PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Bubba Watson has decided to skip The Players Championship to spend time with his family, making this the second time in five years that the Masters champion has not played in the PGA Tour’s flagship tournament.
Watson announced his decision Thursday afternoon on Twitter, saying he needed to spend more time with his wife, Angie, and the 2-month-old son they adopted just two weeks before he captured his first major at Augusta National.
“The Players is one of the best weeks of the year but bonding with my son and wife is what it is all about right now,” Watson tweeted.
Watson played two weeks after his Masters victory in New Orleans because he was the defending champion. He pulled out of the Wells Fargo Championship this week, and along with not being at The Players, said he planned to take at least a month off.
“Sorry to disappoint fans but the Players has one of the best fields all year, tourney is more than fine without me,” Watson said in another tweet. He added that he was lucky to play golf for a living and that it allowed him to set his own work schedule.
The Players Championship has the largest purse in golf and typically attracts the strongest and deepest field of the year. But this is the second straight year that a player who won’t be at the TPC Sawgrass is attracting attention. A year ago, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood opted not to play. They were not PGA Tour members at the time.
Watson talked in New Orleans about not having as much time with his new son since returning from Augusta National and a media tour in New York.
“We respect Bubba’s decision in light of the unique and life-changing circumstances of the past month,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said in a statement. “His focus on his family is admirable, as was his decision to honor his commitment to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as defending champion. We look forward to having him back on the tour soon.”
THREE TIED FOR WELLS FARGO LEAD: At Charlotte, N.C., Webb Simpson said he was nervous playing golf with Tiger Woods. It sure didn’t show.
Simpson chipped in for eagle and holed a 60-foot birdie putt that might have rolled off the 12th green if the cup didn’t get in the way. It led to a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Stewart Cink and Ryan Moore in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Woods one-putted three of the last four holes for a 71.
It was the first time Simpson had played 18 holes with Woods. They were paired in the final round at Doral, where Woods withdrew after 11 holes because of a sore left Achilles tendon.
Rickie Fowler led a group of five players at 66 that included Patrick Reed, the 21-year-old from Augusta State who has Monday qualified to get in the last two tournaments.