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Sunday, February 16, 2014
Updated: February 17, 3:40 PM ET
Win likely to propel Bubba Watson

ESPN.com

After a nearly two-year drought, Bubba Watson climbed back to the winner's circle, holding off Dustin Johnson to claim the Northern Trust Open as his fifth career PGA Tour victory.

So what's in store for the 2012 Masters champ? And speaking of the year's first major, will we see something new down the left side of the 17th hole after the Eisenhower Tree was removed due to a freak ice storm?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Which is more likely: Watson wins again in 2014 or another two-year drought?


Michael Collins ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Watson will win again this year. Remember in 2011, after winning the Farmers Insurance Open, he went on to win Zurich later that year? Expect an even better year than that one.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Bubba is a streaky player, but he's got enough game to win every time he plays. It's just a matter of how well he concentrates. It will be surprising to see him have another two-year drought.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: He'll win again. Bubba is a sensitive guy who plays with confidence and feel. This makes two very good tournaments in a row, including a victory. He seems to be well past the Masters hangover, and this should help him going forward.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Wish it wasn't true, but a two-year drought is more likely. The way he can get spooked on a course like he was twice on Sunday at Riviera's ninth hole goes to show how easily he can get distracted. Granted, just about anyone would have probably been spooked in that situation, but Watson tends to have rabbit ears more than most.


2. The loss of the Eisenhower Tree at Augusta National was a key portion of the "defense" of the 17th hole. How will it change the hole?

Collins: Augusta always has a backup plan. Some reports say they had two backup trees for the Eisenhower. What also isn't known is whether those trees suffered any damage from ice as well. I firmly believe Eisenhower II will be in place when Masters week begins.

Evans: The Eisenhower Tree doesn't really come into play for most of the players, but it can be a nuisance off the tee. Now players won't have to contend with the Ike tree on this pivotal hole Sunday afternoon.

Harig: Who is to say they won't replace it? Augusta National has that ability, and it would not be a surprise to see another tall pine tree in its place. Without that, however, the fairway becomes much wider. There would be far more room if there is no tree.

Maguire: It wouldn't be a shocker if another tree of similar size was residing in roughly the same place by the time Masters week rolls around in early April. That being said, not having the Eisenhower Tree there changes the complexity of the hole significantly. Remember, this is the place Tiger Woods hurt his knee -- and eventually missed significant time -- after his tee shot on 17th dropped below its branches.


3. Give us a player not in the top 20 in the world that you think might win the WGC-Match Play?

Collins: Gary Woodland. He's got the all-around game that will work well for match play. It doesn't hurt that he'll be coming into the event with the confidence of a runner-up finish in San Diego and a good showing in Phoenix.

Evans: Harris English. He is arguably the best young American player in the world under the age of 30.

Harig: Hideki Matsuyama. He has been solid over the past year since turning pro, and there are no real upsets at the Match Play anyway. Nobody outside of the top 20 would be a surprise, but the Japanese star certainly has the game.

Maguire: Graham DaLaet. The Canadian went 3-1-1 at the Presidents Cup in October playing match play and showed moxie as well as a flair for the dramatic. A strong showing deep into the bracket isn't out of the question.


4. If the WGC-Match Play moves venues for 2015, where should they hold the event?

Collins: As long as it's somewhere warm and doesn't have an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, it really doesn't matter. Play it at a muni in St. Lucia. As long as the course is fair, an easy walk, and has places for the high-profile golfers to "disappear," they'll show up.

Evans: Isleworth in Windermere, Fla., would be a great match play site. Sure, from the Tiger tees (7,544 yards) it's a beast, but it would bring in the Florida swing a week earlier and entice Woods to hopefully show up.

Harig: The PGA Tour really needs to think long and hard about not only playing somewhere else, but changing the date. Two WGCs in three weeks is a problem. How about the fall as part of the start to the new season? (Of course there's a WGC event in China then, too.) What about in the UK before or after the Open Championship? There have long been cries to get another "world'' event outside of the U.S. Harding Park in San Francisco has been rumored, but there is so much to consider.

Maguire: Doral. It had been rumored a few years back that the WGC-Cadillac Championship (currently held at Doral) would move somewhere else, leaving an opening to bring the WGC-Match Play to South Florida. A completely redone course at Doral, which has received positive reviews so far for adding some teeth back into the Blue Monster, makes it even more enticing for the change.