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Predicting Whether Bubba Watson Will Rise or Fall in 2013

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Predicting Whether Bubba Watson Will Rise or Fall in 2013
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Is there any doubt that Bubba Watson is one of the three or four most gifted golfers on the PGA tour?

He is a marketing man's dream: the self-made golfer who can hit the ball longer than any of the elite players on the tour.

He has a Masters to his credit, and he is capable of getting a crowd amped up and roaring when he gets on a roll.

Watson is coming off the best season of his career, when he won just over $4.6 million on the tour, finished first in averaged driving distance and second in greens in regulation.

That's an awesome combination. When you can hit the ball as far as Watson hits it and still rank second at getting the ball to the green in regulation, you have a chance to dominate.

Instead of looking up at Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, there's every reason that the big lefty could be the best on the tour.

But Watson still has some things to work out. A good-time, 34-year-old slugger from the south might be expected to be a party boy who enjoys the good life, but that's not his issue.

Watson is a people pleaser. He does not like to say no. He likes to communicate with his fans and get his message across.

Few golfers are as popular on Twitter as Watson. He has more than 800,000 followers as of Feb. 7, and that number has been growing steadily since he won the Masters last April.

Watson shot a 10-under par 278 to win the Masters in 2012. That victory not only was the turning point in his professional career, it turned Watson into a household name.

After the win, Watson made appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman," "Piers Morgan," "CBS This Morning," "Charlie Rose," "Morning Joe" and "Morning Drive."

Watson did not just show up and take his congratulations; he was a natural. His give-and-take with Letterman demonstrated that he is a good guy who was not impressed with his status. In short, you would be happy if Watson was your next-door neighbor.

But being a good neighbor is not going to win championships on the PGA tour.

After Watson won the Masters, he played well on the tour, but he did not win another tournament the rest of the year.

Watson is clearly an emotional man who has learned with much difficulty how to keep his emotions in check.

Perhaps he has a little bit too much of that free-and-easy attitude.

Watson understands that golf isn't everything, but if he looks a little bit further, he knows he must continue to win and get better if he is going to hold on to his status as one of the top players in the world.

Watson does not need to do much, but perhaps a little bit of fine-tuning with his focus is in order. Just a bit more concentration on his game should get him back to the winners circle and perhaps give him another major.

Watson could also show some improvement at putting and his play in greenside bunkers. He ranked 158th in strokes gained while putting and 180th in sand save percentage last year.

If he can improve in both of those categories just a bit, McIlroy and Woods will have company at the top.

The feeling here is that Watson will continue to grow in his game and continue to rise throughout the 2013 season.

He simply has too much ability for any other result to occur.

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