Birthday boy Bubba wants to shed bad boy image

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Shanghai (AFP) - Double US Masters champion Bubba Watson turned 36 on Wednesday and said he needs to turn over a new leaf after admitting his mother scolds him over his behaviour on and off the course.

Watson, who won his second green jacket at Augusta in April to add to his 2012 triumph, told reporters at the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan that he still has his "bad moments" and that his mother was among his fiercest critics.

"Obviously I believe in myself. I believe I can perform at a better level," he told a press conference ahead of this week's $8.5 million event known as "Asia's Major".

"I think I scratched the surface a little bit last year, still had my hiccups, still had my bad moments, still had my bad press," he said of a season in which he won the Masters, the Northern Trust Open and had eight top-10 finishes.

As with most bad boys, he takes more notice when it is his mother, Molly Marie Watson, who is wagging the finger.

"She tells me that I'm not being good. She tells me I should smile more and not be so angry. Pretty much what the media says. I guess she could write for the media, too," he said.

Watson famously upset the European Tour at the 2011 Open de France, one of the tour's most prestigious events, by blaming everyone from officials and marshals to fans for him missing the cut.

He also angered the French nation by complaining of being homesick after his first round and referring to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as "an arch, whatever, I rode around in a circle".

- Poor reputation -

Watson is fully aware that he is a divisive character and said Wednesday that where his behaviour was concerned he needed to improve "all of it".

"Any time that somebody writes bad press, the only way I'm going to improve as a human being, improve as a husband, improve as a dad, is when you get people that call you out," he said.

Among other misdemeanours that have turned fans against him were launching into a tirade against his caddie that was caught on TV microphones after a triple bogey at the US PGA Tour's Travelers Championship in June 2012.

He also has a reputation for snapping ungraciously at fans and infamously once walked away from the Arnold Palmer invitational after a round in which he scored 11 at one hole citing allergy problems.

"When I make mistakes, when your friends call you out, when the media calls you out, when my wife calls me out, when my mom calls me out, when these people call you out and tell you you're doing something wrong, it's not to punish you," he said. "It's about to help you improve later in life.

"If everybody said I was great all the time, then I would never improve as a human being. The Bible teaches us right from wrong, so I know I'm a sinner. I mess up a lot."