TOLEDO, Ohio – Bubba Watson is everywhere at the Solheim Cup, doing whatever is asked of him. He didn’t just show up to support the women – he stayed. All week. With a radio in his ear and a smile on his face, Watson joined Team USA at the Inverness Club as a helper, giving advice and reportedly filling divots.
Watson reached out to U.S. captain Pat Hurst about a month ago and asked: How can I help?
Can’t think of a better question.
This isn’t just a tweet or a hoodie. It’s a genuine interest and significant time commitment. Watson arrived on Monday for dinner in Toledo and plans to stay until the finish. He missed his 17th wedding anniversary on Wednesday and his nine-year-old son’s football game on Saturday.
“The girls started to realize, this is real,” said Watson. “I’m not faking this. This is not for PR.”
Team United States poses for a team photo with Bubba Watson during a practice round ahead of the start of The Solheim Cup at Inverness Club on September 01, 2021 in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Watson is a longtime Ping guy. For years he has talked to the Solheim family, the founders of Ping, about coming out to the biennial event. His wife Angie has played golf many times with Hurst and assistant captain Angela Stanford (both Ping players). Hurst’s husband, Jeff Heitt, is a longtime Ping rep.
Watson already knew Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis, and reached out to Nelly Korda earlier this summer after she talked to the media about Watson’s comments about mental health at the U.S. Open.
When Watson didn’t make it to East Lake for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, it seemed the perfect time to walk the talk.
“If I just tell everybody that we need to help ladies sports, or ladies golf, you can’t do it unless you go see for yourself,” said Watson. “You don’t know where the impact can be made.”
All week Watson has pushed out Solheim Cup hype content to his nearly 3 million followers on Instagram and Twitter. He has seen the value that NBA players bring to the WNBA. Watson’s wife Angie played professional basketball.
On the first tee Saturday, Watson told Golf Channel viewers that the world needs to see that “the ladies have just as much talent, if not more than we do.” Lewis, a former No. 1 and Toledo native, nodded her head in agreement.
Being onsite at Inverness means Watson can not only see the talent firsthand, but also the difference in budget between a Ryder Cup and a Solheim Cup.
Would he like to see the men and women come together on this kind of stage?
“Not to down the Presidents Cup,” he said, “but the Presidents Cup doesn’t have the history. There’s history, but it’s not the same. If you could somehow mix it.”
He’d also like to see the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic become a mixed event. Players could play their own ball, he suggested, but then also have a mixed-team component.
Would his peers be on board with something like that?
“Who cares, you know what I’m saying? Truthfully, we’re entertainers,” he said, “and I think we miss that boat, too. I understand, I want to win majors. I know all these guys want to win majors, all these girls. But at the end of the day, we’re getting paid because we’re entertainers. If that’s going to bring the entertainment value up for all of golf … why would they not be?”
From left, Bubba Watson, Jessica Korda, Ally Ewing, Megan Khang, Stacy Lewis and Nelly Korda approach the seventh green during practice for the Solheim Cup golf tournament, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Of course, Watson admits, it took some time for him to come to this realization. The 42-year-old said his two children helped to change his perspective. He doesn’t want to be defined or remembered simply for his two Masters victories.
“The trophies and the playing helps me do other things,” he said, “the things that are better for the world.”
And sometimes, all it takes is showing up.
Sunday, Sept. 5
Foursomes – 7:15-7:51 a.m.
Fourball – 12:05-12:50 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 6
Singles – 12:05-1:55 p.m.
You can watch Golf Channel for free on fuboTV. All times ET.
Saturday, Sept. 4
Golf Channel: 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; 2:30-6 p.m.
NBC: 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 5
Golf Channel: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 1:30-5:30
NBC: 12-1:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 6
Golf Channel: 12-6 p.m.
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