CHICAGO, Illinois (AFP) –
Masters champion Bubba Watson is expecting an emotional roller-coaster ride and says the tears he shed at Tuesday’s captains dinner probably won’t be his last during Ryder Cup week.
The 33-year-old from Bagdad, Florida is a patriot at heart especially when it comes to representing the United States at the Ryder Cup.
“Well, it’s the United States flag,” Watson said.
“I’m probably going to cry at some point this week because I just cry every week it seems like.
“So there’s going to be good shots I’m going to cry about, there’s going to be bad shots I cry about, and hopefully I do everything in a respectful way.
“No player out here from either team is trying to disrespect anybody, it’s just for the love of that little trophy that we want to win and we want to win for our countries.”
Watson is the type who wears his heart on his sleeve. And he admits it is going to be difficult to keep his emotions in check this week, especially when he thinks about his father who passed away in 2010 a couple of weeks after that year’s Ryder Cup following a courageous battle with throat cancer.
“The last time my dad watched me play golf was in the Ryder Cup two years ago,” Watson said following his practice round on Thursday. “So I am looking forward to it. I want to win this and honour my dad who’s not here anymore. So there’s a lot of things going on in my head that are normally not going on.”
Watson lost a play-off to Martin Kaymer at the 2010 PGA Championship before capturing his first major at this April’s Masters. His recovery from the trees in a sudden death playoff is arguably the shot of the year.
Watson says he plans to feed off the super-charged atmosphere this week and the chants of “USA” from the partisan galleries. But he won’t let it overwhelm him.
“This is my first time in the US with the crowd behind me, so I’ll probably get really excited,” he said. “I will need to just slow down, walk slower, do a lot of things slower, just so I can get back to some kind of normalcy.
“I’ve got to just calm myself down and just be focused on one shot at a time.”
Watson is friends with some of the European players but that doesn’t mean he is going to go easy on them once the first ball is struck on Friday.
There have been some strong words this week from both sides in the build up to the Ryder Cup, but Watson said people shouldn’t confuse the competitive spirit of a professional athlete with over-the-top patriotism.
“It’s just that trophy,” Watson said. “It’s funny, it’s just that little trophy we want to win so bad. So it’s really not a dislike for the other team.
“It’s just a dislike for any opponent, no matter who the opponent is.
“It’s just like the FedEx (Cup). We were mad at (Brandt) Snedeker because he won, and I wanted to win it. But now I’m pulling for that guy. It’s funny.
“For me it’s the one chance I get to represent our country and hopefully represent our country well.
“So the passion just comes from that; all the people that pull for me, cheer for me; even if people that don’t like me in the US, now they cheer for me in this one event.”
Watson said the US team has tried to stay loose this week by playing table tennis. Some of the contests can get pretty intense, especially when Watson squares off against fellow lefty Phil Mickelson, who despises losing to anyone.
“He hates any time I beat him because I am just this goofy left-handed kid named Bubba.
“So anytime I can beat Phil Mickelson I like to rub it in his face. So on that one, I do disrespect my teammates when it comes to ping pong.”