An emotional Bubba Watson will dedicate his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor to his dying father.
Vietnam War veteran Gerry Watson is battling cancer, and Watson junior struggled to hold back the tears today as he underlined what this week will be about.
“My dad is dying of cancer – the doctor says he has three months to live,” said Watson.
“I’m playing this for him and representing the United States.
“I, more than likely, am never going to be in the military unless they ask for our help, so this is the chance to be like my dad.”
Watson did his father proud with an outstanding performance in this year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, where he was beaten in a play-off by Germany’s Martin Kaymer, a European Ryder Cup rival.
And having gone so close to landing a first Major, 32-year-old Watson is determined to make his mark alongside some illustrious company when the action starts on Friday.
“You are going to get pumped up, but one thing I’ve noticed is that when I have to do something I can usually hold it together and play all right,” he added.
“I could easily, I guess, have thrown the tournament away at the PGA Championship, under pressure with like five holes to go.
“There was a lot of pressure. Who doesn’t want to to lift a big heavy trophy like that?
“I hit a bad shot in the play-off, but to get in the play-off I played solid under pressure. I held it together well.”
Despite heavy rain sluicing through most of today’s second practice rounds, crowds flocked to the course, suggesting the opening fourballs on Friday morning will begin in an electric atmosphere.
With stands on three sides of the first tee, American visitors are comparing it to a small baseball arena, and Watson knows it will be no place for the faint-hearted.
The Ryder Cup rookie though, intends to take everything in his stride and has a fairly straightforward outlook on the hype surrounding golf’s biggest team event.
“Some days, I’m going to beat you at golf, some days you’re going to beat me at golf, that’s how it is,” he said.
“I just see it as a competition, and hopefully by the end of the week we have won more matches than the other team. I don’t look at the history of it – it’s no big deal to me.”
But Watson struggled to mask his frustration at what he perceives as a lack of driving opportunities on the Twenty Ten course. With an average 309.3 yards off the tee this year, he is the biggest hitter on either team.
“Golf courses are going longer, but they are not letting you hit longer tee shots,” he added. “They are still putting bunkers, rough, something in the way where you have to lay back.
“On this golf course you have to lay back a lot.
“You can try to bomb it in the 10 yard-wide fairway, but for the most part it’s just about hitting fairways and we are going to hit mid to long irons into the par threes and the par fours.
“There are a lot of long irons, so if you can putt and chip well on that day that you’re playing, whoever you’re playing, you’re going to stand a great chance of winning that match.
“There is high rough, so if you miss the fairways you are not going to be able to get to the greens and it’s going to rely on wedge shots and making the putt.”