When he joined the Old North State Club on Badin Lake a few months ago, PGA Tour star Bubba Watson had one request. He wanted to play in the men's club championship.
Like he hadn't ever won anything? He needed to beat a bunch of guys with loopy backswings?He didn't need it for his resume. He said he wanted to play because it would give him an opportunity to meet a lot of the other members.
They played it recently and, ladies and gentlemen, your new Old North State Club champion, Bubba Watson from High Rock Lake, near Lexington. That gives him three wins for the year, the other two having come on the PGA Tour, but it doesn't count as a major, except, of course, to the other members.
Ron Swanner, chairman and CEO of Home Savings Bank in Albemarle and a two-handicap player, was defending champion. He played with Watson; Paul Tucker, who is a standout mid-amateur champion, and David Palmer, another low handicapper.
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The championship flight played it from all the way back, like in Siberia, only warmer. Swanner shot 75 in the opening round and trailed Watson's 66 by nine. In the second round, he shot 85 ("I was pretty well spent by then," he said) and wound up a total of 31 strokes in arrears but called it "the greatest golf experience of my life."
Watson, the powerful lefthander who can hit it a mile with his pink-shafted driver, got it around in 63, a course record, despite two bogeys. He shot 28 on the back nine with six birdies and an eagle. Showoff.
"I thought it was great that he played," said Swanner. "Some people felt it wasn't fair but if he wants to take a weekend away from the glamour of the PGA Tour and do this, well it shows what a real person he is.
"There was so much excitement to the weekend. We had a gallery of about 100 people. I thanked him for playing. There was no way we could have beaten him but it was an honor just to play with him.
"It's one thing to watch him from outside the ropes but it's something else to be standing next to him when he hits a shot. He's so talented. He's the best putter I've ever seen. If he doesn't make it, it touches the cup.
"He's a great young guy."
Confirming what seems to be emanating from the PGA Tour telecasts. How can you not like a guy who is lefthanded, hits a pink-shafted driver over three time zones, outdresses everybody on tour and is, well, good-looking?
If you're going to lose to somebody, you could do worse than Bubba Watson.
By the way, if you haven't seen it, watch Bubba and the "Golf Boys" on YouTube. Watson, Ricky Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane sing and dance in wacky costumes and actually do a good job of it. They'll be appearing at your local store closing soon.