ATHENS, Ga., May 2, 2011 -- An Athens homecoming for Bubba Watson was made even more special as the PGA TOUR golfer and former Bulldog presented a $50,000 check to the University of Georgia on Monday as a kick-off to the Stadion Classic at UGA. On hand for the presentation was Dr. Michael F. Adams, president of the University of Georgia, and Mike Paull, executive director of the Georgia PGA.
As part of the Play Golf America University (PGAU) program, members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team were each given $50,000 to donate to colleges and universities of their choice to help support or start the organization’s efforts at boosting golf education and engagement. Watson, a member of the 2000 SEC Championship team, designated UGA as the beneficiary of his gift.
“It’s an honor to play in the Stadion Classic,” said Watson. “It’s the highlight of my professional career to play in the Ryder Cup, and to be able to take that experience and use it in a way that supports the school I graduated from, it’s just an honor.”
The most dominant long-drive hitter in the game, Watson has emerged as one of the rising stars of the PGA Tour. He is one of nine left-handed golfers to win on the PGA Tour and only one of five to win multiple events.
Watson has led the PGA Tour in driving distance the past two years, averaging more than 316 yards per drive. Already in 2011, Watson has picked up a pair of wins with a come-from-behind victory at the Farmers Insurance Open at historic Torrey Pines and a thrilling playoff win at the Zurich Classic at New Orleans last weekend.
In 2010, he capped off another successful season with his first win at the Traveler’s Championship, a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship and participated in his first Ryder Cup.
Along with another former Bulldog, Chip Beck, Watson is serving this week as the honorary co-chair for the Stadion Classic at UGA, which is the only event on the Nationwide Tour that is owned and operated by an institution of higher education. He played on the Nationwide Tour from 2003-2005, finishing 21st on the money list in 2005 to earn his card on the PGA Tour.
A junior college All-American at Faulkner State (Ala.) Community College, Watson lettered at UGA in 2000 and 2001. In his first season, he helped lead the Bulldogs to the SEC title.
PGAU is a PGA of America college and university golf program, designed to teach and engage students in the game of golf through PGA Professional instruction and other golf programs. PGAU, while open to all students, is especially targeted for juniors, seniors and graduate students to help them to learn to play golf as well as understand how golf can be employed as a business tool as they enter the professional world. The UGA program will begin in the fall of 2011 and will be managed by Dave Cousart, director of golf for the University of Georgia Golf Course, and Matt Peterson, head professional at UGA. Both are members of the Georgia PGA.
“Bubba’s play on the PGA TOUR has made those affiliated with the University of Georgia very proud,” said Dr. Adams, the president of the University of Georgia. “He and his wife Angie are terrific alumni, and their dedication to this institution through the Play Golf America University program will continue to benefit students for years to come.”
Since the Ryder Cup Outreach Program began in 1999, more than $15 million has been donated on behalf of the Ryder Cup team and captain, with more than $6.7 million of that amount going to PGAU programs at colleges and universities. Since 1999, and covering a total of six U.S. Ryder Cup Teams and captains, a total of 149 player-designated charities and 50 colleges and universities have received funding from the Ryder Cup Outreach Program.
“The Georgia PGA is excited to have one of our signature programs at the flagship institution of the state of Georgia,” said Paull. “We have seen the success that Play Golf America University has had at other schools, and we can’t wait to see it take off at UGA.”
For more on the PGAU program, visit www.playgolfamerica.com. For more on the Stadion Classic at UGA, visit www.stadionclassic.uga.edu.