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Bubba Watson officially signs with LIV Golf; won’t play until 2023

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was introduced Friday as the latest signee with LIV Golf.

Watson, who hasn’t played since May as he recovers from surgery on his right knee, is not expected to play in the LIV Golf League until 2023. But he will serve as a non-playing captain at the next tournament, which is scheduled for Sept. 2-4 outside Boston.

Watson, who turns 44 in November, hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2018. He has fallen to No. 86 in the world, finishing in the top 10 just once this year in nine worldwide starts (a runner-up at the Saudi International).

After contending early at the PGA Championship, the left-hander opted to undergo surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. In an interview during LIV’s YouTube telecast, Watson said that he will likely resume hitting balls in mid-October and should be 100% “in a couple of months.” The final LIV event of the year is scheduled for Oct. 27-30 at Trump Doral.

When asked about his decision to join the rival tour, Watson pointed to his desire to “grow the game” and said that he enjoys the team component.

“You’re having people on the team – it’s not an individual sport anymore,” he said.

On Twitter, Watson said that he was “looking forward to being a part of an exciting new concept in professional golf and seeing how it evolves.” The 12-time Tour winner added that he was “forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me through the PGA Tour.”

Despite declining performance, Watson ranked 10th in the Tour’s Player Impact Program, which is designed to identify the top needle-movers in the sport. With Watson leaving for LIV, five of the top 10 in those 2021 standings now have signed on with the upstart league.

Seven of the last 13 Masters champions are also now members of LIV Golf, as Watson won at Augusta National in both 2012 and ’14.