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Bubba Watson to skip Players Championship

Bubba Watson of the U.S. tees off on the 16th hole during second round play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA golf tournament in Orlando, Florida March 23, 2012.

DAVID MANNING/DAVID MANNING/REUTERS

Masters champion Bubba Watson says he is skipping next week's Players Championship in order to spend more time with his recently adopted son.

"I've decided to pull out of the Players. I need to spend more time with Caleb and Angie, plan to take at least a month off," Watson tweeted. "The Players is one of the best weeks of the year but bonding with my son and wife is what it is all about right now."

The news is a blow to the PGA Tour and its flagship tournament, which has the largest purse in golf and typically attracts the strongest and deepest field of the year.

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"Sorry to disappoint fans but ...the tourney is more than fine without me. I am lucky to play golf for a living, it allows me to pick my own schedule. I am blessed that I get to spend more family time."

Watson and his wife Angie adopted a son named Caleb just a few weeks before the Masters. At Augusta, he spoke of how he wanted to be home with his new family but his wife convinced him to go and prepare for the PGA's first major of the season. Watson went on to win the green jacket in a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen.

Three weeks after winning his first major, Watson returned to try and defend his title at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He finished tied for 18th on Sunday and subsequently pulled out of this week's Wells Fargo Championship.

"We respect Bubba's decision in light of the unique and life-changing circumstances of the past month," PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said in a statement. "His focus on his family is admirable, as was his decision to honor his commitment to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as defending champion. We look forward to having him back on the tour soon."

This marks the second time in five years that the Masters champion has not played in the Players Championship. Back in 2008, Trevor Immelman became ill on the eve of the tournament and returned home to Orlando.

Also confirming he would skip the Players is Dustin Johnson, who has been sidelined with a back injury since the Masters.

"Obviously, I am very disappointed to miss THE PLAYERS Championship, as it's our championship and a special week," Johnson said in a statement. "However, after several weeks of rest and rehab on my back, I am excited to finally be feeling better and have been cleared to get back to work. It's been a much longer road than I expected."

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Johnson aggravated his ailing back lifting a jet ski at his home in Jupiter, Fla., the week before the Masters.

"I can promise you, I won't be doing any more heavy lifting, other than in the gym," said Johnson. "I've learned a valuable and expensive lesson the hard way."

Johnson has been plagued by ongoing back pain since returning in January following arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee.

Files from the Associated Press were used in this report

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