Watson knows he has a good thing going

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 07:39 PM

Golf is not Bubba Watson’s No. 1 priority in life.

For a professional golfer, two-time Masters champion, No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings and arguably one of the favorites headed into this week’s U.S. Open in Pinehurst, that might be surprising. But to hear him talk about it and look at his recent record, it’s a mindset seems to be working.

“2014 is about rejoicing, rejoicing in all the blessings that I have in my life,” he said. “Sometimes, I lose perspective of (those blessings) and I lose perspective on how great we have it on the PGA Tour, how great we have it to play golf for a living. And so now this year that’s what I’m trying to do is always look at my son (Caleb) and remember how blessed I am and no matter what I shoot, how great my life is and how blessed I am to live in the U.S., but also to play golf professionally.”

There’s been a lot of rejoicing in the Watson family this year. Bubba captured his second Masters Tournament title in April by three strokes over Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth, that after he won the Northern Trust Open in February. He finished a solo third at The Memorial Tournament two weeks ago and tied for third at the Northwestern Mutual Challenge last December. Add in three more top 10s, and those results have him sitting second in FedEx Cup points.

Plus, he’s got 500-plus fans following his practice round on Monday and a bunch of media wanting to ask him questions on Tuesday. He’s arguably a big star on the PGA Tour.

But that’s not what’s important for Watson. He talked about wanting to “use (his) platform” as a golfer in the spotlight in “the right way.”

“I always want to be a role model for my son,” he said. “And this year wearing the Green Jacket I wanted to inspire as much as I could. And I’m trying to do that the right way with what success I’ve had.”

He specifically mentioned the kids down where he grew up in Bagdad, Fla., and wanting to inspire them to do greater.

“Whatever their endeavors are in life, hopefully I challenged them or I inspired them enough that they want to make a better situation for themselves,” he said.

That being said, he still wants to win golf tournaments, and adding a U.S. Open championship to his mantle wouldn’t be a bad addition. Potential problem this week: other than tying for 5th in 2007, he’s never finished better than a tie for 18th and missed the cut twice.

But Watson feels like he’s adjusted his normally long-hitting, big-swinging game to the tougher driving conditions at No. 2. The key will be play around the greens.

“It’s a second-shot golf course, the greens are so difficult,” he said. “There’s a lot of times I’m going to be laying back. But all-in-all it’s a good challenge, it’s a good test. It’s all about making putts.”

Watson said that he likes his chances of competing here this week by laying back and trying to avoid the native wire grass that populates holes and by focusing more on “finishing” and less on a number.

“I don’t care if I shoot 400 for four days, if I win, I win,” he said. “I don’t care what the score is, total is.”

If Watson is to walk away with another major championship, the key to his success, once again, might be having that right mindset. But playing quality golf doesn’t hurt either.

“Right now I’m just mentally in the right spot in my life and golf is way down the list,” he said. “But when you start putting and making some good shots, golf becomes a little bit easier.”