Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin takes his hacks during Wednesday's pro-am.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Bubba Watson has received royal treatment in the past week at The Greenbrier, but he didn't know he would play his pro-am round Wednesday with two state governors.But there he was, playing in the morning with West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. John Klemish, broker in charge for the Greenbrier Sporting Club, rounded out the foursome."No, I haven't [played with multiple governors]. That was fun," Watson said. "Those are some important guys; I'm just a little ol' golfer, so that was fun. Hopefully, they had fun with me."The team finished with a 13-under-par 57, but not necessarily with Tomblin's help. The state's hacker-in-chief had some grim shots, including a slice into the creek on the par-3 18th, one that veered so far right it somehow landed underneath the golfer's bridge adjacent to the luxury boxes.
Klemish plays quite respectably and Beshear hits a good shot or two. But there were a few gubernatorial "foot wedges" used by benevolent Greenbrier caddies.Tomblin needed even more help. When his third try at a bunker shot on the par-5 17th feebly fell back in the sand where it started, he threw up his hands in good-natured resignation and threw his ball out.Outside the ropes, Morgantown resident Mike Anderson quipped, "You know what I like about his game? It's terrible, but that means he's working. If he's shooting scratch golf, that means he's not putting in the time as governor."Tomblin confirmed the theory: "I need to play more golf. I've been working way too hard."Watson's here for work, too, but he came here last Wednesday to look around, get comfortable and partake in some of the resort's many activities. Like many golfers who play in the Greenbrier Classic, he brought his family - wife Angie and toddler Caleb.
Like many golfers, the Florida panhandle native had never stepped foot in the state of West Virginia and wasn't sure what to expect. Like most golfers, the scenery made an immediate impression."It's a great family place. We've had a great time here," Watson said. "I heard nothing but great things the last three years this tournament has been going on, and I wanted to come here to check it out."And I'm trying to make the President's Cup team, so I wanted to add an event. I said, 'Why not add an event where my family can hang out on vacation?' My little man is 16 months [old], we play in the pool, we did the falconry, we did the helicopter ride, we fed the donkeys, we fed the horses . . .""We love it here. Obviously, this is going to be a stop for a few years, now."Back on the course, Watson is having a respectable year, even above average for many players - seven top-25s, three top-10s, $1.3 million earned, 17th in the World Golf Rankings and 39th in the FedExCup standings.But that's not acceptable. Neither is this: He is 10th in the U.S. team standings for the President's Cup, Oct. 1-6 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. While the top 10 automatically make the team, Watson has stars such as Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner trying to take him down.
Tomblin has a lot more confidence in Watson's game than his own, especially after watching his booming shots for 18 holes."Oh, geez, he spanked it on every one of them," the governor said. "All 18 holes. He didn't miss any of them."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.