Watson Does His Good Deed on Champions


The Champions Tour instituted sweeping new rules last season to make it more fan-friendly. As Tom Watson prepares to tee it up in the Kinkos Classic this week (The Golf Channel Fri. - Sun. 5 & 9 p.m. ET), he feels hes done his share for this year. And maybe for next year, too.
Well, not really. Watson is the sort of guy whos always ready to chat, almost always ready to sign an autograph. And last week at the Brunos Memorial Classic near Birmingham, Ala., he proved it once again on pro-am day.
I had the distinct pleasure of playing with Charles Sir Charles Barkley and Bo Jackson, announced Watson. Barkley, of course, is the former pro basketball player and now an NBA commentator. Jackson is a former two-sport star in pro football and pro baseball. Both played collegiately at Auburn University.
Actually, Charles showed some improvement. I couldnt believe it, said Watson, feigning surprise.
Barkley, of course, earned a reputation as a great basketball player, but a golfer of dubious skills. Watson had a lot of fun partnering with the pair throughout the day.
Can Watson describe Barkleys swing? Actually, it defies description, said Watson. Hes got the yips on the downswing. Ive never seen it before as long as Ive been playing golf.
Watson is only the latest pro to experience the Barkley Shuffle. Oh, hes played with all the greats hes played with Tiger, Nicklaus, Palmer, everybody. Weve all tried, he said.
I said one thing to him today. I said, Close your eyes when you get to the top of your swing. Just close your eyes. Try it.
It didnt work.
Watson hopes desperately that Barkley, who was quite agile and athletic as a basketball player, can become a good golfer. Barkley has become a frequent performer at these pro-ams since he retired from basketball.
Actually I admire the guy because he comes out on the golf course, puts his game ' if you can call it a game ' for public harassment, said Watson.
People seem to know what to expect. Hes probably the only guy that I really do see the amateurs make a wide berth for. The fans ' they start moving when they see Charles moving to the tee box.
But I admire him a lot for sticking with it and taking the laughs with a grain of salt. Actually, he made a par the day we played.
Watson was surprised to witness Barkleys dedication to golf. Its obvious Barkley has studied golf religiously. He has picked up too much of the finer points, and at times he shows an understanding of the game that is ' well, shocking.
I watched how he lines up ' he lines up like Nicklaus, he takes a point in front of the ball, sometimes the ball doesnt get to that point ' but he aims the clubhead right over that point, said Watson. And then he moves up to the target. Thats the way Jack does it.
So he does want to be a better player than he is. And he does understand the game. Hes very observant. He reminds me a lot of Trevino, the way he observes people and the way hes aware of whats going on around him all the time. Hes constantly in touch with his environment.
Watson is playing in only his fourth Champions Tour event this week in Austin, though he plans to play much more as his three children wrap up their school. His $148,967 money earned places him 38th on the money list.
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