Saturday 22 October 2016

Bubba Watson: I still get excited by the thrill of the Masters

Bubba Watson of the U.S. participates in the par 3 event with his wife Angie (L) and son Caleb ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta
Bubba Watson of the U.S. participates in the par 3 event with his wife Angie (L) and son Caleb ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta

The thrill of being back at Augusta National makes Masters champion Bubba Watson feel like a kid again as he prepares to launch his bid this week for a third green jacket at the year's opening major.

The American left-hander (right) enjoys a huge comfort factor on the heavily contoured layout where he will also be aiming to join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods as the only players to win consecutive titles.

"It would be an honour and a thrill," Watson, 36, told reporters at Augusta National of the chance to add his name to the Masters record books.

"My game, my love for this place ... just like some of the veterans that we watch around here that keep competing every year, they have a love for this place.

"It's a special place in their heart and their minds, and they get excited about it and they become a kid again and they compete at a high level. That's the same with me."


Asked what made it so difficult for players to win back-to-back Masters, Watson replied: "The media attention, the atmosphere; even a year later, you're excited about your (previous) win.

"Sometimes you get away from your routine or you just use your energy in a different way. That's what I did. So this time I know what to expect. Doesn't mean I'm going to play better, just I know what to expect, I know how to save some energy."

Watson clinched his first Masters in 2012 with a stunning playoff victory over South African Louis Oosthuizen. Last year, he withstood an early challenge from playing partner Jordan Spieth in the final round before completing a three-shot win.

"Well, it's the only course I've won twice at," Watson smiled when asked about his comfort factor at Augusta National where the ability to shape shots from right to left is a prized commodity.

"Seven, one and 18 are the holes that I look at that are difficult for me off the tee. All of the other holes look good to my eye, set up well for me.

"The trees outline the fairway pretty good, so it's easy for me to envision the shot I want to hit. If you add it up, yes, Augusta sets up pretty nicely for me."

Watson hosted the traditional champions dinner at Augusta National this week for a second time as the reigning champion and served up exactly the same southern menu.

"It's the same meal because it's from my mom, a home-cooked meal, and that's why I do it," he said.

Watson won his first green jacket in 2012 and dished up Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast with green beans, mashed potatoes, corn and macaroni cheese, followed by confetti cake and ice cream at the 2013 champions dinner.

But Watson was a silent host that year as he sat back and enjoyed the anecdotes told by former Masters winners.

"My first champions dinner, I was watching these legends talk, heard their stories, I didn't know what to do," the 36-year-old from Bagdad in Florida. "I was like, 'Are you sure I'm supposed to be here?'"

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