Leading up to the PGA Championship, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. We finish up with a guy who wouldn't mind wouldn't adding a Wanamaker Trophy to the green jacket he already has in his closet.
His 2012 so far: Watson already has a green jacket in his possession, thereby making 2012 a complete success. But if you really want to see how well he's played this year, take out the major win and look at the rest of the season. With the exception of back-to-back missed cuts at the Memorial and U.S. Open, Watson hasn't finished outside the top-25 in his 10 other starts this season. That's pretty impressive for a guy who's taken weeks off in between events.
His record at the PGA Championship: Considering he's only made five PGA Championship starts in his career, his record is fairly decent. There's a T-70 and two missed cuts in there, but over the last two years, Watson produced a second-place finish in 2010 (he lost in a playoff to Martin Kaymer at Whistling Straits) and T-26 last season.
Why he could win: Because the Ocean Course requires you to not only bomb it off the tee, but shape the ball in both directions, two things Bubba Watson can do as well as any player in the field. This isn't exactly Augusta National, where you can pull driver and get away with wayward tee shots, but you have to like his chance on the longest course (7,676 yards) in major championship history. If you need another reason to take Bubba this week, don't forget he's coming off playing two events in the last three weeks. The last time he played that much, he ended up leaving the course with a green jacket. Watson obviously decided to take extended periods of time off between the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open to spend time with his baby boy. But if you look at his stats, Watson seems to play his best golf when he's had time to groove his swing.
Why he could fall short: This course demands accuracy off the tee to score. It's not Oakmont or Olympic Club narrow, but you can't get careless and expect to contend. The extreme length is right in Watson's wheelhouse, but if he turns the PGA Championship into a long drive contest and tries to reach every par 5 in two, he's likely going to find trouble in Kiawah's sand dunes. For Watson, it's all about being smart this week and keeping his ego in check.
Our take: Whether you want to believe it or not, Bubba Watson has the tools to win this week. He's long, can shape the ball, and has the imagination around the greens to be a factor. The big question is, can he keep the big number off his card and stay patient when things aren't going his way? We think he'll come close, but a couple untimely misses will have him settling for a top-5 finish.
And you? What's your take on Bubba Watson's chances this week?