Feb
5
2016
Bubba backtracks and apologizes at Phoenix Open
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Over the years, Bubba Watson has had a well-documented habit of putting his foot in his mouth. Earlier this week in his pre-tournament presser at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the two-time Masters champion said he didn’t like the golf course (TPC Scottsdale) and he was only playing in the event “because of my sponsors.

Following his second straight two-under 69 Friday, Watson, who happens to have an excellent record at this venue, apologized for his comments.

“I used the wrong words,” he said. “I have nothing against the fans and the tournament. The fans have been great. I love coming here. I’ve lived here every winter for eight years. This is a beautiful place. And the reason why I’m here is because of the excitement around this golf tournament. The fans have been great.

“I used words that I shouldn’t have used. I didn’t explain myself well. My wife says that too when I go home. I don’t communicate very well.”

Well, yeah, we’ve noticed that, too. Watson made certain to emphasize that his critiques were not about the fans at the Phoenix Open; rather his dislike of the course, particularly the changes made last year.

“It was about the golf course,” said Watson. “I’m not a fan of the golf course. I have said that for the — this will make 10 years. But I’m here because of the excitement. How would you not be here to support the tournament that brings out the most people? Out of any tournament we play around the world, this brings out the most people that we ever see at a golf tournament. So how would I not be here?…”

“I have been here every year since because of the fan support, because of the sponsor, Waste Management, what they’re trying to do and what they’ve created. Just like I said, if you read my transcript from a couple of days ago, my heart was in the right place. I just used the wrong words. Just like my wife says at home. I need to be better at home and I guess here.”

From the little I saw, the fans were pretty brutal to Watson out there Friday morning. Here’s Exhibit A (warning: R-rated language). Apparently, the crowd had all sorts of nasty things to yell at Bubba all day, according to people in his group, but to his credit, he handled it well.

On the par-3 16th, where fans are known to be particularly cruel when warranted (usually), Bubba has been greeted with a mix of boos, cheers and colorful language. He handed out freebies to the gallery this morning, which won him some favor — albeit short-lived since he three-putted the hole.

Bubba tried to downplay the animosity from the rowdy crowds.

“When you hit a bad shot, they are rough with everybody,” said Watson. “I three-putted. They were rough then too. But I gave out free socks, so they love me again. That’s why I bring the stuff, so they all love me no matter how I hit it.”