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Inside the Ropes: Weekley looks to put physical ailments behind him in Tampa Bay

The SportsXchange

Boo Weekley's country boy persona still plays well on the PGA Tour.

It's just that his game has not over the last few years, in no small part because of physical ailments.

The 39-year-old Weekley, who is in the field this week at the Tampa Bay Championship, is trying to rediscover the form that took him to his only two PGA Tour victories at the 2007 and 2008 RBC Heritage, in addition to making him a Ryder Cup hero in 2008 at Valhalla.

"The shoulder feels great now, but there are still some problems, some tightness in it," said Weekley, who underwent a third surgery on his left shoulder at the start of last year. "It won't ever get right, I don't think.

" ... It's embarrassing, how is that? Just the way I've been playing the last two years. I don't care if I've been hurt or not."

Last year, when Boo went back to Hilton Head, site of those only two victories, he picked up a tie for sixth on one of his favorite courses, Harbour Town Golf Links, one of his three top-10 finishes in a season that included 10 missed cuts.

Weekley also picked up something else.

"I had cysts in my rectum," said Weekley, an avid hunter who often wears camouflage on the course. "How do you put that?

"I started hurting at Hilton Head on Saturday night. On Sunday, I felt like I could hardly walk. I went over to (the Valero Texas Open), and I couldn't walk at all."

Weekley went home and had a cyst removed in outpatient surgery a week later, but the pain persisted.

An MRI exam revealed an even larger cyst that had to be removed.

"They had to put me out for that one," Weekley said. "I've been fighting ever since then because I've lost all my confidence.

"It will make a big difference in how I feel as a player. My big thing right now is I have no self-esteem on the golf course. I have no confidence on the golf course.

"Ever since I came back from that hiney surgery, that is how I've felt."

However, he did tie for fifth in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World last November and climbed to 108th on the PGA Tour money list to regain his playing privileges for this season.

So far, the results have been promising, despite some inconsistency.

After shooting 72-72--144 to miss the cut in the Sony Open in Hawaii, he has made the cut in each of his last four events, but he hasn't been the same player on the weekends.

Boo is averaging 69.00 for the first two rounds in his five tournaments this season, but is at 71.13 for the last two.

In his last tournament, the Honda Classic, he was right with the leaders when he started 66-67, but Weekley shot 74-75 on the weekend to finish in a tie for 25th, still his best result of the season.

Weekley, who wowed the crowd by galloping off the first tee like Happy Gilmore in the Ryder Cup, is simply trying to relax and let it happen by using breathing techniques that he employs in his hunting.

"I'm trying to learn to be a little more patient, and that's my hardest thing is trying to be patient because everything I've always done has been fast," Weekley told reporters.

"So with the breathing, it slowed me down, it's got me back a little bit to where, not where I'm slow, but it's got me slowing down and more relaxed about what I'm trying to do, thinking about it.

"When I'm shooting my guns long-range, I have to take a deep breath and exhale and blow it out, and then pull the trigger. And that's what we try to work on a little bit."

Weekley, who grew up and lives in the woods on the Florida Panhandle, was able to use that expertise to prevent a possible incident at the Honda.

He spotted and helped move out of danger a poisonous water moccasin.

"(The snake) blended in perfectly with the grass, wasn't but 18 inches long, but he was good enough that he could have bit you and hurt you pretty bad," said Weekley, who told concerned course marshals not to fret.

"A guy come running up to us right before we teed off and when we got done I told the guy not to worry about it. I took my driver and turned it over and just moved (the snake)."

Weekley doesn't limit his hunting to Florida, also having made treks to Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri in search of game, and he eats everything he shoots.

However, he's missing turkey season.

"I'm not much on them turkeys," down-home Boo told reporters. "I have done it a bunch, but I don't have time. I'm more worried about golf. If I can get this taken care of, I can turkey hunt the rest of my life."

And besides, right now, he's hunting for his golf game.

COMING UP

PGA TOUR: Tampa Bay Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., Thursday through Sunday.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 3-6 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-3 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EDT on NBC.

LAST YEAR: Luke Donald posted a 5-under-par 66 in the final round and holed a six-foot birdie putt after a brilliant approach shot on the first playoff hole to defeat Robert Garrigus, Jim Furyk and Sang-Moon Bae. Donald, who reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings from Rory McIlroy, stuck his approach from 157 yards with a 7-iron on the playoff hole to a perfect spot under the hole. The other three had birdie putts, too, but Furyk missed from 40 feet, Bae from 18 feet and Garrigus from seven feet. Ernie Els, needing a victory to get into the Masters, held a one-stroke lead before making bogeys on the last two holes to miss the playoff.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., Friday through Sunday.

TV: Friday, 8:30-10:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

LAST YEAR: Loren Roberts overcame three bogeys in a span of four holes through No. 17 by holing a five-foot birdie putt on the final hole to claim his 13th victory on the Champions Tour by two strokes over Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Kite and Bernhard Langer. Roberts, who had not won in a span of 34 tournaments dating to 2010, began the final day two strokes behind 54-hole leader Calcavecchia, but took the lead for good with birdies on three of his first four holes en route to a 2-under-par 69. Langer, who was in the group in front of Roberts, was only two strokes behind but could not take advantage of Roberts' late struggles because he carded a double-bogey 5 on the 17th hole, where his putt from the fringe rolled into the right greenside bunker, and he shot 70. Kite closed with a 69 and Calcavecchia struggled to a 73.

LPGA TOUR: RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, Thursday through Sunday.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 4-7 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

LAST YEAR: Yani Tseng of Taiwan, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, two-putted from 40 feet for a par in cold and dark conditions to claim the 14th victory of her LPGA Tour career by one shot over Ai Miyazato of Japan and Na Yeon Choi of South Korea. Tseng, who closed with a 4-under 68, was three strokes behind Miyazato at the turn, but birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine before parring in. Tseng took the lead for good with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and added a two-putt birdie in driving rain on the next hole. Miyazato, who closed with a 69, missed a 25-foot putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff, while Choi, who shot 68, missed from 30 feet.
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