Bubba's life has changed since Augusta, but he's still the same guy

By Jason SobelMay 29, 2012, 7:07 pm

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.

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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up

 

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.