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.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.