With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Check out this preview of No. 20 Bubba Watson and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.
NO. 20 PLAYER TO WATCH: BUBBA WATSON
2014 OUTLOOK: After winning the Masters in 2012, expectations were high for Bubba Watson in 2013. He took a step backwards, however, with just three top 10s in 21 starts. That’s not to suggest he played poorly -- he still had 10 finishes in the top 25, earned more than $1.8 million and had a chance to win the Travelers Championship until rinsing his tee shot on the 70th hole of regulation. He just didn’t contend as often as some might’ve thought. His new level of stardom (and fatherhood) also took some getting used to. Still, Watson is prolific off the tee and doesn’t get enough credit for how good his iron play is. When he putts even marginally well, he’s in contention. When he doesn’t, he’s not. -- Brian Wacker
THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Watson made two starts -- both in Asia -- and his best finish came at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, where he tied for eighth after four rounds in the 60s.
After the culmination of 2012 that was essentially three years in the making, and the subsequent continuation of almost nothing but top-20 finishes, he finally slowed down. But he's only 35 so it's time to plug him back into all salary formats. -- Rob Bolton
|ON THE MARK
Bubba breaks the mold and enjoys doing so. He has a swing all his own but the beauty about it is he is acutely aware of what makes it work and what doesn’t. His immense power and unparalleled shot-making are certainly strengths. If he does have a short-coming it is that he does tend to get a little short and staccato with his putting stroke and this results in a little inconsistency. -- Mark Immelman
I know 2013 was a difficult season for Bubba that came and went without a victory and I wonder if the expectations of performance following a 2012 Masters win played a roll in the disappointment. He is, of course, gifted with incredible length and shot-shaping abilities. The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone fits his game. -- Fred Albers
|INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The big-hitting Watson still hits a ton of greens despite accuracy issues off the tee. He ranked 5th in greens hit this season at 69.41 percent and has been in the top 10 the past three seasons. Interestingly, Watson had his best career proximity mark in 2013 at 35 feet, 2 inches (T97). Continued improvement could help him on the greens, where he has always struggled. -- Bill Cooney
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The par-4 10th hole at Sheshan International plays at just over 400 yards, making it one of the shorter two-shotters on the course, but one of the world's longest hitters ran into a little trouble there Friday.
Bubba Watson took a double-bogey six to open his back nine Friday but carded four birdies on his last six holes to shoot a 3-under 69 and become the first player in the clubhouse at 7 under after two rounds of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
"I made a double on No. 10, a quick double after being in the middle of the fairway, but then I made some good putts, some good quality shots, and finished up strong," Watson said.
The four-time TOUR winner hasn't picked up another title since his triumph at the 2012 Masters Tournament, a streak of 33 starts that features 18 top-25 finishes.
" We've still got two more days," Watson said. "Two more days, a lot could happen. I could be dead last by the end of the week. Right now I'm just taking it with stride and hopefully come out and make some putts and hit the ball just as could."
By PGATOUR.COM staff
To say the least, the recreation center at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club at the CIMB Classic is right up Bubba Watson's alley.
During a weather delay in the final round Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Watson hit up Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club's bowling alley. We caught up with Watson, who showed us his version of 'kid bowling.' Check it out.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Bubba Watson will be a guest on ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday when the show travels to Athens, Ga., for the LSU-Georgia game.
The 2012 Masters champ and Georgia alum will be a guest picker on the show, offering his predictions on who will win the day's best college football games.
Also on the show will be avid LSU fan Willie Robertson from the television series Duck Dynasty.
GameDay airs on ESPN from 9 a.m. ET until Noon.
Sports Illustrated has released its annual list of The Twitter 100 -- a recommendation of the top 100 sports personalities to follow on Twitter. PGA TOUR stars Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson each made the list. For SI.com's complete Twitter 100 list, click here.
Dufner has more than 290,000 followers. Click here to see his Twitter feed.
Watson has more than 1 million followers. Click here to see his Twitter feed.
In the opening round of the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Bubba Watson holes a 37-foot eagle putt on the par-5 second hole. He went on to shoot a 3-under 67.
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.