• Interview

Bubba Watson on how the Masters changes a man

April 6, 2013

ESPN will be providing live commentary during all four days of the Masters from Augusta National - along with all the news, views and opinion when it gets underway on Thursday.

Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, isn't shy about saying where golf ranks in his life: "It's probably around fourth or fifth."

Watson, who next week is set to embark on defending his golf crown in Augusta, Georgia, sat down for an exclusive interview about golf, his faith and his family.

He was in New York this week to promote his Oakley clothes for Masters week and his new Oakley hovercraft.

When was the last time you wore the ceremonial green jacket?

"Last week I was in Augusta having dinner with friends at the club. All members must wear their jacket, and all past champions are asked to wear the jacket. I felt kind of funny in it. I always have a champion's locker, and the green jacket is always there. Someone asked me how did it fit the first time I tried it on. I said, 'It doesn't matter how it fits. I just wanted it.'"

If golf is fourth or fifth, what is No. 1?

"Faith is No. 1. My wife, Angie, and I were baptised in 2004. We regularly attend church. I've been speaking about religion the past couple of years, even before winning. I believe you have to love everybody. I think all this is a learning process. The more I talk about it, the more I learn. In my heart and in my mind, it's not really preaching. I just keep talking because I don't want to slip.

"So many athletes today are doing wrong things. The more I talk and do the right thing, the more I'll stay on the right path. It's always a reminder for me."

Having a family was a big deal, as you adopted your son, Caleb, before the Masters last year. What has he meant to you?

"He means everything. I knew that my wife and I couldn't have kids on our own. We knew that when we first dated. When we got married, we wanted to find a way to have a kid. Adoption was our best option. Every winter something has happened to us. We moved. My dad got sick. My dad passed away. And finally, a winter ago we were going through the adoption process. So, you could say it's taken four years to adopt. We got Caleb. And a week later I won the Masters. The green jacket has been important, helping my career and my family and helping fund college for Caleb later in life. But each day and each week that I talk about the past year, it's something else I can show Caleb when he gets older."

You really seem at peace these days.

"Everything is coming together the right way. If I never become No. 1 in the world, I'm OK with that. I'm just going to give it my best effort. In 2007-08, I had these so-called anger issues. But I learned over the past few years that there is more to life than being No. 1 in the world at golf. I'm getting to do charity, like some programs I'm doing with Oakley. I'm getting to be a role model. If I could help change one kid's life, I've done my part."

In the Golf Boys videos, you guys are having a lot of fun. How are today's golfers different than previous generations? Are you closer?

"Media is so different than in years past. And social media is everywhere. We all have the same goal. Ben [Crane], Hunter [Mahan], Rickie [Fowler] and I all want to do charity work. For us, to come together and do something silly and make fun of ourselves, it was great. We wanted to show our personalities in a different light. You see us on a golf course and we look kind of boring. We're so focused. We all have goals of winning golf tournaments. Rickie stayed at my house at Bay Hill during the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he was playing pretty good. We were pulling for him against Tiger Woods in the final group. In a lot of sports, you don't have guys pulling for each other. People get jealous and frustrated. We're all friends. We hang together. If you beat me, I'm not mad. I don't hate you or dislike you."

You moved into Tiger's old house at Isleworth. You're in New York for these events, Oakley clothes and hovercraft, and you have the Masters next week. How do you juggle it all?

"I moved in about two weeks ago. I was at Augusta last week, New York this week and back to Augusta next week. I have a great team around me and they are all Christians, and we all have the same beliefs. My wife is a professional athlete, so she knows what I go through mentally and physically. She'll let me rest and get my energy level back to where it's needed. I know I need to stay focused for my golf. Without golf being as good as it is, you'd be saying, who is this guy?"

What's ahead for you?

"I'm always thinking. Golf is high on the list right now, mostly because it gives to avenues to do other things. I want to design clothes. I can't sit still very long. Who wouldn't want to be in a movie or a TV show? I want to watch my son play sports. I want to take some different adventures in my life."

But first comes the Masters and the champions dinner Tuesday night. Is that still a secret?

"I told them back in November what I wanted. I couldn't name all of it today. I took about 30 seconds to come up with it. I went with what I wanted. I couldn't care less about what everyone else thought of it! I know there will be a lot of emotions next week. I know what it takes to win. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"It goes back to this: If you believe in yourself and not doing anything wrong in your heart, you should be fine."

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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