May
29
2012
Bubba’s big-time adjustment
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Bubba at an Orlando Magic game during his time off

After winning the Masters and fulfilling his obligation to play and defend his title at the Zurich Classic, Bubba Watson took a month off from golf to spend time with his family — he and his wife Angie adopted a baby boy in March — and adjust to his new life and fame. With the U.S. Open just around the corner, Bubba is playing the Memorial Tournament.

Fans have missed long-hitting lefty who describes his unconventional style to the game as “Bubba Golf,” so they were a tad overzealous when he arrived. On Tuesday morning Bubba’s presence almost caused a stampede by fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the beloved Masters champ near the clubhouse at Muirfield Village. Apparently, he freaked out (or didn’t take too kindly to the attention) and one autograph-seeker was thrown off the premises for being “too aggressive.”

Watson didn’t touch a club for two-and-one-half weeks and said it’s been a challenge adjusting to life as a member of the rich and fabulous, particularly with having a newborn (understandably so).

“It’s a different tired than we’re used to, having a child,” said Watson in his pre-tourney presser on Tuesday afternoon.  “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.

“You know, it’s just different.  But I got energized as soon as I got here.  I got here Sunday afternoon.  I got energized, looking forward to the challenge of being out here and beating some of the great players, and (Jason) Dufner.  Trying to compete again.  That’s what I’ve been missing.  I miss the game of golf, miss playing, miss competing, miss trying for championships.  So I didn’t play as much as I wanted to basically is what I’m saying.”

Watson, of course, wouldn’t trade winning a major for anything, but fame and success come with greater responsibilities and such — not all of which are fun.

“I’ve got a lot more friends than I used to have,” he said. “I wasn’t very popular before, but now I’ve got a little more popular.

“It’s just everybody ‑‑ not in a mean way, everybody wants something from you.  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.”

So that’s what it must be like to be Tiger Woods, but multiply that by a few thousand!

[*Not done with this post, but gotta jet or my ride is going to leave without me. Will update later.] *Update…

One very, very important thing Bubba hasn’t had to give up or lose: Sleep.

I’ve always liked his wife Angie and thought she seemed like a sweetheart. Well, turns out my gut and impression were right. She deals with the baby when he wakes up crying in the middle of the night.

“Well, with the new technology nowadays, they have these monitors where he’s in a different room and we have this monitor that’s turned up all the way just so we don’t miss a peep, and you can always see him at all times, so we just look over at the monitor,” said Bubba. “My wife is very special because she lets me sleep and she gets up when he is cranky or needs to eat.  So I’ve been able to go to bed around 11:00 or 12:00 and I’ve been waking up around 8:30, 9:00, so she tells me what he did during the middle of the night.  She’s very special.”

I don’t have kids, but I’m starting to have friends who do and I hear the “stories” and all I know is I’m definitely not as special as Angie.

Bubba estimates he has put in three full days of practice in the last month, so he anticipates dealing with some possibly struggling as he gets back in the game, and then, mentally, competitive state of mind. His expectations are realistic (and his candor is refreshing).

“Who knows how I’m going to play because I’m going to be rusty,” said Bubba, whose best finish at Memorial is 23rd in ’07 and ’09. “It’s going to be that way.  I’m going to be down, I’m going to be up, I’m going to be happy, I’m going to be sad.  You’re going to feel the nerves for the first time in basically two months, even though I played that one tournament.

“You’re going to feel nerves that you haven’t felt over a three‑footer.  Right now a three‑footer is easy back at home.  So hopefully I can get over that pretty quick and hit some quality shots.”

 

(Photo by Getty Images/Marc Serota)