BUBBA WATSON: Who wouldn't like that? The best part about it though was Knox, University of Georgia alum, met him about 10, 12 years ago. So, no, it was fun. It was fun hanging out with him and just enjoying the day.
Q. At some point were you thinking that Tiger was not going to be in the field and you would be paired with somebody else and what was that like this morning?
BUBBA WATSON: It was. Again, I was playing, trying to play, so I don't know what happened. I don't know the I know he's got a two shot penalty. That's all we heard. So I don't know anything else besides that. But, yeah, I thought he was going to be disqualified is what I heard from the Golf Channel, that's what I was figuring. But, you know, all information could be wrong on that media outlet there. (Laughter.)
Q. How do you feel about that? Do you think, knowing what you know, do you think he should have been disqualified?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, that's the thing, I don't know anything. Obviously the people here at Augusta, people here at the Masters are not going to make a bad decision, so whatever their decision is, is what we're going to stick with. So I don't know the details, again, like I said, what I heard on the Golf Channel, was one thing, but I don't know what the final ruling was. So obviously he didn't get disqualified, so if that's their decision, that's their decision. Rules are rules, so.
Q. Have you ever encountered a ruling like that previously where there was a drop?
BUBBA WATSON: Personally, no, because I don't know the rule book, because I always call in the rules official. So it's just, for me, I've never been in that situation. So I've always called in the rules official, just like today on 11 I called in the rules official, even though the ball drop was there. So I just made sure everything went right.
Q. How do you feel about putting today? Did you feel like it was a little bit you, a little bit the greens?
BUBBA WATSON: The greens are a little faster. That's the nicest way I can say it. They're a little faster today, they're different than yesterday. So I putted a little bit better. I got the balls to the hole today.
Q. You started out with three straight birdies, were you thinking - you said that it was possible to get back in this, were you thinking at that point that, hey, this is doable?
BUBBA WATSON: When I started that's my goal, my goal was to get back in this. I started off with a great tee shot, hit a wedge in there, made birdie. I had some great pars right there in the middle of the round, and then just one bad swing got the momentum going the other way. So just like in any sport, when you get the momentum going the other way, it seems like everything's against you.
So on the holes coming down the stretch I missed the, I missed 14 one foot off the fairway, so it makes it tough to get the ball close from the rough. 17, I was six inches in the rough, made it tough to get close. And those were wedges in my hand. So when you miss fairways just by a foot here, it makes it tough to get it close. So just momentum, it seemed like after number 11 the momentum just went the other way.
Q. Was it more your drives that you're critical for of yourself of on 11 or your second shot?
BUBBA WATSON: No, you're going to hit bad tee shots. But, no, I had a shot, over cut it, and I knew as soon as I hit it where it was going, it was going to go off those, I don't even know what you call those, humps in the middle of the fairway? I don't know what they're called. So I just, I knew it as soon as I hit it, I even told my caddie, I said, oh, that's in the water. I knew where it was going, it was going to come off those slopes and go right in the water and that's what it did.
Q. Did you call the rules official to find out what your options were or what was the discussion?
BUBBA WATSON: Well there, because of the way it went in the water and the pin was so far in the back of the green that I could take a different line. So the ball drop was actually about 10 feet over, so I was 10 feet to the right of the ball drop, because of the way the line went in and because of where the pin was. So I asked him, because he's the one that saw where it crossed, so he told me where it crossed. And once the rules official tells you a rule, that's law. So even if he makes a bad ruling, it's still law. So that's what I went with. That's why I always call in the rules official to tell me the right rule or his own interpretation of the rule.
Q. You were more inclined today because of what happened to Tiger?
BUBBA WATSON: No, no.
Q. Or do you do it anyway?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I do it anyway. Even if I'm on a cart path I make sure I get a rules official over there, just to make sure I don't do anything wrong.
Q. Tiger's basically saved by that new rule added that protects the players when a viewer calls in after they signed the scorecard.
BUBBA WATSON: There you go.
Q. Exactly. So how do you feel about this new rule that's added that protects the players, because for awhile that was happening where viewers would call in and you would be disqualified after the fact. So that's why he wasn't disqualified because of this new rule that was added.
BUBBA WATSON: Well it's a great rule. Because, first of all I don't even I, personally, if I see somebody do a rules infraction, I don't know which number to call. So I don't even know how these people get a number to call. And obviously they got more time on their hands than I do, because I don't know the number and I'm playing in the golf tournament. So I think the rule is great. Because it should protect us. The sad thing is the high profile player gets the camera on him at all times. A guy could break a rule and not know he broke the rule.
Like me today, there's no cameras on me today, everybody could care less what I was doing. So there were and everybody was worried about what Tiger was doing. So there's no cameras on me. I could have broke a rule, not knowing I broke a rule, not trying to break a rule, and then somebody could call in or say this or say that. But I can get away with it today, because I don't have a camera on me. So when somebody calls in like that, yeah, it shouldn't be that way, it shouldn't be allowed. Nobody calls in during the a basketball game or a football game.
