Chip Shots

Different Drums

Most fans that follow professional golf often witness a group of players who seem to come straight from Hollywood casting. They all seem to look alike, act alike, and go about their profession much in the same way. This week, I want to write about two players who stroll down a fairway much less traveled.

Let me begin with someone who does it his way. I am talking about a gangly-looking golfer who plays left-handed.

He has such a unique swing that most of the time his feet leave the ground on impact — a swing that nobody would dare teach to anyone trying to learn the game. So it makes sense that this player claims he has never had a lesson, and I believe him.

Two fun facts about this player: When playing at home and just for fun, his personal golf cart is a one-of-a-kind Hovercraft. Secondly, he’s a vintage car nut and the proud owner of the “General Lee” car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” television series.

About four years ago, this famous golfer moved from Tiger Woods’s former mansion in Orlando, which he owned at the time, to Pensacola, Florida, which is closer to his roots in Baghdad, Florida, where he indulged himself in two more of his off-course passions: ice cream and minor league baseball. You guessed it . . . soon after making the move, he purchased an ice cream shop and became part owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a minor league baseball team.

By now I’m sure you’ve guessed that this mystery man is Bubba Watson. He has 14 wins, two of which are Masters victories, and three wins this season, currently the only player to do so. He has already met the criteria to someday be inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame.

Bubba and his wife, Angie, a Canadian and former WNBA player, have adopted a little boy and a little girl and continue down that fairway less traveled as a very happy family.

Another current player on Tour that has a great deal of difficulty talking golf with his peers is Bryson DeChambeau, the only physics major ever to play on Tour. Oh, by the way, Bryson can play. He became only the fifth player in history to win the NCAA Individual Championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year.

It’s safe to say that Bryson is either a brilliant mind or a “Mad Scientist,” or both, when it comes to playing golf. Recently it was noted Bryson was using a compass to locate hole locations on the greens in order to get the “exact” hole location. The USGA is reviewing the Rules of Golf to determine whether using a compass is legal or not. What makes Bryson different, other than his brilliant mind, you might ask? Well, all of Bryson’s clubs are the length of his seven iron, which is the club with which he hits best. When it comes to tech talk, Bryson is all alone on his less traveled fairway.

Some musings about this past weekend . . . Let’s begin with Tiger, who finished tied for fourth, his best finish so far on this most recent comeback to competition. Tiger put a new putter in the bag and actually putted very well, except for a few short ones that even you and I could make. Tiger played so well that he made as many birdies as the winner. However, he also made far too many bogies to get near the leader. It’s safe to say that there’s a definite improvement and like millions of golfers worldwide, we love watching him play.

The winner of the Quicken Loans National was Francesco Molinari from Italy. The last time an Italian won on the U.S. Tour was 1947, when Tony Pena got the job done. Molinari played so well that he won by eight shots and made 21 birdies, with only one bogey all week long.

The next time Tiger will tee it up will be at the British Open Championship in two weeks. I will be there as Tiger goes for his 15th Major win. Tiger’s Carnoustie record: T7 in 1999 and T12 in 2007. Woods has won the Open Championship three times, twice at St. Andrews and once at Royal Liverpool.

Now for a brief shout-out to David Toms, who won the USGA Senior Open, which put an end to a seven-year drought between victories. To make it even better, it was a family affair as Toms’s son, Carter, who plays on the LSU golf team, subbed in for regular caddie, Scott Gneiser, who felt chest pains and was replaced after the first two days. Scott is a longtime friend and I wish him well. I wonder how Toms is going to handle the payments to his two caddies.