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Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson wants to end his banner season on a high note by winning the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship which starts on Thursday. The swashbuckling American lefthander arrived for the Asian Tour showpiece at Amata Spring Country Club in confident mood, declaring that he did not fly to Thailand to soak in the accolades after winning his first career Major in April.
"I'm here to win. That's everybody's goal. I'm not here to wave at everybody," said the world number 12.
Watson will line up in the second edition of the Thailand Golf Championship alongside many giants of the game including title holder Lee Westwood, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Nicholas Colsaerts, 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke, Ryo Ishikawa, PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan and eight of the top-10 players from the Asian Tour's Order of Merit led by number one Thaworn Wiratchant.
After arriving in Bangkok on Tuesday morning, Watson found out that the mantle as the reigning Masters champion did not bring him instant recognition when he attempted to play the Royal Sports Club course, which is a private course located next to the official hotel.
"I flew in here and felt tired. I just wanted to get some energy levels up. I didn't know how private it (the club) was and it took some hard work to get in there!" said Watson. "I played about 10 holes. I just had a seven iron in hand."
Watson will have with a bagful of new equipment which he will put in play at the magnificent Amata Spring and into the 2013 PGA Tour season which starts in several weeks.
"Pretty much everything is brand new since China and I'm trying to get ready for next year. I worked on it last week (Chevron World Challenge) and finished ninth, and it's feeling better. I missed some putts and hit some bad shots last week but I'm looking forward to the momentum of this week and trying to play some good golf," he said.
Watson defeated South African Louis Oosthuizen, who withdrew from the Thailand Golf Championship due to a stomach ailment, in a play-off to win the Masters Tournament. He produced a remarkable recovery shot from deep in the woods to save par and win the green jacket.
"If you look back, all golfers want to win. Their first goal is to win a golf tournament that year. For me, I've won a tournament in the last three years and to win a Major is a bonus. It's a dream come true. You expect to win one but to actually do it, it's actually very emotional and after doing it, I obviously cried a lot," he said.
"This year was a big year for me, a big stepping stone for me to prove that I can compete at the highest level. As my career grows, I feel I need to come out and play. I played in France a couple of years ago, China for the first time a few weeks ago, and now in Thailand," he said.
Spanish star Sergio Garcia, who played a starring role in the Ryder Cup for Europe in September, expects a stern challenge when he makes his second appearance in the Thailand Golf Championship, which is the Kingdom's premier golf championship due to the quality of the field.
"I think it has been a good season. Winning in U.S. again (Wyndham Championship) was nice. The Ryder Cup obviously topped it off. That was a great way to kind of finish the year. Hopefully I can play here and have a good week in the Iskandar Johor Open (in Malaysia) next week," said Garcia, who is ranked 22nd in the world.
"I think this year the course is going to be a lot wetter. Unless it dries up, it is going to be a little bit softer. The rough is quite thick so it might be a bit longer. It is possible to shoot some decent scores but if it gets windy and you find the rough, you will struggle."
World number 25 Mahan recently underwent corrective laser eye surgery and hopes to have a clearer view of birdies and eagles this week. "It is good to see clearer! The vision is a little bit sharper but I don't know if it will lead to lower scores or anything. I feel good from last week (tied ninth) and I feel excited. I expect to play well but this is a great field. I have to play well to compete," said Mahan, who won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Houston Open this season.
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee, who led the stars on a tuk tuk ride during the media photocall this afternoon, said: "The Thailand Golf Championship is good for golf in Thailand. It was a fantastic tournament last year. I hope this year will be better. I want to try and play well this week," he said.
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