Bubba has clubs, will travel around the world
SHANGHAI (AP) — Bubba Watson is in China this week, Japan next week, and there’s one more stop in Thailand before the year is over.
Golf is more global than ever, and the two-time Masters champion wants to be part of it.
“I wanted to win outside the U.S.,” Watson said Wednesday on the eve of his title defense in the HSBC Champions. “And after getting a taste of victory outside the U.S. here last year, I want to do that again. I’m going to try to do it again.”
Watson was portrayed as an uncultured American four years ago when he went to France and didn’t have the best week, which included comments about historic sites without knowing what they were.
But he’s getting the hang of it.
“Getting better as a golfer, as a person, I want to try different cultures and learn different golf courses in different areas of the world,” Watson said. “And so for me, it’s just fun. And right now, I’m playing pretty good. So I have the ability to travel and play and do some things that I want to do for my own career and my own personal goals. So that’s why I’ve travelled and played more than some other guys.”
This is his second trip to China — Watson played the Shenzhen International a week after the Masters this year.
He will play on the Japan Golf Tour next week, and then return to the Thailand Open. A year ago, he donated his prize money to the foundation of Thongchai Jaidee.
Watson said his first taste of international travel came early when he played on a U.S. team that competed in South Africa. He also recalls a trip to Ireland with some friends to play golf.
“I’ve traveled different places, and just watching golf on TV, watching guys from all over the world winning and competing, it drives you to get better in the game,” he said. “To get better, you want to try to get to all areas in the world and play against different talent and different cultures and see different golf courses around the world.”
He will have played in five countries by the end of the year.
Watson could have played six, but he said he was going to skip the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas a week after Thanksgiving because he needs a break.
DUSTIN RETURNS: Dustin Johnson doesn’t feel like the defending champion at the HSBC Champions, even though he won at Sheshan International the last time he played. He missed his title defense last year when he took a six-month break to work on what he called “personal challenges.”
He is engaged to Paulina Gretzky and they are parents of a boy named Tatum, who was born in January.
“It’s definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Johnson said. “Obviously, it comes with a lot more responsibility and it puts things in perspective where before, kind of golf and Paulina were kind of the most important things. Now he’s the most important thing. Golf comes secondary to him.”
SPIETH’S WORK: Jordan Spieth won seven times worldwide in the last year, including the Masters and U.S. Open, and he captured the FedEx Cup while setting a record for most PGA Tour earnings in one season with just over $12 million.
He’s still looking for ways to improve.
“I would like my short game to stay consistent with how it was this year and I can certainly improve tee-to-green in different categories,” Spieth said. “I can get longer, which is something I can do over the offseason. It’s a combination of swing and what I do in the gym. But there’s definitely stuff that we can fine tune.”
Spieth didn’t touch a club for two weeks, and then got back to work for the final six weeks of the year. He plans to leave for Australia the week of Thanksgiving, and after his title defense at the Australian Open, he has another title to defend in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge.
“It was a short offseason,” Spieth said. “I’ve got a longer break coming in December, and those are kind of what I consider my times to really make some changes. This three-week stretch I used more for rest. The next one I’ll use more for work to get ready for next season.”
Spieth said the one area that concerned him this year was not getting shots from 125 yards to 150 yards any closer to the green.
“So there’s certain categories that I can improve on and maybe spend a little extra time,” he said.
HOCKEY, EH?: Dustin Johnson never spent much time watching the NHL. That changed when he got engaged to the daughter of Wayne Gretzky.
Now he watches when he’s with his prospective in-laws at their home in Southern California.
It helps to be watching with The Great One. He said his hockey knowledge has grown from somewhere around zero to somewhere a little higher.
“I watched a little bit,” Johnson said. “But definitely watch it a lot more, especially when we’re hanging out at her family’s house. But Wayne keeps up with it pretty well, but we don’t watch it that much. Kind of flip back and forth between all the sports, especially right now this time of year.”