Boo Knows Bubba

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA | Boo Weekley was busy on the Sunday that Bubba Watson was winning The Masters.
Weekley was traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the annual Hootie and the Blowfish Monday After The Masters blowout and caught exactly one swing as it was happening, seeing Watson miss a putt on the 72nd hole at Augusta National that would have avoided the two extra holes it took for Watson to cement himself as golf’s new hero to the common man.
Though he watched it on replay later, Weekley didn’t need to see the details to appreciate what the lanky, jumpy guy he’d grown up playing golf with did at Augusta National. Boo could have told you that Bubba could hook a ball 40 yards out of the trees onto a sloping green with a major championship on the line.
He could have told you that what the world watched at The Masters, he’d seen years ago in and around the tiny panhandle town of Milton, Fla., where Weekley, Watson and Heath Slocum learned the game that made them enormously successful.
Maybe Watson’s game was raw back in those Milton High days, when he routinely rifled tee shots over the Weekleys’ house in the corner of a dogleg at Tanglewood Golf and Country Club, but it’s not exactly polished to a Tiffany shine these days. Watson plays golf on the wild side, untamed and unabashedly confident golf that stretches the game’s conventions like few ever have.
“You can’t deny the kid’s got one of the best golf games out there. It’s crazy the shots he can hit,” Weekley said, standing under the clubhouse at the Harbour Town Golf Links.
“People don’t understand. We’ve been seeing those shots since he was 13. We have. People are just now getting to know how good this joker really is. He’s got every shot out there.”
Weekley is five years older than Watson, closer to Slocum than Watson. Theirs is a remarkable tale of three guys from the same high school – Milton High – not only making it to the PGA Tour but winning. It’s not like they come from a metropolis. Watson is technically from Bagdad, Fla., which is a suburb of Milton, if there is such a thing. All together, the towns might have 10,000 residents.
But Watson spent two days after his Masters victory on a media blitz through New York City, appearing on a handful of television shows, telling his unlikely story in his unique way.
Weekley, meanwhile, went back to work at the RBC Heritage, where he won his only two PGA Tour events (in 2007 and 2008). Back then, Weekley was the star with his down-home humor, as natural as fresh corn. His game has faded in recent years, in part due to a shoulder problem, while Watson has won four times, starting with his breakthrough victory at the Travelers Championship in Hartford in the summer of 2010.
Weekley has never strayed far from home. He lives in Jay, Fla., not far from Milton, where he has enough land to be himself. Watson married and split time between Scottsdale, Ariz., and Lexington, N.C. His lakefront North Carolina home is on the market while he and his wife, Angie, settle in with their adopted baby boy, Caleb, in a rented house near Orlando, Fla.
“(Winning the Masters is) a great feat and a lot of people back home were pulling for him,” Weekley said. “I just hope he appreciates the people back home that do still pull for him even though he doesn’t think nobody likes him back home.”
Weekley said if Watson returns to the Milton area, “he just comes to see his family.” Without getting specific, Weekley says, “There’s some things he handled different than he should have handled them,” but stops there.
“He’s a good kid. He’s got a good heart.”
While Watson has climbed to No. 4 in the world rankings, Weekley is working to restore his game to its former glory. He was never an overpowering player but Weekley has been a solid ball-striker, capable of good runs when his putting has been sharp. Last year, Weekley made just 11 of 25 cuts and fell out of the top 125 despite leading the Tour in greens in regulation.
Late last year, Weekley had a procedure done on his troublesome left shoulder. A tie for third at the Puerto Rico Open last month was solid evidence that the old Boo was returning and a tie for 14th at the Shell Houston Open reinforced his confidence. As much as Weekley loves to hunt and fish, he’s not ready to retire from competitive golf.
“I’m feeling so much better about my game. Last year I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing in my swing and where I was trying to get the ball to go,” Weekley said.
So while Bubba Watson was winning The Masters, Weekley had the week off before heading to Myrtle Beach and, then, to Harbour Town, where the narrow, tree-lined fairways remind him of home. Weekley feels good again, both for Watson and for himself.
“So far, it’s been a great year,” Weekley said. “I’m ready to play some golf.”


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