Bubba hoping to step up his game next to greats

US golfer Bubba Watson. Picture: Getty
US golfer Bubba Watson. Picture: Getty
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As Masters champion Bubba Watson is an attraction wherever he goes now – even when playing on his own.

But in San Francisco today he will be far from alone. He will be with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and the centre of attention when the US Open began.

“Two legends. One has won 70-odd sometimes (100 if you count worldwide rather than just PGA Tour) and the other 40 times – obviously it’s going to be a little different,” said Watson.

“One is probably number one of all time and one is probably top five for sure. No intimidation, though. I’ve played with those guys before. Know them. Good friends.

“I’m guessing we’re going to have big crowds (even with a tee-off time of 7.33am that’s a given). Your mental focus, your preparation is different. Everything is heightened a little bit. Hopefully I step up my game.

“Obviously at the end of it, at the end of the week or the end of my couple of days of playing with them, you look back and you learn from them.

“You watch how they handle their situation. You wonder how they handle a bad lie. You learn from two legends of the game, seeing how they go about their business. These are the people I grew up watching in high school. Now I’m getting to play with them. It’s going to be like Sunday at The Masters.”

That should make the 33-year-old feel better if his nerves need calming – things turned out fine there. But the Olympic Club is a far stiffer test than Augusta National and, with a newly-adopted baby son to take care of, Watson has not played that much since.

“We need to be on top of our game for 18 holes. I don’t want to come out here and shoot 80.

“There’s an 80 lurking. You’re going to make bogeys, not many birdies. It’s about trying to make par somehow.

“You know the US Open is going to challenge you in all aspects of your game. That’s the challenge for all of us this week.”

As for his higher profile now that he has a major, Watson admits it has its challenges.

“Everybody starts asking questions and golf is the last thing. It’s been a tough road trying to get back to focusing on golf.

Not that his career is the most important thing in his life.

“The best part is I became a dad, adopted a son (just before his Masters win). Winning is great, but being a father is the best part.”