Q. Bubba, do you understand that the fact that someone actually did call in saved Tiger today?
BUBBA WATSON: Right, which is, which is weird.
Q. Your expectations, when you make a rules violation, find out about it after you signed your scorecard, your expectations are that you're going to be disqualified from the tournament or what are your expectations?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, again, I mean it's just, I mean again it's a weird situation.
Q. I'm talking about you. If you make a violation and you sign a scorecard that's incorrect, are your expectations after the fact that you're going to be disqualified?
BUBBA WATSON: But again you're not letting me finish my answer. My answer is it's the situation that's arose. The situation was, he didn't think he did anything wrong, he signed a scorecard and went home. Somebody called in, a gentleman or a lady called in, and so when he woke up this morning, he probably didn't think about it. He woke up this morning, he got a phone call. I've had a phone call from the U.S. Open before, so I know what those phone calls feel like. So what I'm getting at is the situation. If it was, if it wasn't called in and it came up because of a rules official saw the replay or something and he's the one that did it, then, yeah, the situation is DQ. So you don't know about the situation that's what I'm saying you're asking a question you can't answer the right way. Because here's my reasoning. Here's my rebuttal to this.
I got a call in the U.S. Open in 2007 at 8 in the morning. I didn't tee off until the last group of the day. They said, "Bubba, you said you double hit it on camera." And I said, "No, I did not double hit it. I didn't say that. I said I could have double hit it. I said you have to go back and listen to the tape. And I went right under it." And I made a triple bogey on the hole. And they said, so you did not double hit it? And I said, no, you can watch the tape. And we watched it and then I went back to sleep, because the ruling was I was right, whoever called in was wrong. Because it was a call in. So they called me at 8 in the morning and I didn't tee off until 3. So again the situation made it look like I did something wrong, but I didn't. So people calling in are making us look bad. But this one obviously, yes, it saved somebody or if nobody would have called in, nobody would have ever thought about, nobody would have ever gave it a second thought.
Q. Do you think it's unfair that he's on television all the time so every one of his shots is shown?
BUBBA WATSON: No, he's the greatest. I mean, he should be on television all the time.
Q. I mean, they call in his infractions because he's on camera all the time.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, again, like I just told him, in 2007 I got a call in on me and nobody probably knows about it - but at Torrey Pines, when I won at Torrey Pines in 2011, somebody called in the Monday after and they tried to say that I did something wrong. But the rules official said, no, you didn't. So, I mean, when you're in the high profile situations, you're having a chance to win the Masters, you're going to get cameras all over you. So I think it's just one of those things. He's a high profile player, everybody wants to see him play. If you like him or don't like him, you still want to see him play. And so it's just one of those things. But it was one of those things where he took a drop that he felt was right. He wasn't trying to cheat anybody. He thought it was right. And unfortunate for him that he got a two shot penalty. But fortunate for him that he's still playing.
Q. Your problem at 11, I mean, seriously, you win the tournament and the next day you're getting a call, what's going through your mind?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, when it's going through my mind then it's, how did I cheat? And so we, the rules officials did all the research, they did everything they could do, and they asked me about it and they said I did nothing wrong. But, yeah, because, again, I don't know how to get this number. I'm going to start just calling in. Somebody calling in a number, I'm just going to call it in.
Q. Somebody who doesn't like you or who likes whoever can call in.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. You can make it and you can put bad press on somebody. And that's all it takes is one person to say something and bad press gets on you, even though you did nothing wrong.
Q. What did they say?
BUBBA WATSON: They said that I improved my lie on 17 behind the green when I never grounded my club, they said I did. And again, it's probably just somebody that hates Bubba Watson. I mean, it's just one of those things.
Q. In 2007 you remember, surely, middle of the tournament and you get that call.
BUBBA WATSON: Right, I got it, it was roughly a Friday, I think. So, yeah.
Q. Was it hard to kind of put that out of your mind going forward, do you remember, or did it affect you?
BUBBA WATSON: The only advantage I had there is that they called me at like, I mean, I think it was like 7:30 in the morning, I was sleeping, my wife picked up the phone. They called me. And I didn't tee off until 3, roughly, 2:30, 3, so I had enough time to get rid of it. Because I lose my train of thought anyway, so I got lucky. If it would have been like, like if I teed off at 9? It would probably, it would probably make it a lot tougher. But I had all day to kind of get rid of it and squash it.
Q. Going back to today, how scoreable is the course out there today?
BUBBA WATSON: I would say it's about 5 under. Somebody can shoot easily 5 under today. Especially playing good. I think it's going to be tough for somebody to get to 7 under, just because of some of the pins coming in, the wind direction. But I could see, obviously the leaders and stuff shooting around 2 under, 3 under, if I can shoot 2 under, they can shoot 3 under.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.