Eubanks: Opposites Watson, Simpson attract
Because of their faith, PGA Grand Slam of Golf rookies Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson have developed a great friendship -- one that has allowed their games to blossom both individually as well as in international team competitions.
By Steve Eubanks
They couldn't be more different.
One is a long-hitting, self-taught bundle of energy: the kind of guy who is distracted by cows on the side of the road; the sort who fidgets and talks through dinner only to tell you afterward what great company he thought you were; the kind of fellow for whom Ritalin was invented.
The other could be a loan officer at your bank: a methodical technician with an easy smile whose golf swing mirrors his meticulous nature. He hits the ball average length, relying on pinpoint accuracy, a solid game plan and a great short game. He also believes in speaking when spoken to, which might mean saying nothing at all. When he does chime in, it's always in soothing measured tones, the kind of sonorous cadence that would have made him a great hypnotist.
And yet, Masters winner Bubba Watson and U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson are the best of friends.
The two PGA Grand Slam of Golf rookies will put on a great show during their maiden voyage to Bermuda, not because they've been coached to mug for the cameras, but because they always have fun when they're together.
They were inseparable at the Ryder Cup, not only playing every match together, but walking together with their wives after their matches and eating together every night. They even sat next to each other and chatted off-mike during the post-singles press conference at Medinah.
The same was true last year at the President's Cup at Royal Melbourne where they paired up for a 3-1 record as partners en route to a U.S. victory.
"We're good friends away from golf," Simpson said. "I think that makes us a good team. You put him and me together, where I am a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at."
It's hard to see how they can be so close. Bubba drives the original General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard, owns a $500,000 watch, talks a mile-a-minute, cries at the drop of a hat, and posts more goofball videos onto Twitter than most paid comedians.
Webb could star in a Ralph Lauren ad. He is blond, handsome, reserved and would fit in perfectly on one of the yachts in Bermuda's Castle Harbour.
Yet they made the Ryder Cup seem like a Saturday morning two-dollar Nassau at your local club. Bubba gave Webb merciless grief about his length. After one tee shot, which Webb nutted to about 290 yards, Bubba said, "Wow, where's that one?... oh, I see it."
Another time, after one of Webb's tee shots in the foursomes competition Bubba turned to his caddy and said, "It ain't long, but it ain't wrong. Maybe I can get a 4-wood on from there."
So what is the attraction? How can two men with such seemingly different interests and polar opposite personalities get along so well?
The answer is simple. Both are devout Christians. They attend Bible study together, pray together, share devotionals together, and enjoy a bond far stronger than any game could forge.
After every session at Medinah, Bubba and Webb would huddle with their wives, Angie and Dowd, hold hands and pray. It is what got them through the matches and what gets them through life.
"There's so much pressure that you're going to feel in this game," Webb said earlier in the year. "But if you just remember that Christ is with you, if you remember why He put you here then all the pressure seems to fade away."
"For me it's about showing the Light," Bubba told the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. "I try to tell people, Jesus loves you. It's a way to be strong in my faith."
They will no doubt have a wonderful time in Bermuda, enjoying the beauty and competition of one of the game's most laid-back events. And they could leave the island a lot richer depending on how they play.
But for both Bubba and Webb, richness has a different meaning. It's why they are so close. They know that their ultimate rewards have nothing to do with golf.