There's another side to Bubba Watson

By Jason SobelJanuary 31, 2014, 10:01 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Here in the middle of golf’s biggest party, somewhere within the maelstrom of debauchery and frenzy and madness, amongst the inebriated masses and around the overzealous partygoers, a shocking contradiction sits atop the leaderboard.

Bubba Watson is a favorite of these jam-packed galleries. He’s a former resident of the area, a Masters champion, an absurdly long hitter, an outwardly emotional soul and – let’s face it – who doesn’t like rooting for a dude named Bubba?

And yet, if the thousands of fans loudly chanting his name think they’re simply cheering a guy like them, one who would join the party if he weren’t performing in front of it, they’re highly mistaken. That’s because as the festivities rage on, Watson has used this week as his own personal paean to their antithesis.

On Monday, there he was at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, checking out the state’s first pediatric gait lab, for which Ping Golf had donated $250,000 last year from a campaign developed around Watson. When it was found the project was still $110,000 short of its goal, Watson chipped in the remainder of the funds.

Waste Management Phoenix Open: Articles, videos and photos

On Thursday, while tipsy fans crowed for his autograph nearby, he cited Bible verses as reasoning for being, as he called it, content with his circumstances.

On Friday, he met with two families, winners of the “Bubba Fan Flyaway” contest on Twitter, each – like Bubba and wife Angie - with an adopted child, their stories serving as inspiration to him as much as the other way around. After that, he was off to the Phoenix-based Desert Mission Food Bank, where along with friends and relatives he would put together snackpacks for schoolchildren whose families didn’t have the means to feed them nutritious meals during the weekends.

“Instead of giving money,” he said after hearing about the program, “I wanted to do it, too.”

In between all of these charitable endeavors, Watson also played a little golf, following an opening-round 64 with a 66 to grab a share of the Waste Management Phoenix Open lead alongside Matt Jones.

While it’s easy to spot the contrast between the legions of spectators using the tournament as just a warm-up act for the Birds Nest nightlife and Watson’s contributions, he points out that they’re all part of the same end goal.

“I think if you really look deep into it and not worry about what people are doing, the money that is being raised for charity at this event equals out to the same thing I'm doing,” he said. “I think this is one that's giving away a pretty good lump sum of money for charity.”

“That’s why the Thunderbirds do all of this; I think a lot of people lose sight of that,” agrees Angie. “What goes on at 16 raises more money for charity than any other hole on the PGA Tour. That’s really what it stands for.”

Maybe the abundance of off-course diversions this week has helped on the course for Watson, who has confessed a self-diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.

In Friday’s second round, he carded seven birdies against just two bogeys in his continuing search for another victory following the Masters triumph of two years ago. That’s what happens when you pair leading the field in driving distance (at a whopping 340 yards per drive) with a second-place position in putting average – a symbiotic combination if ever there was one.

“Everything is clicking right now,” he explained. “I played really well last week, just didn't make the putts. This time I'm playing well and some of the putts are dropping.”

“He’s doing everything well, honestly,” concurred Ted Scott, his longtime caddie. “There’s really no weakness in his game right now. He’s thinking well, hitting well, chipping well, putting well. Those two bogeys we had, we thought both of them were great shots. Good chips, good putts – sometimes they just don’t go.”

As Watson ruminated on his place on the leaderboard, he appeared fatigued, melancholy, maybe even a bit agitated.

“No, I'm just tired,” he allowed. “Very happy where I am. Who would not be happy? There's a lot of guys going home who wish they were right there. I'm very happy with that. Just tired.”

It’s a feeling with which plenty of people here at golf’s biggest party can relate. As the debauchery and frenzy and madness swirls all around him, though, the man who shares the midway lead is keeping himself busy in much different ways.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick


5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.

The second is from Sunday night.

And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.