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Evolution of Bubba continues at PGA Championship

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Masters champion Bubba Watson is a father – officially. The adoption of son Caleb was finalized Monday after months of paperwork, and now the big-hitting left-hander finally can shift his focus to capturing bookend majors here at the PGA Championship.

“A lot of people go through (the adoption process), but trying to travel across the country and playing golf made it a little bit more difficult,” Watson said Tuesday at Kiawah Island. “But somehow it all worked out, and now we’re parents, I guess.”

Since his breakthrough victory at Augusta National in April, Watson has just one top-10 finish in six starts as he learns to balance family life with his professional one. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, where he mindlessly bashed away with driver while playing alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. A month later, however, he implemented a more conservative game plan at Royal Lytham, and he was in contention before a final-round 74.

That tactical approach seems to have carried over to rain-drenched Kiawah Island, as well. Instead of just ripping the pink driver out of the bag on each hole, he says he’s more deliberate in his decision-making off the tees here. Said Watson, “There’s just little mistakes that I’m doing that I’m trying to get better at. This week, I’m just looking at certain holes that I want to attack, getting ready for certain winds, no wind, what I’m going to do on certain tees.” Yes, much like the transition to fatherhood, Bubba’s golf game is evolving, too.

Consider Watson one of the players to watch this week at Kiawah, not least for his awe-inspiring drives. He has had success at visually demanding Pete Dye courses in the past – he lost in a playoff in the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits – and the longest course in major-championship history (7,676 yards) should set up well for the game’s longest hitter.

Still beaming from the news Monday, though, Watson appeared to take more enjoyment in discussing his growing family than his growing profile in the game.

“I’m here to play golf. I want to play golf. I enjoy the game of golf,” Watson said. “I want the challenge to beat everybody, but at the same time I want to be a good husband and a good dad.

“How do I balance it? Time will tell. You know, if I never play golf again, I can still be a great dad. Golf is there, but I’m not going to pout when I go home. I’ll see that little kid smiling and I’ll be happy.”