Bubba eager to return to Masters, join festivities

Bubba eager to return to Masters, join festivities

When defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler bumped into two-time winner Bubba Watson while on vacation in Tennessee late last year, he joked that he was going to have a separate table for him in a corner at the Champions Dinner at Augusta National Golf Club in April.

Watson is among six former Masters champions who are now playing in the LIV Golf League and are suspended from participating in PGA Tour events.

Scheffler was joking, of course, but Watson said Tuesday that he’ll sit wherever he’s told as long as he can attend the annual tradition that is reserved for players who have won green jackets.

“Hey, as long as I’m in the Champions Dinner, I’m fine,” Watson told reporters in a news conference at the Saudi International. “I’ll sit wherever he tells me. It’s fine. As long as I’m allowed back, I’ll sit wherever he wants me to. I’ll sit outside and just stare in the window.”

Watson, who won the Masters in 2012 and 2014, said he was “very thankful” that he gets to return to play in the first major championship of the season. Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley announced in December that players who have qualified under previous criteria used to determine the field, including past champions, would be invited back in April.

Past Masters champions Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel are also competing on the LIV Golf circuit.

In the past, Watson was there to support amateurs who were competing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the junior Drive, Chip and Putt national finals at Augusta National. He’ll miss those events this year, however, as LIV Golf scheduled a tournament in Orlando, Florida, the week before the Masters.

“But it’s one year,” Watson said. “I’m going to definitely be in the ears of people at LIV and try to see if I can get back there because I want to support what the Masters means to the game of golf, what the membership of Augusta means to the game of golf, and I would love to be there for the Women’s Amateur and the kids on Sunday.

“It’s a little upsetting that I’ll be playing golf the week before in Orlando, but I know it’s for the best, and I’ll be there supporting my team and trying to win that trophy. But I’ll get to Augusta as fast as I can.”

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