Like him or not, if Bubba is anything, he's honest

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2016, 7:46 pm

Bubba Watson can ramble. He can be reticent. He can be defensive and self-deprecating, often times in the same sentence. 

The man from Bagdad, Fla., can even open up, given the subject matter, like he did on Sunday at Riviera Country Club following his ninth PGA Tour victory.

As only he can, Watson explained that his poor play prior to his triumph at the Northern Trust Open - he finished tied for 70th the week before in Pebble Beach and 14th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open - was the byproduct of an inflammatory headline in a local newspaper the week of the Scottsdale event.

“It was a bad headline that said I didn't like the community, I didn't like the golf tournament, which was a lie, which I'm going to say. I'm man enough to take the bad press now,” Watson said.

The headline, which ran on AZcentral.com and in the Arizona Republic, read “Bubba Watson on TPC Scottsdale: ‘I don’t like it all.’”

What Watson actually said on Tuesday before the tournament was, “I don’t like it (the golf course). I’m not going to PC it. I don’t like it at all. I just mentioned why I’m here. I’ve got three beautiful sponsors that love it here.”

Whatever your interpretation of the incident, which in retrospect has the feel of a runaway case of splitting hairs, or ywhatever our views on Watson, he is honest, sometimes to a fault. Even on Sunday in Los Angeles after initially suggesting he had no culpability in the media melee born from his own comments, Watson acknowledged that he has a tendency to run through stop signs when the microphones are on.



It’s a trait he’s come by honestly.

“My default is my dad always told me to tell the truth, so if I don’t like something, I’m going to tell the truth,” Watson said.

While Watson’s personality leaves plenty of subject matter for armchair psychiatrists, the truth is that his is a psyche far too complex for even the most astute layman.

The truly remarkable aspect of Bubba – besides, of course, his unorthodox and entertaining style of play – is how forthright he can be. As a general rule, professional athletes tend to be guarded and often revert to clichés to maintain their competitive firewalls.

But that’s not Bubba.

“I have a lot of fears in my life, which as I'm reading the Bible, I'm not supposed to have, but I do. I'm human,” Watson admitted on Sunday at Riviera. “A lot of those fears come out on the golf course. Big crowds, just people, people touching me, people yelling at me. Just, I want to go and hide. So I'm getting better at that. I'm trying to.

“I don't like change. I don't know what it is. When my shirt doesn't feel right, things like that, I just don't know how to deal with certain situations in my life.”

While Watson may go beyond the normal parameters of being candid, he’s hardly the only Tour type willing to reach deep down when asked a complex question.

Just last week Rory McIlroy was asked how his competitive side manifests itself in the rest of his life and whether he struggles to maintain a healthy balance between what he does inside and outside the ropes.

“I definitely don't struggle with it now. I think it probably changed when I became more comfortable in my own skin and sort of knew who I was,” he said. “There's a transitional period from a teenager getting out on Tour to your early 20s and you're still sort of discovering yourself and sort of knowing who you are and what you are.

“So I think somewhere in that time period, I learned that it's OK to be a winner. It's OK to be selfish at times.”

McIlroy went on to explain that there are times when he wrestles with his success and the relative ease of his climb to the top of his profession.

“Sometimes I feel like I haven't had to work as hard to get to where I am as some other people,” he said. “I don't know if that's guilt or if that's questioning, 'Why is that me? Why am I the one that feels this way?' But I feel now that I definitely have got a ruthlessness on the course that I maybe didn't have a few years ago, but I never struggle with that anymore.”

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth has shown a similar sincerity and willingness to provide a glimpse into his psyche, something players of previous generations have been reluctant to disclose.

Tiger Woods rarely allowed anyone a look behind the walls he created early in career. Vijay Singh was even more guarded despite a story that was made for the big screen, having grown up with few opportunities in Fiji only to become the world’s top-ranked player and a major champion.

For players like Watson and McIlroy, however, acknowledging weaknesses and fears, the same kind of issues that everyone deals with, comes naturally.

Their play on the golf course makes it easy to cheer for them, but it’s their personalities and their willingness to be honest that make them human.

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.”

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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