(Reuters) – The stinging disappointment of missing the 2016 United States Ryder Cup team was one of the factors why Bubba Watson contemplated retirement last year.
Watson was ranked seventh in the world at the time but suffering from uneven form and not even considered by captain Davis Love as one of his four wild card picks for the team that went on to beat Europe at Hazeltine in Minnesota.
He then lost his way last year, as a cascading series of issues prompted him to consider giving the game away.
“I was seventh in the world, didn’t get picked for the Ryder Cup, which I shouldn’t have,” he said at a press conference after finishing at 12-under-par 272 to clinch the Genesis Open by two strokes on Sunday.
“The last year-and-a-half, almost two years give or take, has been a struggle, because I want to be at the top.
“I was top-10 in the world for a few years and so not being there, you feel like is this it, is this my old man moment, where I can’t play golf again?”
Watson added that apart from the downward spiral in results he had been ill in 2017, but did not disclose what had affected him, while his wife needed surgery.
“To get sick, to lose all this weight … my wife having (leg) surgery, you never know if you’re going to make it again,” the 39-year-old left-hander said of why he had been overcome by emotion after he won on Sunday.
“The emotion was just that — wow — I still have a chance in this game and so it was very emotional, everything coming together.”
Watson added he had seriously considered retiring last year.
“I was close (to retiring). My wife was not close,” he said.
“My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She’s much tougher than I am … I was focusing on the wrong things, pitiful me and not how beautiful my life was, things like that.”
The victory on Sunday was Watson’s third in the event, and 10th on the PGA Tour, a mark he was delighted to achieve.
“Nobody thought Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida would ever get to 10 wins — without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can’t putt,” he said.
“This day and age, to get 10 wins on the PGA Tour, the greatest tour in the world, double digit wins, I am thrilled. I never thought I could get there.”
Watson can now set his sights on April’s Masters at Augusta National, where he will go for a third green jacket.
“I’m looking forward to the Masters,” he said.
“The trend is going in the right direction. I’m not saying I’m going to have a chance of winning it but I’m in the field, so I’ve got a chance.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Adelaide, South Australia; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)