SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bubba Watson has taken a lot of approved medications lately. After fighting through illness to tie for fourth in the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, last year's Masters champion withdrew before the start of the Farmers Insurance Open last week in San Diego.
"I had strep throat in (Hawaii), and then I had the flu last week," Watson said Wednesday. "My energy level isn't where I want it to be, about 80 percent right now. … (Tuesday) was the first time I played golf (in about a week). I'm still kind of under the weather, trying to get the medicine out of me. Kind of groggy, just don't have the energy. I lost about 10 pounds since (Hawaii), but I want to be out there competing."
Watson was paired with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps in the pro-am, a day before the start of the Phoenix Open. "Being able to play with Bubba, it's something else," Phelps said. "We were throwing jokes back and forth the whole entire time."
phelps and ping: Phelps, the winner of a record 18 Olympic gold medals, is an avid golfer and signed with Ping to provide his clubs. He was fitted for a set that accommodates his 6-foot-4 height, long arms and large hands.
garcia's brighter days: Less than three years ago, Sergio Garcia was mired in a slump so prolonged that he missed making the 2010 European Ryder Cup team and saw his ranking fall to 85th. He moped around the course and at one point talked of giving up the game.
But rather than walk away, the former No. 2-ranked Spaniard said he used those dark days as an inspiration to find his way back. He has won twice in each of the past two years, and a victory this week at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic could propel him back into the top 10.
He is up to No. 14 in the latest rankings after finishing second at last week's Qatar Masters.
"Excited. It's been two good years," Garcia, 33, said. "But more than anything, I'm excited because I know how I'm feeling. I know how my attitude is on the course. I know how my will is to try to do things to get better."
Garcia credits his recovery, which began with a string of wins in Spain in 2011, partly to his improved short game and to a better attitude on and off the course. He also benefited from laser eye surgery last year that corrected his astigmatism, improving his aim and reading of the greens.