Phoenix Open Player in Focus: Bubba Watson

By Ian Hudson
Debby Wong-US Presswire

Bubba Watson (pictured) withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open last week so he arrives in Arizona fresh and rested and with a great opportunity to win the Phoenix Open.

Watson took his career to a new level by winning the US Masters last year. He beat Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off after playing one of the shots of the year. He faded his ball from behind trees to find the green and that shot helped him to win his first major championship.

Watson is one of the longest hitters on Tour, and was known for his pink-coloured driver head and his long hitting before the Masters . He is one of the characters on Tour and his personality was reflected in his encouragement of the crowd at the Ryder Cup to cheer as he was playing his tee shot on the first hole.

The left handed player has only competed once this year. He played in the season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, an event for which only Tour winners from last year are eligible.

Watson made a solid start to his year by finishing seven shots behind the winner, Dustin Johnson. He was never a contender in Hawaii but he showed his game was in decent order following his extended break over Christmas and New Year.

Our player in focus has played in the last six Phoenix Opens and failed to make the cut on just one occasion. Watson relishes the raucous atmosphere, and clearly enjoys playing in front of the huge crowds that attend the tournament.

In the five years that Watson has made the cut since 2007, he has never finished more than eight shots off the pace. His best effort in that spell was last year when he finished four shots behind the champion, Kyle Stanley.

The Phoenix Open is a tournament in which players with plenty of course experience do well. This may be more to do with the noise from the huge crowds than the demands of the course. In any case, Watson is proven on the TPC at Scottsdale layout that is the regular host of the Phoenix Open

This is a tournament that puts a premium on accuracy over length. As well as being above average in length off the tee, Watson scores highly for greens in regulation. He was second on the US PGA Tour for this discipline last season, which means he is a leading contender for the Phoenix Open this week.

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