Carlos M. Saavedra / SI
By AP News
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) Masters champion Bubba Watson withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Wednesday because a childhood friend died unexpectedly.

Watson told the PGA Tour that the friend died Tuesday night.

''I have chosen to withdraw so I can attend the funeral and pay respect to my friend and his family,'' Watson said in a statement.

Watson is No. 2 in the world, leaving the tournament with four of the top five players in the world rankings.

Watson will try to become only the fourth player to defend his title at Augusta National next month.

A year ago, he withdrew after an 83 in the opening round because of allergies. A few weeks later, he took out a membership at Bay Hill.

Watson was replaced by Kevin Kisner, who will play the opening two rounds with Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott.

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