United States team captain Tom Watson walks to the 1st tee with Bubba Watson during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup.
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By Coleman McDowell
Friday, September 23, 2016

Bubba Watson wants to be in Hazeltine next week no matter what. 

He's one of the handful of players in the running for the final captain's pick on Team USA. Captain Davis Love hasn't tipped his hand to where he's leaning with the pick, but even if Watson gets left off for Jim Furyk, Daniel Berger or Justin Thomas, Watson still wants to be a part of the team.

"I sent him a text that said, ‘Can I be an assistant captain if you don't pick me?’ So I put it out there,” Watson said after his opening round at the Tour Championship "I want to be a part of the team no matter what."

(The Case for Bubba Watson to Be Team USA's 12th Man)

As Gary Van Sickle put it, "The last guy you want to face in match play is a monstrously long hitter with shotmaking skills, a guy who carves wedge shots like a chef slicing up a Butterball turkey, and a golfer with a homemade swing." Watson also has major credentials that the other options don't offer and perhaps has the highest ceiling in a match play environment because of his massive length and traditionally high birdie rate. Except this year, he's fallen off a bit. In 2014 and 2015, Watson ranked seventh and fourth, respectively, in birdie average. This season, he's slipped to 45th, mainly due to an ice-cold putter. (He's 165th in strokes gained putting.)

To boot, Watson hasn't notched a top-10 since the first week of March.

So even though his stats this year aren't great, Watson is lurking at the Tour Championship after a first-round 72. If he makes a weekend run, he may make Love's decision easy for him. Or his recent play could be too much to overcome. Either way, Bubba just wants to be a part of the team.

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