AVONDALE, La., April 25 (UPI) -- Golf's newest hero will be in action Thursday for the first time since the Masters victory that suddenly made him to one of his sport's leading figures.
Bubba Watson, who the Masters this month with a sensational shot in a dramatic playoff, will compete Thursday in the opening round of the Zurich Classic.
In addition to being the newly crowned Masters champion, Watson is the defending champion of this event. He will begin play at 8:30 a.m. EDT, teeing off at the TPC-Louisiana course in the company of Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson.
The Masters win moved Watson into the No. 4 spot in the world rankings behind, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. Watson leads the PGA Tour in money earnings this year and is second on the FedEx Cup points list behind Hunter Mahan, the circuit's only two-time winner in 2012.
Donald is in the field this week and will have an afternoon starting time, along with current PGA champion Keegan Bradley and K.J. Choi.
Watson defeated Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole of a sudden death playoff to win the Masters. The victory was set up by a second shot from the trees at the par-4 10th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club -- a shot that made an almost 90 degree turn and finished on the green.
At his pre-tournament news conference Wednesday Watson said when he hit that shot he turned to his caddy and said, "I'm pretty good."