DUBLIN, Ohio – He was admittedly never a big fan of school, so the good news for Bubba Watson on Tuesday was that an interview session with the media that essentially became a “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay was administered as an oral exam.
And the Masters champion passed with flying colors.
Whereas most professional golfers hold press conferences in which they simply answer whatever questions are being asked, Watson’s have a knack for turning into three-act plays. He laughs, he cries. He pontificates and stumbles. He produces more ebbs and flows than an upside-down roller coaster.
In advance of this week’s Memorial Tournament – just his second PGA Tour start since claiming the green jacket at Augusta National eight weeks ago – Watson was equal parts beaming and teary-eyed while discussing all of the events that have transpired in his life since that major championship victory.
He intimated that’s it’s been an extraordinarily busy time, as he and wife Angie adopted a son, Caleb, in March, though it’s a procedure that isn’t yet finalized.
“You know, it's just a long process with the court systems, the governments, the states, different laws,” Watson said. “We're adopting a child from Florida. Our main residence is in Arizona, so there are just different laws we have to battle with – not 'battle,' but we have to deal with certain laws and do everything the right way, so it takes a lot of time. The situation popped in our life really quick, and we accepted it, and we just haven't been through all the paperwork yet, so now we're just battling through it.”
While that remains foremost among their thoughts over the past few months, Bubba maintained that the adoption process is hardly the only thing keeping them busy.
“A lot of stuff is still going on in my life,” he continued. “The adoption is still not finalized. We're trying to move into a new house. Haven't found the house we want to move into in Orlando, but we've been searching all the time. Seems like we've looked at so many houses. We're trying to sell our other two houses. All these things are going on in our life. Then we won a major championship.
“The kid was more important. Took four years to process, some bad health, some moving states, all these kind of things. A lot of stuff going on in our life, a lot of positive things, nothing bad, a lot of positive. But it's just different changes.”
While competing in just the Zurich Classic since the Masters win, Watson has also spent time in his hometown of Milton, Fla., visiting and celebrating with family and friends.
“It was nice to go home right around Mother's Day,” he said. “My sister hadn't seen Caleb yet. The two nephews hadn't seen Caleb. My close friends, the people I still work with and deal with on a daily basis down there. It was nice to go back. I didn't really pick up on they didn't believe I could do it or think I could do it. It was just fun to be there and celebrate.
“I had a private dinner one night at a location and had about 20 people there, my close friends, and it was good to be back and just tell them that this was for them, Hiram Cook, who gave me my first 9-iron, first time I saw him, gave him a hug and said thank you. It was good to go back and do that and be there with people who supported me through all this time and actually pull the shot off and win the green jacket. It was just about celebrating with them and making sure they knew it was all for them and it wasn't just me winning the jacket, it was them winning, as well.”
With that jacket, Watson has found a greater demand on his time recently.
“Everybody – not in a mean way – everybody wants something from you,” he contended. “’Can you help this? Can you help that?’ You've got to say no. It's not that you're being mean. You've got to have time for yourself, with your wife, with your child. Manager seems like he wants a lot of time, as well.”
How does Bubba counteract such responsibilities? Mostly by remaining at home, where he can control such interaction.
“You can turn your phone off or lock down yourself at Isleworth and nobody can get to you,” he said. “Just spend time with the family, play golf when I want to. It's been a good thing. It's been relaxing, rewarding. It's been fun.”
Ah, yes. Let’s not forget about what elevated Watson to this position in the first place. That would be golf – and while he hasn’t been grinding on the range as much as usual, he has been teeing it up more lately.
“Last month, I took two-and-a-half weeks off exactly, and then hit balls a little bit, played a little bit,” he added. “So I've probably really put in about three days of good, hard practice over the last month the last couple days, not as much as I wanted to, just tired. It's a different tired than we're used to, having a child. A lot of different things going on. My mind works differently, as we know throughout the years, so for me my mind is racing any time you hear noise, any time you hear something.”
All of which leads to a quixotic self-assessment in advance of the Memorial. Though he hasn’t competed much recently, Watson still feels comfortable with his game and is looking forward to a successful week.
“Whoa,” he stated when asked his expectations for this event. “To play all four days hopefully. My expectations are high. Top 25, top 20. My worst finish is 18th, so I want to keep that going. I've had some good finishes lately. My mind has been in the right spot lately, so hopefully I can keep that going. … Sunday afternoon I want to have a chance to win a golf tournament.”
That remains to be seen, but on Tuesday afternoon – in the interview room just off the 18th green here at Muirfield Village – Watson displayed as many emotions and creative responses as he does in a full round of drawing and fading shots from the trees.
It left him with a sterling grade on his oral examination.