Watson's absence among many thoughts

Masters champion Bubba Watson chose to skip the Players this week so he could be with his family.

A few Sunday morning thoughts while wondering if Bubba Watson is pulling a reverse Josh Beckett and playing baseball during his off month between golf tournaments:


• Jermaine Smith (Laney) and Jarius Wynn (Lincoln County) have followed remarkably similar football paths 12 years apart. Both defensive linemen played two seasons at Georgia Military before transferring to Georgia.

Both were drafted by the Green Bay Packers and played three seasons (Smith, fourth round, 1997-99; Wynn, sixth round, 2009-present). Smith went on to start a record 77 games for the Georgia Force and rank among the all-time sack leaders in the Arena Football League. Wynn earned a Super Bowl ring with the Packers in 2010.

On Friday night, their paths crossed in Sanford Stadium during spring commencement ceremonies. Both Smith and Wynn received their degrees in Child & Family Development. Congratulations to them both.

• PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said emphatically on Wednesday that Augusta National’s exclusive membership ranks will not change its status as a PGA Tour co-sponsored event despite conflicting with the tour’s own policy mandates established in 1990.

“We are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our tour. It’s too important,” Finchem said.

Translation: The Masters Tournament – which offers invitations to tour winners and Tour Championship participants and a three-year exemption to Players champions – needs the PGA Tour’s blessing a lot less than the tour needs the Masters.

• A pair of bogey-free rounds of 66-65 staked former Augusta State three-time all-American golfer Oliver Wilson to the 36-hole lead in the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open in Portugal. England’s Wilson, a Ryder Cup participant in 2008 who competed in back-to-back Masters in 2009-10, has been mired in a slump that cost him his full-time tour card this year. A nine-time runner-up on the Euro Tour from 2006-09, Wilson is still seeking his first professional victory. He starts the final round tied for third, four off the lead.

• A year after the two most recent 54-hole leaders in the Masters (Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy) chose to skip the Players Championship, the two latest green jacket winners (Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson) took a pass on Sawgrass this week. How major can it be?

• Watson was voted the PGA Tour’s Player of the Month for April in further honor of his Masters victory. He’s now apparently campaigning for father of the month by sitting out May.

• A Catholic school in Phoenix opted to forfeit a baseball championship game last week because its opponent included a 15-year-old girl playing second base. Our Lady of Sorrows cited teaching its boys “respect” by not participating in co-ed athletic competition, where “proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty.” Clearly my definition of respect wasn’t written in the 19th Century.

• Raise your hand if you feel sorry for the Philadelphia Phillies bringing up the rear of the standings as the only team in the National League East below .500. Anyone?

• Aiken Golf Club clocked in at No. 13 on Golfweek magazine’s list of the top 15 “best courses you can play” in the state of South Carolina. The other 14 were all somewhere along the coast from North Myrtle Beach to Kiawah.

• Of the 15 municipal courses in Georgia voted Golfweek’s “best,” six of them are located in or around Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro – The Club at Cuscowilla (No. 59 nationally), Great Waters, Oconee, Reynolds National, Reynolds Landing and Harbor Club. Also within about an hour from Augusta are Arrowhead Pointe in Elberton and Long Shadow in Madison.


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