The untold story: Bubba and the $10,000 ring

By Doug FergusonFebruary 26, 2013, 7:43 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – The artistic, majestic wedge out of the trees and onto the 10th green at Augusta National. The tearful celebration. Slipping into that beautiful green jacket for the first time in Butler Cabin. The trophy presentation.

Bubba Watson finally had a chance to catch his breath when he sat down for dinner to honor the latest Masters champion.

And that's when it hit him.

''We're all upstairs at the dinner and he said, 'Dude, do you realize what this means?''' caddie Ted Scott recalled. ''And we're thinking, 'Yeah, Bubba. You're The Masters champion. This is a pretty big deal.' He stops dead in his tracks and he says, 'I've got to buy Paul that ring.' ''

Paul Tesori, the caddie for Webb Simpson, was listening to the playoff on the radio while driving home to Florida when Watson made his incredible escape and beat Louis Oosthuizen with a par. Tesori smiled when he thought about the ring and wondered if Watson even remembered his promise.

Leave it to Watson to have instant recall of such an insignificant moment compared with the magnitude of winning the Masters.

There are 350 varieties of more than 80,000 plants at Augusta National, but only one palm tree on the golf course. It now takes on new meaning for Watson, a reminder of how he ruined a caddie's bet with his wife over a wedding ring and made up for it by winning a green jacket.

It all started when Simpson had an extra ticket for the practice round that he gave to Tesori's wife, Michelle. Tesori was so excited about her first trip to the Masters that, as they drove to Augusta and he raved about the beauty of the golf course, he served up a challenge.

''I said, 'Honey, one of the cool things is that there's one palm tree on the property and half the players don't even know where it is. If you can find the palm tree, anything you want is yours,''' Tesori said.

She had been asking about a diamond ring that cost $10,000 and would complete her wedding band. Tesori figured he would buy it whenever Simpson won his next golf tournament, but he got caught up in the moment and offered that as the reward.

They played nine holes that Wednesday with the regular group – Watson, Simpson and Rickie Fowler. Jason Day joined them on the first tee, but his wrist was a little sore and so the Australian left them after three holes.

The lone palm at Augusta is tucked away to the right of the green on the par-3 fourth hole. This was the big moment.

And that's when Tesori made his first big mistake.

''Paul was talking to Bubba about it and I'm thinking to myself, 'This is not a good idea,''' Simpson said.

Sure enough, Watson had no clue about the only palm at Augusta National. And when he heard the deal Tesori had with his wife, Watson couldn't help himself.

''My best recollection is Bubba being his normal self and throwing Paul under the bus,'' Fowler said. ''There are certain secrets Bubba can keep if they need to be kept secret. But if it's something along the lines of a bet, and nothing that can hurt you too bad – like a $10,000 ring – that's out the door.''

Watson found the palm and began making a scene, his voice getting louder as he pointed to the tree.

Tesori urged him to keep it down, which only egged on Watson, who continued to raise his voice and point to the palm. Tesori's only hope was that his wife was far enough back in the crowd and couldn't see – or hear – what Watson was doing. But when the caddie reached the green and looked to the left, he was doomed.

''I found my wife in the crowd,'' he said. ''She's got her arms up in the air in a V formation, jumping up and down. And Bubba thinks it's the greatest thing in the world.''

Tesori felt otherwise.

''His face ... he looked like he was in shock,'' Scott, the caddie, said.

In some respects, it was like the Old Testament story of Samson offering to buy linen garments and a set of clothes for his 30 wedding guests if they could solve his riddle. The guests pressured his wife to get the answer, and they solved it on the last night of the wedding feast. Samson was so angry he killed 30 men and took their garments to pay off the bet.

This was just a ring.

And the man who ruined it all was the first to come to the rescue.

''I said, 'Hey, you lost. You better go down there and hug it,''' Watson said he told Tesori, meaning the tree. ''He was mad. He said, 'Why would you do that?' So I told him, 'Hey, if I win this week, I'll buy it.' Webb said he'd do it and Rickie said he'd do it, too. And then we totally forgot about it.''

Tesori was thrilled for Watson when the Masters ended that night – and so was his wife.

''She said I should send him a text,'' Tesori said. ''I said, no, I don't want to do that. He's not going to remember, and I would never even bring it up. I'm rooting for Bubba because he's a friend of mine.''

The next morning, he received a direct message on Twitter from Scott, who was with Watson during the hours after his Masters win. He told him about Watson's reaction that Sunday night when he remembered the ring.

''The look on Bubba's face was about the same look as Paul's face when she saw the tree,'' Scott said.

Watson never thought twice about his end of the bargain.

''If someone said you had to pay $10,000 to win the Masters? Shoot, everybody would do that,'' he said.

Even better, when Michelle Tesori went to the jewelry store and told the story, the owner knocked 25 percent off the price.

It's just a coincidence, but in the months after that practice round, Watson had a green jacket, Fowler won his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow, and Simpson followed with his first major championship at the U.S. Open. Too bad Day, the other player in their group, left early.

''It was a cool experience,'' Fowler said. ''For the three of us, we have that memory to look back on with that ring, because all three of us ended up having a pretty good year. That ring symbolizes something.''

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''