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Darren Clarke and Bubba Watson to sit out Players Championship

US Masters champion is taking the week off to ‘bond’ with his wife and son.

Bubba Watson: new adopted son.
Bubba Watson: new adopted son.
Image: (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MASTERS CHAMPION Bubba Watson is one of several big names who will miss this week’s Players Championship field.

British Open champion Darren Clarke, former Open champion Paul Lawrie, last year’s Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and American star Dustin Johnson will also be missing from what is often referred to as the sport’s unofficial fifth major.

Watson’s absence is the biggest blow to the tournament however. He is not injured and simply wants to spend more time at home with his wife and newly-adopted baby son.

“Plan to take at least a month off,” Watson said on Twitter. ”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.

“Sorry to disappoint fans, but the Players has one of the best fields all year, tourney is more than fine without me.”

Watson’s decision has been backed by the PGA Tour.

“We respect Bubba’s decision in light of the unique and life-changing circumstances of the past month,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said.

“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.”

Nevertheless the TPC Sawgrass event, often referred to as the fifth major with $9.5 million in prize money up for grabs, will still draw a strong field.  Nine of the top-10 players in the world and the last six players to have held the top spot, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, are all playing.

American golfers will bid to snap a four-tournament winning streak for international players at the Players, with KJ Choi (South Korea), Tim Clark (South Africa), Henrik Stenson (Sweden) and Sergio Garcia (Spain) the last men standing in the last four year. Of the 145 players in the field, 52 were born outside of the United States.

Australia leads the way with 10 players in the field, including 2004 champion Adam Scott.

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