Haas-Watson-Bradley among featured groups at Farmerstext sizeJanuary 25, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Three players coming off career years -- Bubba Watson, Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley -- will renew their rivalry during the first two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open this week.
Watson defends his title at Torrey Pines after holding off Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Jhonattan Vegas in 2011. The win was the first of two for Watson last year, making it three overall for his career. He's also finished in the top 10 three other times here at the picturesque San Diego links.
Tee times Tee times for Haas-Watson-Bradley are below. Click here for all tee times
The affable Floridian is coming off a two-week break after tying for 18th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. During the second week of the break, Watson realized a childhood dream -- buying one of the original General Lee cars used during the filming of the cult TV series, "The Dukes of Hazard."
"(I'm) feeling great about my game right now," Watson said. "Everything, my life's going in the right direction. Just bought one of my best gifts ever, so, yeah, I'm on cloud nine right now.
"So hopefully, it's a big season. Obviously, the last two seasons were my best two seasons ever. Last year I beat my season before. So hopefully we keep moving up. Every year I've improved so that's what we're looking for.
"If that means a major if that means no wins, just keep improving. The main goal is obviously to improve in life and improve off the golf course with charities and different things. That's what I'm most passionate about."
Passionate, indeed. Watson launches his charity "Drive to a Million" campaign at the Farmers Insurance Open this week. He'll play this year with a Ping driver that has a hot pink shaft and head. For every drive he hits over 300 yards, Ping will donate $300 to help eradicate cancer. Watson averaged 314.9 yards off the tee last year.
Haas actually owned a share of the lead entering the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last year. But he bogeyed the first hole and couldn't keep pace with Watson and the rest of the leaders, eventually tying for ninth.
Haas went on to post a total of seven top-10s last year -- including his third career win at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. That victory gave him the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus, as well -- and was instrumental in earning Haas a Captain's Pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
Bradley, who joined Watson and four others with two victories in 2011, emerged with Rookie of the Year honors. He was a legitimate candidate for Player of the Year, as well, after winning the PGA Championship in a playoff with Jason Dufner.
Haas-Watson-Bradley tee times Round 1
12 p.m. ET
No. 10 on North Course
1 p.m. ET
No. 1 on South Course
More featured groups Phil Mickelson-Hunter Mahan-Nick Watney
Round 1: 1:10 p.m. ET on No. 1 (South Course)
Round 2: 12 p.m. ET on No. 10 (North Course)
Mickelson is a three-time champ at Torrey Pines with another three finishes of third or better. Watney is coming off a two-win season while Mahan is making his season's debut. Ernie Els-Geoff Ogilvy-Justin Rose
Round 1: 1 p.m. ET on No. 1 (South Course)
Round 2: 11:50 a.m. ET on No. 10 (North Course)
Els lost in a playoff in at the Volvo World Champions on Sunday. Ovilvy, who lives in La Jolla, and Rose, who became a dad on Jan. 1, are playing in their first PGA TOUR event of 2012. Dustin Johnson-Camilo Villegas-Gary Woodland
Round 1: 11:50 a.m .ET on No. 10 (North Course)
Round 2: 12:50 p.m. ET on No. 1 (South Course)
Johnson made his season's debut and had to withdraw with a balky back. His knee is good, though, and this athletic group should be fun to watch.
Bradley tied for 25th in his first appearance at the Farmers Insurance Open last year. Like Watson and Haas, he has the length to conquer Torrey Pines, and this should be a group to pay close attention to over the first two rounds.