Notes Bubba Power Debuts Wie Licensed to Drive

RSS

Bubba Watson made an impressive PGA Tour debut at the Sony Open on two fronts.
 
He shot 66-65 on the weekend to finish alone in fourth, the best start by a Nationwide Tour graduate since Jeff Maggert tied for fifth in 1991 at the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson.
 
Watson also used Waialae as a stage to introduce his power.
 
And it's something to behold.
 
His biggest tee shot was 398 yards on the par-4 12th, which left a pitch to the green. He used wedge for his second shot into the par-5 18th.
 
Where does this lefty get his power? He started playing when he was 6 and used a whiffle ball around the house.
 
'To hit a whiffle ball farther, you had to swing longer, like John Daly, and just hit it has hard as you could. It would only go that much farther,' Watson said, holding his hands about 3 feet apart. 'But as a 6-year-old, you thought that was a long way. That's what got me started.'
 
And he's not shy talking about his length.
 
Hank Kuehne owns the PGA Tour record by averaging 321.4 yards in 2003. Scott Hend led the tour in driving distance last year at 318.9 yards.
 
'John Daly or Hank Kuehne or Scott Hend, I don't think they can hang with me when I'm hitting it,' Watson said. 'If I hit my best, there's not too many people that can get within shouting distance.'
 
PASSING THE TEST
Three days after she missed the cut in the Sony Open, 16-year-old Michelle Wie made it through an exam that really mattered.
 
She passed her driver's license test Tuesday.
 
'She is a very happy girl today,' said her father, B.J. Wie.
 
RYDER CUP MOVEMENT
The points system for the U.S. Ryder Cup was changed in late 2004 to place more emphasis on the year leading up to the matches. In case players forgot, the first two weeks should get their attention.
 
Vaughn Taylor was fourth at the Mercedes Championships, which shot him up to seventh in the standings. David Toms won the Sony Open, more than doubled his points and went from sixth to third.
 
PGA Tour victories, worth 75 points in 2005, are now worth 375 points. The rest of the positions from second through 10th have quadrupled in value this year.
 
Aside from Tiger Woods, who managed to accrue 1,932.5 points last year while winning six times and two majors, no one is safe. Chris DiMarco has been touted as the perfect partner for Phil Mickelson, but he already has fallen to sixth and hasn't won a PGA Tour event since 2002.
 
Considering the Ryder Cup emphasis on winning, this might be a good year to change that.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.