Emotionally Charged

By Randall MellAugust 13, 2010, 4:34 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Bubba Watson couldn’t believe all the toys he discovered at the house he’s renting near Whistling Straits.

Just ask his new pal Rickie Fowler.

Watson invited Fowler over Tuesday night to check out all the cool stuff he found in the garage.

“There are three kids that live there,” Watson told Fowler.

There were Razor scooters, skateboards and road bikes.

Watson said he and Fowler were trying out the scooters when five kids came riding by.

“Are you the neighborhood gang?” Watson asked the kids. “Can we join you?”

They did. Watson said they cruised the neighborhood as the two newest and biggest members of the gang.

Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson owns a share of the Day 1 lead at the PGA Championship (Getty Images).
“Then we had an ice cream afterwards,” Watson said.

Watson, 31, took the fun inside the ropes jumping into contention in Thursday’s start of the PGA Championship. He says it’s probably the reason he broke through to win his first PGA Tour event this year and why he’s playing better. He’s playing the game instead of working it.

Six weeks ago, on the Tuesday before the Travelers Championship, Watson said he hit about 10 balls at the start of a practice session when he turned to Teddy Scott, his regular caddie.

“You want to go to the water park?” he asked Scott.

So Watson and Scott made like kids playing hookie and bolted to the park.

“The win just showed me that we're onto something, the right thing,” Watson said. “Let's have fun with our lives, and let's have fun with golf. And that whole week I just never thought about winning.”

Anyone who’s followed Watson knows how quirky he can be, how he can run with a new idea. They know the highs and lows he navigates his life and his game through. He can laugh and cry in the same sentence, just as he did after running atop the leaderboard with a 4-under-par 68 in the first round.

Watson wept in front of media explaining why he was so emotional winning the Travelers. He could barely get out the story, choking back tears as he explained the scare his wife, Angie, went through last winter. He told how he was visiting his father, who’s battling throat cancer, when a doctor told his wife that she may have a brain tumor.

Angie, it turns out, was incorrectly diagnosed. Watson said doctors at Duke University determined she merely had an enlarged pituitary gland, but the memory of the scare Thursday brought back the emotions.

“Hopefully, you don’t all think I’m a sissy,” Watson said as he wiped his eyes. “I do hit the ball a long way.”

Watson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, laughed at the crack with everyone else.

The highs and lows Watson took the media through telling that story sums up the emotional nature of the man himself, but Watson says he’s working to change that.

Watson’s regular caddie, Teddy Scott, threatened to quit if Watson didn’t get better control of the anger in his game.

“My mental game just went away, went somewhere,” Watson said. “I don't know where it went. Luckily, I found it. But I was mad at every shot. I wasn't happy.

“My big sin in life is that on the golf course I was miserable. My wife was telling me this all the time, but my caddie, my good friend, came to me and said, `You're miserable, you need to find something else to do, or caddie for a little bit and see how hard it really is when your player is this mad.’

“And so it was a slap in the face. When one of your best friends tells that you you're going at life all wrong, it's obvious that you're doing something wrong.”

Watson had fun making six birdies and two bogeys in Thursday’s first round.

Not bad considering he barely got any sleep the night before. His inner child kept him up playing the Angry Birds video games on his iPhone. He said he was too excited about Thursday's start of the PGA Championship to sleep.

“My wife was yelling at me to go to bed,” Watson said. “This morning she knew I was tired. She knew I was, what's the nice word to say? Angry. I wasn't myself this morning when I woke up. So she told me just to eat something and make sure you have enough energy.”

Energy? Ask Spaniard Alvaro Quiros about Watson’s energy.

Paired with Quiros, Watson put on a show. At the 15th, Quiros hit one of those rockets that make him the longest hitter on the European Tour. Watson, though, bombed his drive 5 yards past Quiros.

'At the fifth hole, Bubba hit a sand wedge 135 yards,” said Mark Carens, who stepped in to caddie for Watson this week. “A sand wedge.”

Carens, like everyone else in golf, knew Watson was long, but he marveled seeing it close up. Carens, who regularly caddies for James Driscoll, stepped in this week to replace Scott with Scott taking time off to be with his wife and their newborn baby boy.

At 11th hole, Carens said Watson hit a 380-yard drive that would have gone farther if it hadn’t run into a bunker. Still, Watson, a man of many conflicting qualities, takes pride in that he can play with so much finesse. He loves to shape shots as much as he loves to bomb drives.

At the 16th hole, standing on a downhill lie in stamped down fescue, hit a delicate flop shot from 40 yards to 2 feet to set up his last birdie. It elicited howls from the gallery as loud as any accompanying his monster drives.

At the 17th, Watson hacked out of a gnarly lie on the cliff above Lake Michigan to save par.

Watson’s finesse was there, too, in the nine one-putts that distinguished this round more than any of his big drives.

“This job is fun to me,” Watson said. “If I would have shot 82 today, I wouldn’t have gone home to pout.”

Reporters who have seen Watson wave off interview requests while stomping away after a bad round will wonder about that, but Watson says he’s more determined to leave his bad shots behind.

Why go home and brood when there’s a neighborhood gang waiting for you with scooters, skateboards or bikes.

Major championships aren't supposed to be fun, but Watson will be aiming to change that this week.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm