Watson brought the former Florida and Nease phenom a gift before Friday night’s gala at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse. It was a gift that brought out great emotion in both men.
Watson gave Tebow his player badge from last Sunday’s round, in which Watson won his first major. Every player is given a badge at the Masters before his round. Watson was randomly given No. 15, the same number Tebow made famous with the Gators and Denver Broncos. The same number he’ll try to make more memories with as a member of the New York Jets.
“I knew I’d see Tim in a week,” Watson said. “I told my caddie, I’m going to keep it unopened, and I’m going to hand it to him. I just felt like I should give it to him. It’s his football number, and I thought he might want it more now that I won.
“We believe in the Bible and doing good for people. That’s our connection. We both play sports, and there are other connections, too, but our first connection is being Christians.”
Tebow and Watson shared an embrace and clearly have a strong friendship.
“It was very special,” Tebow said. “He didn’t have to do anything like that. He’s just an amazing guy. He’s been so supportive of me and my foundation. He really cares about giving back and making a difference. He has a huge platform, and I think it will continue to increase, because he’s so real. He’s so genuine.”
Tebow and Watson, two of the most popular athletes in sports today, will take on the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course today for numerous good causes.
“We’re very passionate, very emotional people,” Tebow said. “It will be fun. He’s already been talking a lot of trash to me, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Watson has enjoyed an incredible week, conquering Augusta National by beating Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death playoff. The 33-year-old Watson was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Tebow was featured on the magazine’s cover in December.
“I’m honored to be here,” Watson said. “I’m honored that he asked me to play in it. It’s for a great cause. It has a great champion with great character in Tim Tebow, so why would I not be here?”
Joining Tebow and Watson will be a rarity in Florida — an Olympic gold-medal skier. Lindsey Vonn will be part of the festivities. Vonn became the first American woman to win the women’s downhill at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Not surprisingly, there is also a huge Gators contingent. Former Jaguars and UF star running back Fred Taylor will compete.
Tebow’s childhood hero, Danny Wuerffel, will also be on hand. Wuerffel won the 1996 Heisman Trophy and led the Gators to their first national championship by beating Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl.
A couple of Tebow’s teammates at UF, offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, are also in the mix. Maurkice is a Pro Bowl center with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Mike is entering his second season with the Miami Dolphins.
Florida football coach Will Muschamp will also play.
There’s even something for FSU fans, as former defensive back Deion Sanders, quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Leon Washington are scheduled to be among the participants. Washington, a former Jackson High star, plays for the Seattle Seahawks.
Buffalo Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman and Garry Sheffield, a nine-time All-Star in Major League Baseball, are also taking part.
Tebow has also secured commitments from stars outside sports. Singer Jordin Sparks, country band Rascal Flatts and Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, a Jacksonville native, will participate.
Play will begin at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for fans 18 and younger. Parking is $5.