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December 11 2013

11:30 AM

No. 20 player to watch: Bubba Watson

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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.

EXPERT VIEWS
FANTASY OUTLOOK
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
COURSE PREFERENCE
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

VIDEO VAULT

Super Slo-Mo Drive: Bubba Watson

The drive of multiple PGA TOUR winner Bubba Watson, captured at The Barclays 2012, is analyzed by four-time PGA TOUR winner and Emmy-winning broadcaster Billy Kratzert.
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