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PGA SHOW NOTEBOOK: The Nine Holes That Changed Colin Montgomerie’s Life, How Bubba Got His Name, and the Best of Opening Day

ORLANDO – Colin Montgomerie was never supposed to become a professional golfer.

The story, told eloquently by Monty during a SiriusXM Town Hall discussion on day one of the PGA Merchandise Show, started with him growing up in a staunchly conservative Scottish household where it was generally accepted that amateur golf was the only kind of golf anyone should play. To venture into the professional ranks was looked down upon as a risk.

He understood that and decided to pursue an education at Houston Baptist University. When it came time to look for a job, Montgomerie went to interview for a position working for Mark McCormack at the management company IMG.

It wasn’t your standard interview. The day following the Open Championship, the tall Scot met with two senior executives at Turnberry to play nine holes, starting on the back.

“I was doing everything you normally would do in an interview with minding my P’s and Q’s and trying to think of things to say,” Montgomerie said. “I wasn’t really focusing on playing at all.”

He came in with a 29.

“We’re standing on the 18th green and they said, ‘You know, you’re not going to work for us because we’re going to be working for you.’ Everyone has that time in their lives when they were at the right place at the right time, whether it’s meeting your partner or whatever it is. For me, I wouldn’t have turned professional without those nine holes.”

With a renewed confidence and backing from IMG, Montgomerie turned professional in 1987 and would go on to become a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee in 2013. He won 31 European Tour titles, never lost a singles match at the Ryder Cup and is now a major champion in the senior ranks.

I’ve Gotta Find Bubba

Where did Bubba Watson — technically Gerry Lester Watson Jr. — get his name?

The answer is short, and so was the length of time for the decision. Bubba’s father grew up a huge Yankees fan and had his designs on raising a son who would be a pitcher, but when his son was born, the mother and father decided he looked more like a football player.

“I guess my face was all squished up, so they said I looked like I was ready to play football,” Watson explained at the PGA Forum. “So they named me after Bubba Smith. They decided this just a few minutes after I was born.”

While Bubba Smith was the Baltimore Colts’ first overall pick out of Michigan State in 1967 and later went on to star for three National Football League teams, Bubba Watson was forbidden by his parents to play football.

Watson does love watching his University of Georgia Bulldogs play between the hedges at Sanford Stadium, however, and he has a proposition for PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua, a University of Notre Dame alum whose alma mater will host Georgia on Sept. 9.  

“So if Georgia wins, one day I can be Ryder Cup captain,” Watson said, eliciting laughs from the assembled crowd.

The Best of Day One

The 64th PGA Merchandise Show features everything from abnormally large drivers to jetpacks. Check out some of the best tweets of the day:


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