Bubba Watson was asked for his thoughts on the proposed changes to the golf ball — and he answered with a name.
“Justin Thomas,” Watson said.
“I do not like it. That’s pretty much what he said.”
Opinions on the subject, it seems, have not been difficult to find. On Tuesday, the USGA and the R&A introduced a proposal that includes a Model Local Rule that — for tours and championships that adopt it — would effectively mean rolling back the golf ball and introducing bifurcation, i.e., creating a different set of rules for professionals and top amateurs vs. the rest of the golf world. And the takes came, including one from Thomas, who on Wednesday went on a three-minute rant — his word — in opposition.
On Thursday, ahead of the year’s second LIV Golf event, Watson agreed with the roast. Then he was asked why, and the two-time Masters winner had some thoughts.
His answer was about 275 words and included a little bit of everything.
He talked about “commercialism.”
“Well, there’s many reasons,” Watson began, “but first off, first of all, the commercialism is the one that’s paying all these bills for USGA and all these other organizations, and now you’re asking them to spend millions to change a ball or design a new ball and do all those things. Why?”
He then went in another direction and talked about making drivers that go straighter and farther.
“Professional golfers are a small — minute in the game of golf as a whole, who all plays it, so why not make a driver that lets some guy hit it straighter, further,” he said. “Make a ball that lets a guy or a woman, kid, hit it further.”
He then talked about fellow LIV golfer Bryson DeChambeau.
“Just because you hit it further doesn’t mean it’s going to go straighter,” Watson said. “I’m not trying to throw Bryson under the bus, but Bryson tried to do something, he did do it, but he dialed it back a little. He still hits it further than everybody, but he dialed it back a little because he realized your misses are further — because I’ve been dealing with that for a while; my misses are further off.”
He then said that golf is the only sport changing.
“Going back to the ball, I just don’t see the reason why,” Watson said. “We’re the one sport that’s changing what we do, and we get mad when a guy shoots 10-under for three straight days, but we celebrate when a guy scores 50 points or scores three home runs or four home runs, a guy throws seven touchdowns. We celebrate that. We don’t make him, hey, you can’t throw that many passes the next game. So why are we messing with that?”
He then said that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing.
“The sport is at an all-time high, so let’s don’t mess with it, let’s just keep it growing,” Watson said.
“That’s my short answer.”
Indeed. At the press conference, Watson and fellow LIV golfer Harold Varner were then asked if they could see a situation where they would turn down playing a different ball in a major.
“I’ll ask my sponsor first if I’m allowed to, and then I will gladly play that ball if they let me,” Watson said. “If I’m in a major …”
“I’m going to play whatever they tell me to play,” Varner said.
“Or if LIV says you’ve got to play this ball, then …” Watson said.
“That’s the only thing that gets me about the whole ball thing,” Varner said. “Everyone is complaining about the millions of dollars, there’s a lot of money, but if they change the golf ball and they give you a golf ball, we’re going to play the golf ball.”
Watson then said long hitters are still going to be long hitters.
“Corey Pavin,” he said, “I’m not trying to call out Corey Pavin. Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk …”
“Harold mentioned you in that conversation,” a reporter said.
“That’s fine,” Watson said.
“Hey, I haven’t seen him play tomorrow,” Varner said. “He’s old and decrepit.”