Bubba Watson's win at the 2012 Masters propelled him into the golfing spotlight and, since then, it's safe to say he hasn't looked back.
Before the American won again around Augusta National in 2014, he spoke to Michael McEwan about his maiden major triumph and the emotions he felt upon beating Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off to put on the coveted Green Jacket.
Let’s talk about your Masters win in 2012. Do you see that as having been the most pivotal point in your career so far?
"You know what? I look back at that whole week and, man, I don’t - I don't even really know what that was! It was a dream come true. It was the dream of all dreams. I remember I’d been having a good week and my mental preparation had been just right, so, when I got up on Sunday morning, I said to myself, ‘Okay, let’s just have a strong finish.’
"I wasn’t really that nervous. I just wanted to give myself the best chance possible to win. No-one really took off at first in the final round - well, maybe except Louis who had that ‘two’ at the second - so, when I got to the turn, I realised I had a chance. Still, I never got ahead of myself, I never lost focus and stayed committed to playing every shot as best as I could. In the end, it proved good enough to get into a play-off."
Then there was that shot from the trees on the second extra hole to set up your win. Tell me about that.
"Well, the lie was pretty good for a start. It was on the pine straw but it was a clean lie and was sitting nicely. The wind was blowing a little bit from left to right, which suited the shape I was trying to hit, and it was set-up for a hook, which is the easiest shot for me. So, really, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. It was perfect.
"Obviously, where the shot ended up was amazing, like 12 feet from the hole or whatever it was, but, my caddie and me, we were just trying to get it on the green. The fact we got it so close was a bonus. It’s funny, my buddies back home have seen me play that shot so many times before. That big high hook, they’ve seen it a ton of times, so they don’t really think it’s that special any more.
"But I guess on TV, to set up the chance to win the greatest golf tournament in the world, I suppose I can see why people think it was pretty cool. Particularly for a guy named Bubba from Bagdad!"
You said you hadn’t really been nervous during the final round but tell me, what was going through your head when you had the putt to win in the play-off?
"Well, the first thing I noticed was that it was going to break a couple of feet, so all I was thinking about at first was lagging it up close enough to the hole that I could have a tap-in. I’d had a similar kind of putt earlier in the day, so I tried hard to focus on that and just concentrate on getting the right speed so that I could nudge it home.
"I did a pretty good job, got it to eight inches or something but, if you look back at the footage, you see that I motion for everyone to be quiet before I tapped in. That’s because I hadn’t finished the job yet.
"Yeah, for sure, you’d expect to hole out from eight inches every time but I wanted to go through my routine properly and be safe because, you know, there was a Green Jacket riding on it. So, yeah, I was very careful and tried to just concentrate on getting that ball in the hole."
It was obviously a hugely emotional win for you. What do you think when you watch back footage of that winning moment?
"You know, any time you win a golf tournament there are a ton of emotions. When you win a major, you can multiply that by whatever number you like. There was just so much that went through my head all at that one instant.
"I thought of my wife, my mum who was there, my dad who sadly passed away a couple of years earlier, and then I had my friends - like Rickie , Ben , and Aaron - all come rushing down the hill to celebrate with me. It was overwhelming.
"And then, it the middle of all this, I suddenly had a thought for a pro back home in Bagdad, a left-hander, who gave me my first ever club - a 9-iron - when I was a kid all those years ago. Knowing that he was sitting at home, watching with his wife and kids… it was a lot to process. Very emotional."
Bubba Watson in bunkered
This interview with Bubba Watson first appeared in issue 130 of bunkered (published: March 2014).