Bubba Watson bought a summer home at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia four years ago and has been adopted by the community.
So the recent flooding in the state that has claimed 23 lives and wreaked massive devastation prompted Watson to donate $250,000 to a local “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” organization to support the relief effort.
The PGA Tour is contributing $100,000 to the American Red Cross after the flooding forced it to cancel next week’s Greenbrier Classic.
Watson said a Bible study group at his home church, First Baptist of Pensacola, Fla., is searching for 10 families it can help. Watson’s wife, Angie, remains in West Virginia, using his truck and new Jeep to distribute supplies.
“FEMA’s there now so she’s been filling up the truck with waters and food and taking them to different places where some people can’t get to but my vehicles can get to,” Watson said Tuesday before the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. “The National Guard is there. She’s shoveling dirt out of people’s homes tomorrow, just trying to help a little bit if we can. I’ll be there Sunday night.”
Watson said he returned to West Virginia on Monday after the U.S. Open. There were thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday; he cut short a fishing trip on Thursday, when the deluge began. Their power was out from around 6 p.m. that day until Monday at 1:30. He said his house is 500-600 feet above the golf course.
“My wife being the champion that she is, she said, ‘Get out of here so you can go play golf. We can’t donate time, money and energy if you’re not playing golf,’?” he said. He arrived in Akron on Saturday, leaving her with their children, ages 4 and 19 months.
“There was a house that caught on fire that broke away, and it’s floating down the river. Homes caught under a bridge. I took the Jeep out. When the water subsided, you could see car seats and little kids’ flip-flops, just sadness all over the place.
“We get blinded sometimes of how lucky we are. I get mad at a three-putt. So it just hit home, the way I want to try to live my life. This is God giving me the advantage to help in different ways.”
Spieth looks ahead
American Jordan Spieth has won twice this year and is ranked No. 2 in the world behind Jason Day. But it can’t compare to Spieth’s 2015, when he won five times, including the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Tour Championship.
His first-place finishes in 2016 came at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Dean & DeLuca, and he tied for second at the Masters.
“It feels like a good year,” Spieth said. “It doesn’t feel like a great year yet. I still believe that given the magnitude of the events coming up, we have what I would consider half the season left. The number of tournaments wouldn’t tell you that, but a lot of very big events left in this season to create a great year out of it.”
Spieth, 22, was in the top 10 in 15 tournaments in 2015 and earned just over $12 million. So far in 2016, he has five top 10 finishes and has earned just over $4 million.
“Every year from when I was about 12 years old, I had a more significant accomplishment than the year before, I felt like I was a better player than the year before,” Spieth said. “This is the first year where I don’t have, to this point, an amount of significant accomplishments that I can say, ‘Hey, that was a stronger year than last year.’?”
Gushing over Cavs
Day said after the final round of the U.S. Open he made sure he saw the Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Days, who live in the Columbus suburb of Westerville, had traveled to the tournament in their motor home. They elected to stay Sunday night to watch the Cavs at a house in the Pittsburgh area they had rented for their nanny.
“We were screaming in the house. It was great to see,” Day said. “They looked like they wanted it. They definitely deserved to win.”
Day understood the impact of the Cavs delivering Cleveland’s first professional championship in 52 years. He also appreciated they did it with a fellow Australian, Matthew Dellavedova, on the roster.
“It was huge, for not only Cleveland, but the whole of Ohio,” Day said. “Just texting Delly and some of the guys in management and being able to see their happiness … I know how much they’ve gone through. Especially LeBron [James] leaving and coming back and winning one for the city….
“It’s probably helped more people that are down in life and picking them up a little bit. Hopefully the guys can keep it going. But first of all they need to get some rest. They went through a helluva stretch to try and get through to Game 7. Being able to come back from 3-1 down, beat Golden State at home was unbelievable.”
Day said he’s sat in courtside seats since Ellie suffered bruises when James landed on her during a Cavs home game against the Thunder in December. But he’s not sure he wants his wife beside him there.
“I took my buddy,” Day said.
Day said he wouldn’t stop Ellie if that’s where she wants to sit. He knows how lucky he was neither of them were seriously hurt, but he loves what he can see and hear.
“If I broke my wrist or did something, then I’d be out, so it’s probably a smart idea that I sit back a little bit,” he said. “But it’s kind of hard because they’re really good seats and it’s really good to see how quick and how fast and the pace of the game, what goes on. It’s a real unique situation to be in my profession and hear what these guys are saying and how they get themselves going.”
2017 date set
The PGA Tour released its schedule for the 2016-17 season on Monday. The Bridgestone Invitational will return to its traditional date, set for Aug. 3-6 at Firestone.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.