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Success hasn't changed Boo Weekley

It’s clear PGA Tour success and Ryder Cup stardom haven’t quashed Boo Weekley’s inner good ol’ boy.

Weekley was on hand Monday to talk about his try at Verizon Heritage history and a possible third straight win next month at Harbour Town Golf Links. Weekley’s fortunes may have changed in the past year, but his plain-spoken, straight-forward style has not.

Weekley joked with surprise as he sat next to his first-place trophy from a year ago: “How’d y’all get my trophy out of my house?”

When asked about his growing line of apparel, Weekley—clad in a camouflage jacket and mesh ball cap—quipped, “It’s just clothes, man. Do I look like a fashion guy?”

Some don’t know what to make of Weekley.

Is he the talented ball-striker on the rise who earned more than $5 million since 2007 or the fun-loving bumpkin who gleefully goaded the Ryder Cup crowd by riding his driver, Happy Gilmore style.

“I just play golf,” he says.

Weekley’s rise began at Harbour Town two seasons ago when he chipped in the 71st and 72nd holes to beat Ernie Els by a stroke for his first PGA win.

A year later, Weekley did it again, defeating future Ryder Cup teammate Anthony Kim by three strokes. Come April, Weekley will look to be the first to win the tournament three years in a row.

And the attempt sounds like it’ll be vintage Weekley.

His wife, Karyn, missed both her husband’s wins here and told Boo of her plans to attend this spring. No way, Weekley said. “I ain’t messing up my mojo,” he said.

Weekley hasn’t played much this season. After opening the season in Hawaii, he was off the tour until last week’s Accenture Match Play, where he lost to Sean O’Hair in the second round.

Weekley thinks he’s found a home at Harbour Town, and not just because of the small, inviting greens that fit his shot-shaping style. Despite its luxury resort trappings, Weekley says people here are similar to those he grew up with in Milton, Fla.

“When I come here, it feels like home,” Weekley said.

His wins here earned him a Ryder Cup spot, where he became one of captain Paul Azinger’s happiest surprises.

Weekley remembers discussing his role with Azinger before the event began.

“You could stick me out here toting the bags out of the cars if that’s what you want,” Weekley told Azinger. “I just wanted to be part of something.”

Azinger matched Weekley with J.B. Holmes, Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk.

“They started calling us the ‘redneck quad,”’ Weekley said, chuckling.

Weekley knows fans plug into off-the-cuff personality and down-home demeanor.

In tough economic times for golf and its fans—tournament officials expect to raise less for charity than in other years—Weekley’s hick-hop attitude could be just what the tour needs, Verizon Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot said.

“We’re happy to have him,” he said.

Weekley has made his mark with the Verizon Heritage crowd. He says the PGA Tour is placing more importance on interaction with sponsors and fans.

“For me, that’s pretty easy but for a lot of the other players, it seems like it’s a hassle,” he said. “It’s something I think we’ve got to step up and take responsibility for if we want to keep our tour and keep playing for the money we’re playing for.”

For a player in his prime, the 35-year-old Weekley shows little of the single-minded drive to improve that hangs off many pros. He feels no added pressure to outdo his big years and become even more successful.

“I figure if I keep going, I’ll win a couple of more,” he said.

Maybe when he returns to Harbour Town.


March 4, 2009

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