Bubba's life has changed since Augusta, but he's still the same guy

By Jason SobelMay 29, 2012, 7:07 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – He was admittedly never a big fan of school, so the good news for Bubba Watson on Tuesday was that an interview session with the media that essentially became a “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay was administered as an oral exam.

And the Masters champion passed with flying colors.

Whereas most professional golfers hold press conferences in which they simply answer whatever questions are being asked, Watson’s have a knack for turning into three-act plays. He laughs, he cries. He pontificates and stumbles. He produces more ebbs and flows than an upside-down roller coaster.

In advance of this week’s Memorial Tournament – just his second PGA Tour start since claiming the green jacket at Augusta National eight weeks ago – Watson was equal parts beaming and teary-eyed while discussing all of the events that have transpired in his life since that major championship victory.

He intimated that’s it’s been an extraordinarily busy time, as he and wife Angie adopted a son, Caleb, in March, though it’s a procedure that isn’t yet finalized.

“You know, it's just a long process with the court systems, the governments, the states, different laws,” Watson said. “We're adopting a child from Florida. Our main residence is in Arizona, so there are just different laws we have to battle with – not 'battle,' but we have to deal with certain laws and do everything the right way, so it takes a lot of time. The situation popped in our life really quick, and we accepted it, and we just haven't been through all the paperwork yet, so now we're just battling through it.”

While that remains foremost among their thoughts over the past few months, Bubba maintained that the adoption process is hardly the only thing keeping them busy.

“A lot of stuff is still going on in my life,” he continued. “The adoption is still not finalized. We're trying to move into a new house. Haven't found the house we want to move into in Orlando, but we've been searching all the time. Seems like we've looked at so many houses. We're trying to sell our other two houses. All these things are going on in our life. Then we won a major championship.

“The kid was more important. Took four years to process, some bad health, some moving states, all these kind of things. A lot of stuff going on in our life, a lot of positive things, nothing bad, a lot of positive. But it's just different changes.”

While competing in just the Zurich Classic since the Masters win, Watson has also spent time in his hometown of Milton, Fla., visiting and celebrating with family and friends.

“It was nice to go home right around Mother's Day,” he said. “My sister hadn't seen Caleb yet. The two nephews hadn't seen Caleb. My close friends, the people I still work with and deal with on a daily basis down there. It was nice to go back. I didn't really pick up on they didn't believe I could do it or think I could do it. It was just fun to be there and celebrate.

“I had a private dinner one night at a location and had about 20 people there, my close friends, and it was good to be back and just tell them that this was for them, Hiram Cook, who gave me my first 9-iron, first time I saw him, gave him a hug and said thank you. It was good to go back and do that and be there with people who supported me through all this time and actually pull the shot off and win the green jacket. It was just about celebrating with them and making sure they knew it was all for them and it wasn't just me winning the jacket, it was them winning, as well.”

With that jacket, Watson has found a greater demand on his time recently.

“Everybody – not in a mean way – everybody wants something from you,” he contended. “’Can you help this? Can you help that?’ You've got to say no. It's not that you're being mean. You've got to have time for yourself, with your wife, with your child. Manager seems like he wants a lot of time, as well.”

How does Bubba counteract such responsibilities? Mostly by remaining at home, where he can control such interaction.

“You can turn your phone off or lock down yourself at Isleworth and nobody can get to you,” he said. “Just spend time with the family, play golf when I want to. It's been a good thing. It's been relaxing, rewarding. It's been fun.”

Ah, yes. Let’s not forget about what elevated Watson to this position in the first place. That would be golf – and while he hasn’t been grinding on the range as much as usual, he has been teeing it up more lately.

“Last month, I took two-and-a-half weeks off exactly, and then hit balls a little bit, played a little bit,” he added. “So I've probably really put in about three days of good, hard practice over the last month the last couple days, not as much as I wanted to, just tired. It's a different tired than we're used to, having a child. A lot of different things going on. My mind works differently, as we know throughout the years, so for me my mind is racing any time you hear noise, any time you hear something.”

All of which leads to a quixotic self-assessment in advance of the Memorial. Though he hasn’t competed much recently, Watson still feels comfortable with his game and is looking forward to a successful week.

“Whoa,” he stated when asked his expectations for this event. “To play all four days hopefully. My expectations are high. Top 25, top 20.  My worst finish is 18th, so I want to keep that going. I've had some good finishes lately. My mind has been in the right spot lately, so hopefully I can keep that going.  … Sunday afternoon I want to have a chance to win a golf tournament.”

That remains to be seen, but on Tuesday afternoon – in the interview room just off the 18th green here at Muirfield Village – Watson displayed as many emotions and creative responses as he does in a full round of drawing and fading shots from the trees.

It left him with a sterling grade on his oral examination.

Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.