Oh Bubba. That thought was running through the mind of just about every golf fan last Sunday afternoon as Watson missed a 5-footer that would have pushed the Phoenix Open to a playoff. The "oh, Bubba" wasn't a representation of a player who always misses putts or always fails in the clutch, rather it was a commentary on a guy who just can't seem to find that next gear. Yes, he is a major champion, an owner of perhaps the most coveted item in all golf - the green jacket - but since that triumphant win, Watson has been stuck in neutral. He hasn't gone in reverse and hasn't shifted into third gear, he's simply stuck in neutral and for golf fans it's frustrating. Now, let's be real here, Bubba's "neutral" is something that 90 percent of the players on the PGA Tour aspire to. But when guys reach a certain level, like Bubba did two years ago at the Masters, more is expected. Watson won the Masters in 2012, which gave him the built-in excuse of "the Masters hangover" last year, but this year is different. This year, there are no excuses, and although Bubba didn't win last week, he's still off to a good start in 2014, which could mean that he's ready to make another miraculous shot from the trees at Augusta to seal another Masters championship and make us say, "oh, Bubba" ... but in a good way.
This week: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Last Year: Brandt Snedeker shot a final-round 65 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Chris Kirk.
Players to Consider:
Walker already has two wins this season (not year, but season), but he's coming off a missed cut last week. Scared? Not at all, he's finished in the top-10 here the last three years, and, quite frankly, he's a better golfer now than at any point over the last three years.
Johnson hasn't built up enough equity at the majors or even the WGC events yet, but this type of event is right in his wheelhouse. Early in the year - check. West coast - check. Good track record - check. DJ has finished in the top-10 here in four of his six starts, which includes two victories.
Still a little weary of the back situation, but he managed to get through four rounds last week, and he loves this track. Expect a good effort from Phil, who has won this event three times since 2005, the most recent coming just two years ago.
It would be very easy to go straight chalk this week in the top-5, there are more than enough big-name players with quality track records here to fill the list, but what fun is that? Levin is a good-looking sleeper this week as he's posted top-10s here in his last two attempts.
You want sleepers? I got your sleepers. I'm reaching so far into the bag here that I'm not even looking into the bag. I'm doing that thing where you lean on one side so your arm can reach deeper into the bag. Seriously, Singh has the track record. Does he still have the game? If he did, he wouldn't be a sleeper, but you never know.
Players to Avoid:
Snedeker is the defending champ this week, and there were some signs that he was coming around last week, but he's still not quite right. There are simply too many quality options to choose from this week to use Snedeker in this spot. Wait until he puts a few good rounds together.
Anytime I read the words, "injury" and "time off" in the same sentence, I get very nervous. Would Spieth be on this list if he weren't dealing with an injury? No way ... but he is, and the severity of golfer's injuries are never really known to the public.
Stadler caught fire last week and is by no means a "one-hit-wonder," but winning your first PGA Tour event is a big deal, and I can't blame anyone for failing to bring his best game the week after such a big win. The hangover effect trumps momentum in this case.
Some guys are just gluttons for punishment. Daly hasn't made the cut here since the Bush administration - the first one! I was all set to rip off a string of jokes about how long it's been since Daly made the cut here, but I'm not sure my audience would appreciate references to Ace of Base, so I'll relent.
Some guys just never learn. Kelly hasn't made the cut here since the Bush administration. Yep, 2004, that's a long time. Seriously, Kelly is off to a strong start this season, but he's never had much success at this event.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Gary Woodland (T37) - $27,900; Season - $336,961.
This week: Jimmy Walker - It's hard to judge Walker's ceiling - he might end up being a top-10-type player this year - but the fact remains, he's played well the last month and has a strong track record here, so it's time to strike.
Group A: Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker
Group B: Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Chris Kirk
Group C: Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh
Last week: Gary Woodland - made cut; streak (1).
This week: Vijay Singh - Time to mix it up a bit. Singh is a risky bet to make a lot of money this week, but he should make the cut. He made the cut last week and has made the cut here in seven of his past eight tries.