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Team Watson renews focus

Turnaround in 2010 is just the starting point

Friday, April 01, 2011

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Bubba Watson lives in the present. He's a "one shot at a time" kind of player who doesn't look ahead.

Bubba Watson analyzes a putt on No. 18 at The Tour Championship, where he finished tied for 17th. The University of Georgia graduate has won twice in the past nine months. Even though he wants more victories, "The truth is I don't see my life ... based on how many wins I get," he said. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

At the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March, Watson was asked whether he would do anything different with his game in the four weeks leading into the Masters Tournament.

"What tournament are we at right now? The Cadillac Championship?" Watson asked. "I'm trying to win right now and I couldn't (care) less about Augusta right now. My mind can't work that way. How am I going to worry about something a month away?"

Watson, a University of Georgia golfer and graduate, has blossomed into a star since his last trip to Augusta National Golf Club, when he finished 42nd in 2009.

In 2010, he claimed his first victory at the Travelers Championship, lost in a sudden-death playoff in the PGA Championship and played in his first Ryder Cup. This year he's already won at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Watson, who used to be known as one of Tiger Woods' dawn patrol practice-round playing partners at tour stops, has two wins to zero for Woods in the past nine months.

Watson, however, is far from satisfied. Just because he has won twice doesn't mean he has reined in his emotions when in contention.

"I haven't learned anything," he said. "I've only closed (won) twice out of however many tournaments I've ever played in my life.

"It's one of those things," he added. "I'm an emotional guy because I love the game of golf. I'm passionate about it. When I cry after I win, it's just because I'm so happy that I did something good in my life. I want to win every week. Just like Tiger Woods said, 'I come to win,' so when I hit bad shots I get mad just like everybody else."

Watson's 2010 season turned around in early June after he failed to make it through a U.S. Open sectional qualifier. Afterward, he had a talk with his caddie, Ted Scott.

"We sat there at a little fast food restaurant or something, and he just looked at me and he said, 'Look, we have to figure this out because I'm not happy, you're not happy; not amongst each other but what's going on,'" Watson remembered.

"He said, 'Our team is not doing the right thing, for some reason, you're just angry,' and so we just sat down and he told me how it was. I was either going to take it or leave it and I said, 'No, I want to do better, I want you to help me.' And I called my wife and said that we need to figure this out. We need to figure out how to get better.

"And then my trainer, he was there. Just the same thing. So my four people -- my three people that I'm with the whole time, we call them Team Watson -- but my trainer and caddie and wife, so us four had a powwow, and it was either I've got to get better or find a new job. So now we have gotten better. It's working so far because this year I missed the cut at Bob Hope and then won the next week."

Not that victories are everything for Watson.

"The truth is I don't see my life or my career based on how many wins I get," he said. "It's great to win. That's my goal every week is to win. Now hopefully I'll win this week and win next week and win the week after, just keep winning, but that's not going to make me a better person or a worse person if I don't win."

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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