Bubba Watson Ryder Cup Exclusive: “Better Than Any Major”

What ingredients make a good Ryder Cup team?

Good play! If you tell me you’re going to shoot 65 every day, I’d put you on the team. There is no science behind it, it comes down to good golf. We can come up with all these ideas and thoughts, but it comes down to who is playing the best at that moment – it’s not a popularity contest. I don’t think there is a true science – you can study the numbers all day long, but if the player doesn’t make a ten-footer to halve the hole or win the hole then it doesn’t mean anything, does it? That wasn’t a nice way to answer the question but it’s truthful!

Is this shaping up to be the best US Ryder Cup team ever?

It is definitely a good-looking team going into it right now, but that’s on paper and world ranking points don’t mean anything for that one week. World rankings are based on a two-year period. It really comes down to one week – if you miss ten cuts in a row and then you win, everyone thinks you’re playing great. It doesn’t matter how good we look on paper and what we look like on a world-ranking list, it is about making the putts at the right moment. Playing on different grass in a different country makes it a little tougher, but it really comes down to nerves and whoever makes the putts.

What is Bubba Watson like in the team room?

Oh man, I am phenomenal. The best team guy in the world! No, it’s about keeping the guys loose and having fun. It’s just a fun atmosphere so that’s what I try to do – loosen everybody up, don’t think about golf, don’t think about if you won a point or didn’t win a point, just enjoy the moment, enjoy the event and be happy that you qualified for it and you’re there.

Tell us about your Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in 2010…

Man, everyone talks about rookies, but there is no such thing as a rookie because you’ve played on the PGA Tour or the European Tour. It’s not like this is your first event in professional golf. I played with Jeff Overton and we didn’t feel like rookies just because we hadn’t played in that event. We are professional golfers and we qualified for the team. When they put us out first we were pumped about it – two young guys, two wild guys coming out and somehow we competed. I think we won a point, we beat a great team and it was exciting, and then the rain happened right after.

It was a different venue after the rain and we saw the grit and good golf from the Europeans. It comes down to putting in every event and they holed putt after putt. At least I got a point! Starting off in the Ryder Cup, me and another rookie got a point, so it was good. It was a learning experience. Better than any Major, better than any event that you can create. This event, Samuel Ryder dreamed it and many years later it’s still the same, where we’re fighting over a little trophy, we’re not fighting over money.

What is it like to play in front of a Ryder Cup crowd?

It’s funny, I can remember in Wales how, on the first tee, when guys were taking practice swings, the crowds cheered as they swung through. That was my first experience. Football is not the same in the States where you see the big crowds show up and you have chants and pull for your team. Coming to Europe, they have songs for each player and then all we sing is “USA, USA”. You can see the excitement from the other side, from the other fans. It is a fun experience and it’s wild to see and hear that and be able to joke with them. It’s an event we are trying to win, to dominate, but the European crowd gets behind it and you can see the love.

You are one of the few Americans to have played Le Golf National. What will you be reporting back to your teammates?

I played it in 2011 and snuck over there recently and played with some guys. It’s a second-shot golf course. There are going to be a lot of 3-woods, maybe long-irons, off the tee and it comes down to the second shot. You’ve got to be in position because that rough can be pretty tough. We’ve seen year after year the last few holes, how demanding they are. So work on your mid- and long-irons and just stay focused. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

What sort of player do you think you team up with best?

Anybody, because I think I can blend in with anybody personality-wise. You know, no matter who it is, I am going to be over there with them, I’m going to joke with him about what happened the night before in the team room. It calms me down but it also gives me the opportunity to help somebody else, so it really doesn’t matter who the player is. Obviously if we have the number-one player in the world on our team I’d rather play with him! That means he’s playing really well, so I want someone who is playing well covering my back. So I can mess up and still try to win!

How do you prepare going into a Ryder Cup?

It’s the same as for any tournament. The only difference is you have a partner so you want to play with that person to get used to them, to see how they are hitting it. You would also maybe play alternate shot. Just to get used to hitting one shot, sitting off a shot, then hitting another – getting into that mindset. And obviously you work on putting just like you would do at any golf tournament.

What do you think Jim Furyk will be like as a captain?

First off, you’ll probably hear this a lot, this is his favourite event. Gosh, he has played on almost 20 teams including Presidents Cups. This is what he loves and the Ryder Cup is his favourite event, so you see his passion. When you see your captain show passion for the event, win or lose, then you want to play for a guy like that. It spills over to you and you want to fight for him and be there for him and you want to lift that trophy with him.

If you could write the script for the 2018 Ryder Cup, how would it play out?

The winning script would be to win it before Sunday! In recent years we’ve lost on the last day and I was a part of that team [at Medinah in 2012]. I lost the first point for us, but yeah, that would be the best scenario and just take an 18-hole walk around! If you were going to look at storylines for myself, it would be awesome to be the guy who makes a putt to win it.

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