Watson looks for title shot at his new Greenbrier home
July 4, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
To get ready for this week's tournament, Bubba Watson simply has to walk out his front door.
Watson moved his family a month ago into a home built at The Greenbrier, the resort in West Virginia that has hosted royalty and U.S. presidents — and now has its resident Bubba.
“It's nice sleeping in your own bed,” Watson said.
He'll tee it up in the Greenbrier Classic starting on Thursday on the par-70 Old White TPC.
Watson first learned about the stately resort from 2011 tournament winner Scott Stallings, who extolled its warm, relaxed setting. Watson played in the tournament for the first time last year, finishing eight shots behind winner Jonas Blixt.
Shortly after, Watson joined the resort's staff of professional golfers and broke ground on the new house.
“We looked at what West Virginia has to offer,” he said. “You have a family atmosphere, many things to do besides golf. The mountains are nice views. So when you add that all up, it becomes an easy place to decide to move to.”
When asked if he's now a West Virginian, Watson replied, “I'm not sure. But I like it so far. So hopefully, everybody else likes me.”
In addition to playing five rounds on Old White in the past two weeks, Watson tweeted pictures of himself fishing in a nearby river and pond, getting up-close looks at black bears, and looking over the New Orleans Saints' preseason training camp facility under construction at the resort.
The Greenbrier has taken full advantage of Watson's presence.
On the two-lane road that winds into White Sulphur Springs, the two-time Masters champion and NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, who also has a home at The Greenbrier, share an advertising billboard that reads “Live Where Legends Do.”
“You're talking about a legend in his sport, and then there is me,” Watson said. “Basically, it's like I won the lotto and they put my picture up next to his ... I should be on the other side of the street facing the other way where nobody sees it.”
Watson, at No. 3 in the world, is the top-ranked player in the Greenbrier Classic field. Others include No. 17 Jimmy Walker, No. 18 Steve Stricker and No. 25 Keegan Bradley. No. 6 Jason Day withdrew with a recurring thumb injury.
Walker has top-5 finishes in three of the four previous Greenbrier Classics, including a runner-up finish last year.
The five-year-old tournament has had close finishes every time. It went to playoffs in 2012 and 2011, and Stuart Appleby shot 59 to win by a stroke in 2010.
A year ago, Blixt came from four shots back to win by two strokes. He credits the resort's surroundings for keeping him calm.
Ten winners on tour this season are entered, as well as the four past champions, and 16 former major champions, including Nick Faldo and Tom Watson, the Greenbrier's golf pro emeritus.
Among the top 12 on the final leaderboard, the four best finishers not previously eligible for the British Open will earn spots in the major at Royal Liverpool this month.