COMMENTARY | With the Masters less than a month away, the tiny Florida panhandle community of Milton is back in the news.
Bubba Watson, who grew up in nearby Bagdad and attended Milton High School, is poised to defend his Green Jacket at Augusta National. But it's former neighbor Boo Weekley that's the buzz of the PGA Tour at this particular moment.
Golf needs more characters like Boo, who offered these quips to the press after grabbing the clubhouse lead at the Tampa Bay Championship with a sizzling final round 8-under-par 63 over Innisbrook's nasty Copperhead course.
When asked how he would spend the three hours until the leaders finished: "Ain't got a clue yet. You asking me on a date?"
Later he revealed that he was "just eatin' some pizza man..watching some golf.. just waitin' around to see what happens."
On what he planned to do instead of sticking around for a possible playoff: "I was going to go catch me some bass in Orlando, but that's fine, I'll wait around."
He had to wait three hours to see Kevin Streelman finish a stroke better and win the tournament, but Weekley's second-place showing was his best since we saw him ride his driver off the tee during the United States' romp over Europe in the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Weekley was 2-0-1 that week in Louisville, Kentucky but hasn't won since. He hasn't finished higher than 71st on the FedEx Cup points list during that span and didn't even make the playoffs in 2011. Injuries have slowed him down the last several years, but Weekley sounded like a new man in Tampa Bay.
"Just now starting to get comfortable again, healthy again, to where I felt like I could actually hit the shots that I see,'' he said after the final round. "It's probably taken every bit of about eight months now [to get back to hitting good shots]."
His runner-up finish in Tampa Bay follows a T8 at the Puerto Rico Championship and T25 at the Honda Classic despite a weekend swoon.
"It's fun again,'' Weekley said of his recent play. "The last three weeks has been the funnest golf I've had in the last three years since [new caddie Barry Williams] has been on the bag."
Now is a good time of the year for Weekley to get well. He's playing this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is apparently close to that Orlando fishin' hole Boo was fixin' to get to before waiting out Streelman's win. So he should be in a good mood through Sunday.
And the RBC Heritage, the site of Weekley's only two PGA Tour wins as well as three other top 13 finishes, is coming up the week after the Masters.
At this point, Weekley does not have an invitation to the Masters but with his ball striking leaving plenty of tap-in birdies, it's not out of the realm of possibilities to see him in the winner's circle in the next three weeks.
Boo admits his strong play snuck up on him like a rattler in the swamp. "I've been hitting it okay, but now I finally got it all together at one time and started making some putts," he said. "It felt good today, actually see it and believe it. Like I've seen a lot of shots that I actually visualized before I even pulled a trigger on it. It was impressive."
What would be more impressive for golf fans everywhere is to see more of Boo Weekley in contention on Sundays. His genuine personality is a welcome counterpoint to the grim-faced grinders that frequent the tour.
Weekley, for one, is keen on seeing the good play continue, saying, "I'm getting there. I'm close. I mean, maybe, you know, a couple more showings to get myself believing even more, and then be back, maybe trying that Ryder Cup out again, you never know."
Maybe that's what the USA needs to end their Ryder Cup drought: Boo Weekley riding shotgun down the fairways of the PGA Centenary course in Gleneagles, Scotland, for the 2014 matches.
Mark McLaughlin has reported on the PGA Tour for FoxSports.com, the Greensboro News & Record, Burlington (N.C.) Times-News and New York Post. He is a past member of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association. Follow him on Twitter @markmacduke.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boo Weekley
- PGA Tour