Bubba Watson is not your conventional PGA Tour player. He has never worked with a swing coach or guru, unless you count his dad, who first introduced him to the game. He has never looked for a sports psychologist to help him with the mental side of the game, which is arguably more crucial than the physical, especially at this elite level. Outside of his caddie Ted Scott and his wife Angie, Bubba has a trainer Andrew Fischer, who travels with him on the road.
Going into Sunday’s final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Watson, who has won three PGA Tour events, admits he still gets nervous.
“I’m not at all (more comfortable being in this position),” said Bubba. “I mean, that’s the challenge. That’s the beauty of it. I play this game because I love it and I love the challenge, and I love trying to get better and better. If anybody says they are not nervous going into Sunday that’s around the lead or close to the lead or has a chance to win, they are just lying to you. Their sports psychologist is telling them to lie to themselves.”
I couldn’t agree more. These days players tell you they’re not nervous and some of them trick themselves to believing it, but I think it’s OK to admit feeling like you’re going to throw up. Just face it and move on.
In fact, I’d say it’s important to recognize that it’s not just “another round of golf.” Playing in the final group or being in contention on Sunday presents a completely different set of circumstances in a very high-pressured atmosphere with a lot of upshot on the line. And the sooner you embrace it, the more prepared you are to face and conquer those factors.
“So I see it as, no, I’m nervous, I’m going out there and I’m trying to beat this golf course,” said Watson. “I’m trying to beat the Blue Monster. I’m trying to man up and play a good score and if I can shoot another good score in the 60s and somebody beats me, they beat me. I go home happy. I can’t be mad about that. If I play the way I should play and I get beat, I just get beat.
“I like a challenge. I like playing and learning it myself. I’m stubborn. I like doing it myself. I love applauding myself. Why would I want to go say thanks to somebody else? I want to do it on my own. I want to play better for me and I want to win because of me and I want to play good because of me; and no, I’ve never seeked out advice of a coach or anything on my swing. I just swing funny and somehow it works.
“You know, but it’s all about personality. It’s all about your mind. Some guys want somebody there. Some guys want somebody there to cheer them up, to keep them going, to tell them that the swing looks good, to help them.
“I just choose not to. There’s other guys that don’t have a swing coach that chases them around everywhere they go, some do. It’s just all about preference, and for me it’s just not having one.”
And there you have it.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)