SAN DIEGO – When Matthew Wolff returned to the PGA Tour this week following a two-month hiatus from the game and the glaring spotlight, there were plenty of interested bystanders. But for Bubba Watson, reconnecting with Wolff was a chance to share.
Watson, who has been outspoken about his bouts with mental health and anxiety, arranged a practice round with Wolff this week and he didn’t wait for an invitation to open up.
“I was just sharing my own issues and struggles. Not that he wanted to hear it. He didn’t ask for my advice,” Watson said following a second-round 67 at the U.S. Open. “I’ve wasted money; I’ve saved money; I’ve bought businesses; sold businesses; I’ve lost 20, 30 pounds because of struggles. I said, I’ve done everything you’re thinking about, I’ve done it all. So, I said, if you ever want advice, just call me.”
Watson was also outspoken last month when tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, and later Wimbledon, to “take personal time.”
“It’s probably more helpful to me than him just because I can hear it again in my own head, me saying it out loud, and I played pretty calm out there the last couple days,” Watson said. “I guess it did work out for me.”
Though it wasn’t as easy as it looked. The scorecard read seven birdies and three bogeys, but what you couldn’t see was the toll it took on Watson.
“I’m going to be dead honest with you. Don’t tell nobody; this is a secret. I am nervous over every shot, OK? Told a guy out there, John La Monte, he said, ‘Man, great putt. You make everything.’ I said, ‘I’m trying to lag it, man, but they keep falling in. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m so nervous,'” Watson told Golf Channel’s Damon Hack.
Watson, nerves and all, is in position for his best U.S. Open finish. He has only one top-10 (T-5, 2007) in 14 prior starts. He is, however, a past winner at Torrey Pines (2011 Farmers) and a two-time Masters champion. He’s also quite chatty when he wants to be and opening up to Wolff might have been therapeutic for Watson.
“Oh, man, you know, it’s so funny. Not to say anything about him or anything, but talking to Wolff on the range, we talked for 15-20 minutes or so, he just reminded me where I needed to be, where I should be. Gosh, talking to people, talking about my mental struggles and everyday life – forget golf, just everyday life; trying to be the husband I need to be, trying to be the parent I need to be, the friend I need to be to so many people – that’s really the most important,” Watson told Hack.
“So, when you hit a bad shot, I am going to get upset about it, but it really means nothing. And I know I say that and then tomorrow I’ll probably throw up on myself, but I mean, you know, it’s one of those things where I love this sport so much, it’s given me so much, it’s blessed my family so much, so I try so hard, which is the problem. You’ve got to take the try out of it and swing freely.”