Watson targets Gleneagles glory
4:19pm Monday 14th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Bubba Watson believes he will cope with his second spell as Masters champion far better than he did the first as he sets his sights on a Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles in September.
Watson admits it was overwhelming to win a green jacket for the first time in 2012, feeling he almost "lucked into" a play-off victory over former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
The 35-year-old American and his wife Angie had also adopted a baby son just days before travelling to Augusta, where Watson returned a year later and struggled to cope with the attention on him as the defending champion.
"I didn't know how to handle it the best way and so I didn't play my best golf last year," said Watson, who in 2013 made the cut but finished a distant 50th before presenting Adam Scott with his green jacket.
Twelve months on the roles were reversed as Scott was unable to follow Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods in making a successful title defence, the Australian finishing joint 14th before returning the favour for Watson.
"The team I have around me, we have always thought that I've had the talent," added Watson, whose closing round of 69 on Sunday gave him a three-shot victory over Jordan Spieth and Sweden's Jonas Blixt - a victory he celebrated in typical fashion at Waffle House on Sunday evening.
"We always felt like I could play golf at a high level, but then to actually do it is the hard part. After getting the green jacket the first time it's overwhelming, a guy named Bubba from a small town, born in Pensacola, Florida, raised in Bagdad; it's crazy to think that you've won.
"Adopting my son the week before threw a wrench in there as well. Learning to be a dad and then learning to have a green jacket with you is two big things to adjust to.
"So it just took me a little time. When I won in LA (at the Northern Trust Open in February) I said I might never win again, but I'm going to give it my best effort. I just kept working hard, even though it doesn't look like I practice that much.
"With hard work and my wife's dedication we worked out schedules, how I can practise at a high level, if it's 30 minutes or if it's an hour, just get a quick practice in and then come back and be a dad and be a husband. We figured out our schedule and how to travel better and everything and here we are.
"The first time we treated it a lot different because of the family. I had to be there for my son and so golf was the farthest thing from my mind. So I took off some tournaments. Trying to be a good husband, a good dad at that moment was the most important thing.
"This one is a little bit different. My schedule is probably not going to change. Everything's a go. We are trying to make the Ryder Cup team. We are trying to win the next tournament, trying to make the next cut. So it's a lot different situation now than it was back then."
Watson's victory took him top of the Ryder Cup standings and United States' captain Tom Watson was quick to send his congratulations, writing on Twitter: "Way to go Bubba! Enjoy your victory. See you on the plane to Gleneagles."
Watson has played in the last two Ryder Cups, winning just one point from four matches at Celtic Manor in 2010 - where he lost to Miguel Angel Jimenez in the singles - and two points from four matches at Medinah in 2012.
On that occasion he recorded two resounding victories with former US Open champion Webb Simpson in the fourballs, but lost on the 18th to Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in foursomes and to Luke Donald in the opening singles match as Europe staged a memorable fightback from 10-6 down.
"I love it, going over there (to Scotland) and playing golf, so I can't wait," Watson said. "I know a win here is double points, so I figure I made the team. It's a great feeling. I haven't won a Ryder Cup yet, so that's the next big tournament I'd like to win."