Golf gets in the way of Bubba's Olympic experience

Bubba Watson (Getty Images)
Bubba Watson (Getty Images)

Springfield - Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is more excited about the chance to be an Olympian than he is about the opportunity to win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

The 37-year-old American will be part of golf's return to the Olympic lineup after a 112-year absence and he wants a chance to boost the sport's global appeal.

"A gold medal is not really what I'm looking at, just being on the team and being part of this," Watson said. "The reason we brought golf to the Olympics was to try to get the world involved and grow the game.

"The gold medal, or any medal, is a bonus."

Watson, who captured green jackets in 2012 and 2014 at Augusta National, said he is going to a different Olympic sport every night as a spectator.

"I'm going to be a fan of the Olympics and I can't wait," Watson said. "I've already bought my tickets from Monday to Saturday. I'm going to a different event every single night, and then golf gets in the way.

"Watching and meeting other athletes, that's going to be the growing part for who I am as a person."

Watson will be needed to help restore some of the luster lost from the men's tournament when the world's four top-ranked players withdrew.

He was the highest-ranked golfer when the 60-man Rio field was named, but Swede Henrik Stenson won the Open Championship to leap past him into fifth, Watson falling to sixth.

World No 1 Jason Day of Australia, America's second-ranked Dustin Johnson and No 3 Jordan Spieth and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy all cited the Zika virus for pulling out of the Games, which has been linked to birth defects.


Watson, who had not dreamed of the Olympics until golf was in the lineup, had no Zika fears, having adopted children Dakota and Caleb because his wife Angie is unable to have children. He said security in Rio was never a worry.

"I've had to adopt my two kids. We can't have kids. So that aspect is completely wiped away," Watson said. "When it comes to security, I mean, I've seen the worst. I grew up in what some people wouldn't say was a country club lifestyle, so I'm not worried about that.

"No matter what I finish, I don't care if I finish dead last. At the end of my career I get to say I played in the Olympics."

Watson joked he was fine as long as his business manager was with him.

"I'm not worried about the security part. I've got my manager that's going to be right by my side, so as long as I can outrun him, we're good."

Watson will miss the opening ceremonies so he can defend his title at the PGA Travelers Championship from August 4-7 in Connecticut.

He flies to Rio on the following Monday and practices on the new Olympic course for two days before the tournament begins.

"It was a no-brainer. It was never coming off the schedule no matter what happened," Watson said.

"From the golf side of it, preparation for the Olympics, I don't know what the preparation is going to be down there because it's a new venue that just was built, so for practice and to knock rust off or whatever it is, I want to try and defend my title and then fly to the Olympics.

Watson has played for US teams at three Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups but he sees this is a deeper way to represented his homeland.

"It's my one chance to be a part of the United States and have the flag around me and have me be somewhat associated with the United States flag. So it's my one chance to show support."

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