Deutsche Bank co-leader Bubba Watson sounds off about PGA Tour pressures

Posted in What's News by on September 3rd, 2011

NORTON, Mass. — To hear Bubba Watson talk about his day job, you might believe the bomber from Bagdad had missed the cut Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship and maybe lost his best friend to boot.

It’s just hard, it’s hard,” a weary-looking Watson told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands following his second round at TPC Boston. “You take a lot of energy, your mental game goes, and I feel tired at the end of the day, I feel like I’m sick, I feel like something’s wrong with me and it’s just all the energy it takes to play on the top level every week.”

Bubba Watson shares the 2nd-round lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship (Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Despite his stream-of-consciousness self-pity party, Watson was not among those packing their steamer trunks for the long trip home. The three-time tour winner actually carded the second-lowest round of the day (a 7-under 64) and headed into Sunday’s third round with a share of the 10-under lead.

So why the sad face for Bubba? It seems that the pressure of playing at the top level of PGA Tour golf is not as easy as it looks on TV — at least not for the 32-year-old Watson, who has had his share of on-course temper tantrums in the past.

More recently, the big-hitting Floridian who won his first of three tour titles just down the road at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., last year, had tried to change his ways. Old habits, however, can be hard to break.

“I’ve just been really angry on the golf course, about like my old days,” said Watson, who talked about the pressures of championship golf and suggested his family life was suffering as well from his former quest “to be the best…to be better than everyone else.”

Watson said he had been taking the wrong mental approach to his career and was working on making some changes, with the help of his wife Angie and caddie Ted Scott.

“I’ve been leaning on them a lot,” Watson said. “We’ve been fighting the both of them, me and my wife have just been trying to figure it out.

“I’ve just been uptight for the last few months, just haven’t really had fun and we’re just trying to change that and hopefully this week changes that,” added Watson, who took a lot of heat for some ill-considered remakrs he made about traveling in France earlier this year.

In the meantime, Watson will continue to learn how to deal with the pressures of instant fame — “a lot more media, a lot more attention, a lot more fans,” he said — that have caused health problems for the six-year tour veteran.

“I thought I was sick a few times, thought I had some energy problems, thought I had something wrong with me, and really it was just — I’m at a different stage of my life, more focused, more mental game, more preparation, all these things, and it just wears on you, and I had to get used to that,” Watson told reporters.

In the next breath, Watson talked about the great time he experienced on his way to a nearly flawless round (a bogey, an eagle, and six birdies) that had him tied for the lead with Adam Scott (who fired the day’s low round of 63) and 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel.

“I’m just out there free-wheeling it, having fun and focused on what I’m doing and not focused on what everybody else is doing,” Watson said. “Not worrying about what the papers are going to say, not worried about what people are going to write about me on Twitter, some people.

“So it’s a learning process,” Watson added, “and the mental part is my biggest struggle.”

Long after Watson signed for his card, hometown hero Keegan Bradley’s week came to an abrupt end. A second-round 76 meant that the PGA champ and Vermont native with friends and family all over New England missed the cut at a FedEx Cup playoff event for the second week in a row.

Bradley said his eventful week — throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park, tossing the coin at a New England Patriots pre-season game, and entertaining a slew of relatives — played no roll in his MC by one stroke.

“A lot of fun to play these last couple days,” Bradley said after his round. “It meant a lot to me.”

Bradley’s mentor, Phil Mickelson, made the cut on the number and will have another two days to tinker with his belly putter.

(Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Check her out on the Waggle Room, Boston Golf Examiner, National Golf Examiner, and GottaGoGolf websites. You may also follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer.)

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