Archive for Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Commentary: Masters getting a dose of Mayberry

Weekley will add a bit of down-home Southern charm next April thanks to victory at Hilton Head

April 17, 2007


— Trust me. They are going to love Boo Weekley at Augusta National come next April.

Can't you see it? The pro from L.A. (lower Alabama) breezes into town for the Masters, courtesy of Monday's victory at the Verizon Heritage.

First, he and his former Nationwide Tour buddies check out barbecue and beer joints. Then he wows the international media with stories about his nickname (after cartoon character Yogi Bear's pal, Boo Boo), his love of deer hunting, and growing up in East Milton, Fla., population 5 - thousand, that is (across a river from Milton, a metropolis of 20,000).

All of it told in the best down-home accent this side of a "Mayberry" rerun. Yep, Boo's a gen-you-wine Southern original, and he is your Verizon Heritage champion.

Weekley, 33, played nearly nerveless golf on a Harbour Town course buffeted by icy, blustering winds, while holding off three-time major champion Ernie Els.

He won with a 3-under-par 68, one of four scores under 70 on Monday, and with a pair of world-class chip-ins at the final two holes, each to save par.

"Yes sir, 58 degree - Cleveland," he said, identifying his club sponsor's wedge in NASCAR-style fashion.

But mostly, high school buddy and one-time golf rival, Heath Slocum, said - who, Weekley will tell you, was the better player in high school; "more mature, strong-minded," he said - Boo won by being Boo. The same guy he has been his entire life.

"Boo's always been different," Slocum said. "He doesn't change, which is one of the things I most admire about him.

"He didn't change who he was when he came out (on Tour) in '02, and he hasn't changed this year. He's really a guy who you almost can't not like."

What's not to like? In a profession where some players practice their public comments more than their short game, Weekley is as natural and comfortable as an old shoe. OK, an old hunting boot.

"He tells you exactly what he does, how he's feeling, and there's not a lot of guys out here who will do that," Slocum said. "He walks to his own drum, which is what people really like about him."

Weekley sometimes is TOO honest. Take his allergic reaction to cotton pants, which forces him to wear a cotton-polyester blend. Don't ask about that reaction if your stomach isn't strong.

"It looks like I got ringworm; you ever had ringworm?" he said. "It's like little pus pockets pop up on your skin. I mean, it itches, I can tell you that. Bad case of poison ivy is about what it's like."

Or the noticeable rip in his golf bag.

"I smacked it with a golf club," Boo said. "I was a little aggravated in Texas. It just happened."

His is the sort of deadpan, homespun humor that "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" turned into a national phenomenon. But he's no aspiring comic. He's just, well, Boo.

Winning this week will not change that.

"No, I ain't going to change," he said. "I ain't got no reason to."

Bless you for that, Boo. Can't wait to see you in Augusta.


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