The Loop

Buddies Boo, Woody Reach Round of 16

February 21, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's not at all unusual for mates to meet along the way in the WGC-Accenture Match Play, but in the case of Boo Weekley and Woody Austin, it sometimes seems more like inmates. If the field was paired by eccentricity and candor, they'd be the No. 1 and 2 seeds.

"I think Boo is awesome," said Austin. "I'd love to call him a good friend. I chide with him and he'll chide me back." Weekley got through to the Round of 16 with a 3-and-1 victory over his old scoring buddy, Sergio Garcia, when the hole got in the way of a screaming putt from off the front of the green on the 16th and Sergio couldn't get up and down out of the bunker on the 17th. Austin went 19 holes to beat Adam Scott in one of the handful of exceptionally well-played matches the second day.

Weekley knew Austin's caddie, Brent Henley, from his mini-tour days, so when Boo improbably made it to the big tour the first time in '02, Austin was one of the players who took him under his wing and they've remained friends since.

"Tomorrow is going to be fun," Austin said. "We'll probably be the most talkative of (any) two people in a match."

Though he doesn't share Boo's passion for hunting and fishing, Austin thinks they're kindred spirits when it comes to golf. "I didn't come from any kind of (golf) background at all. I didn't play or practice in any kind of country club. I have no teacher. I have nothing that you would consider as (being) a professional golfer," he said. "Boo fits the same build. As far as golf backgrounds, I think that's why we get on because we're both not supposed to be here, basically."

And, of course, Boo is just so deliciously Boo. On the practice ground the first morning, when he was asked who he was playing (German phenom Martin Kaymer), Boo looked down the range and replied, "I don't know. Somebody down there."

On the first hole of his match with Kaymer, he didn't know you could concede a putt. "Martin hit it up on the first hole there and he putted it first and it wasn't probably eight or nine inches from the hole and I'm putting my ball down and he's looking at me and I'm looking at him, like, you going to tap it in? Joe (Weekley's caddie Joe Pyland) said, 'Just pick it up.' I'm like, 'Pick it up?' Honestly, I didn't know. That's how it started out. I mean, it's very strange to just walk up there and just pick your ball up, you know what I mean? Especially when you ain't used to doing it."

Weekley is fighting through some shoulder issues. He fell off a ladder when he was working in his barn at home in the Florida Panhandle before he went to China at the end of last year. "I've got bursitis in my left shoulder and I think a little tear up there, too, so I'm struggling a little bit with it," he says. More than that, he's just ready to get home to Florida next week.

"That's when the season starts," he says, depositing a little tobacco juice on the practice tee.

--Jim Moriarty