AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - The thrill of being back at Augusta National makes Masters champion Bubba Watson feel like a kid again as he prepares to launch his bid this week for a third green jacket at the year’s opening major.
The American left-hander enjoys a huge comfort factor on the heavily contoured layout where he will also be aiming to join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods as the only players to win consecutive titles.
“It would be an honor and a thrill,” Watson, 36, told reporters at Augusta National on Tuesday of the chance to add his name to the Masters record books.
”My game, my love for this place ... just like some of the veterans that we watch around here that keep competing every year, they have a love for this place.
“It’s a special place in their heart and their minds, and they get excited about it and they become a kid again and they compete at a high level. That’s the same with me.”
Asked what made it so difficult for players to win back-to-back Masters, Watson replied: ”The media attention, the atmosphere; even a year later, you’re excited about your (previous) win.
“Sometimes you get away from your routine or you just use your energy in a different way. That’s what I did. So this time I know what to expect. Doesn’t mean I‘m going to play better, just I know what to expect, I know how to save some energy.”
Watson clinched his first Masters in 2012 with a stunning playoff victory over South African Louis Oosthuizen. Last year, he withstood an early challenge from playing partner Jordan Spieth in the final round before completing a three-shot win.
“Well, it’s the only course I’ve won twice at,” Watson smiled when asked about his comfort factor at Augusta National where the ability to shape shots from right to left is a prized commodity.
”Seven, one and 18 are the holes that I look at that are difficult for me off the tee. All of the other holes look good to my eye, set up well for me.
“The trees outline the fairway pretty good, so it’s easy for me to envision the shot I want to hit. If you add it up, yes, Augusta sets up pretty nicely for me.”
Editing by Frank Pingue