Bubba to lo­cal politi­cians: FORE!

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - Doug Fer­gu­son AP Sports Colum­nist

Bubba Wat­son is al­ready think­ing about his ca­reer af­ter golf, which just might in­clude pub­lic of­fice. He wants to run for mayor. “I’ve had a dream,” Wat­son said. “I moved back in the city lim­its of Pen­sacola (Florida) so one day I can run for mayor.”

The two-time Mas­ters cham­pion al­ready is build­ing quite the lo­cal en­ter­prise at home. Last year he be­came a par­towner of the Pen­sacola Blue Wa­hoos, a Dou­bleA af­fil­i­ate of the Cincin­nati Reds. This year, he opened a candy shop in Pen­sacola called “Bubba’s Sweet Spot,” serv­ing up pre­mium candy and ice cream.

“What Amer­i­can doesn’t like choco­late? So for me, it was some­thing fun,” Wat­son said. “That re­ally is a kid in a candy store, like ev­ery­one talks about. We built it from scratch. That wasn’t buy­ing a shop.”

And he didn’t stop there. His lat­est ven­ture is a car deal­er­ship, Sandy and Bubba’s Mil­ton Chevro­let (he thinks the new elec­tric car is go­ing to be big), along with a ro­bot­ics com­pany in Pen­sacola that makes ev­ery­thing from mil­i­tary equipment to toys.

He has in­vested in a few golf cour­ses, and he is in­volved in an apart­ment com­plex be­ing built in Pen­sacola.

“It’s funny, I say to my friends, I say to my wife, to my man­ager, to my team that if you say ‘Bubba Wat­son the golfer,’ then you’re lim­it­ing who I am, who I want to be and who I think I am,” Wat­son said at the HSBC Cham­pi­ons. “These other busi­nesses are fun. Golf is fun. The golf is great. But there are other things I want to do. I have other dreams. Golf made it pos­si­ble. Luck­ily for me, I haven’t had bank loans. I’m able to pay cash for these things.”

Wat­son, who de­fends his ti­tle next week in the Hero World Chal­lenge in the Ba­hamas, has 10 vic­to­ries world­wide, and his PGA Tour earn­ings alone top $35 mil­lion. It’s more than he imag­ined when he first reached the PGA Tour in 2006.

But at 38, with two chil­dren, he’s ap­proach­ing a stage in his life when he’s start­ing to think.

He has lived in Or­lando, Fla., and Scotts­dale, Ariz., and North Carolina. He still keeps a home at The Green­brier in West Vir­ginia. But his fu­ture is near his birth­place of Bag­dad in the Florida Pan­han­dle, and he wanted to be sure to live in Pen­sacola to pos­si­bly run for mayor some­day.

“To be back home ... my mom works in the candy shop,” he said. “The ex­cite­ment around these busi­nesses, the city of Pen­sacola re­al­izes I love them. They brought me ev­ery­thing I have now. They took time to spon­sor sport­ing events that I par­tic­i­pated in. That’s the same thing I’m do­ing. I’m try­ing to help the com­mu­nity grow.”

So what would he do as mayor? Given a chance for some hu­mor, Wat­son turned se­ri­ous.

“The first thing you do is some form of ed­u­ca­tion,” he said. “We talk in­ner city. It’s where the most growth can hap­pen, no mat­ter what back­ground you are. But it all starts with ed­u­ca­tion.”

*** IN­AU­GU­RA­TION PLANS >> Jim Her­man will be go­ing places he has never been in Jan­uary. By win­ning the Shell Hous­ton Open, he gets to start his year at Ka­palua for the Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons. And af­ter the Sony Open, he is plan­ning a trip to Wash­ing­ton to see one of his big­gest sup­port­ers.

“I think I’m go­ing to go to the in­au­gu­ra­tion,” Her­man said.

Her­man gave up on the mini-tours and was work­ing as an as­sis­tant pro when he landed a job at Trump Na­tional in Bed­min­ster, N.J. Once he was told that he would be play­ing with the boss, Don­ald Trump, Her­man made a quick im­pres­sion. Trump told him he was good enough to play the tour, and he helped fi­nan­cially back Her­man, who even­tu­ally made it to the big leagues, and last year won his first PGA Tour event.

Trump came to watch him in the FedEx Cup play­offs in 2015, not long af­ter he an­nounced his can­di­dacy.

And now he’s the president-elect.

Her­man said he hasn’t had a chance to talk to Trump yet. Trump will be at his Mar-a-Lago re­sort in Florida for Thanks­giv­ing.

“Hope­fully, I’ll be able to see him there, get a round in,” Her­man said. “But his sched­ule is go­ing to be pretty busy. I hope to get a word in with him and con­grat­u­late him. It’s a pretty amaz­ing run for him.”

*** ERNIE AND ZAC >> Ernie Els is think­ing about sign­ing up for the team event at the Zurich Clas­sic, and he knew ex­actly whom to ask. Zac Blair. Never mind that they are sep­a­rated by 21 years in age and 60 vic­to­ries. Blair loves golf ar­chi­tec­ture and of­ten will go to the clas­sic cour­ses to play dur­ing tour­na­ments or his weeks off tour. Els de­signs golf cour­ses and has taken a lik­ing to the 26-year-old from Utah.

“You know what I like about Zac? He’s a freakin’ ar­chi­tect,” Els said. “We can talk ar­chi­tec­ture. He loves that. I love that, too.”

Blair said Els ap­proached him about the team event, and he’d love noth­ing bet­ter than to play New Or­leans with the Big Easy.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Bubba Wat­son, an ex­citable boy, was thrilled with him­self af­ter mak­ing an ea­gle from the bunker at the 2014 HSBC Cham­pi­ons golf tour­ney. These days, Bubba’s still play­ing well, but he’s ex­pand­ing his hori­zons.

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