OK, so the newest champion of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial once flunked out of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.Boo Weekley can explain that.“I never did care for school much,” he said.He also, as a 16-year-old, climbed into a county fair boxing ring for a chance to win $50 by fighting an orangutan.Boo Weekley can explain that, too.“I moved in close and faked with my right, and that’s the last thing I remember,” Weekley told Golf Digest. “The orangutan had knocked me cold with one punch. I woke up bleeding in the back of a friend’s pickup truck.”On Sunday, after he had, ahem, monkeyed with Colonial’s stingy fairways again and won the tournament by shooting 66 for a second consecutive day, Weekley was asked to recall where his golfing career really began.Was there a crossroads at some point, I asked Boo, where it was either golf or med school?Weekley saw the humor in the question.“I know you’re joking when you said med school with me,” he said.Boo then recounted the tale of flunking out of ABAC (enrollment 3,233) and returning home to work in the Monsanto plant. There, he put in 12-hour shifts, wearing a Kevlar suit and hard hat, hosing out giant chemical tanks.His high school golfing buddy from Milton, Fla., Heath Slocum, now himself a fellow pro, talked Weekley into joining him on the low-budget Emerald Coast Tour.“A weekend warrior, I reckon, is what you’d call it,” Weekley told a post-tourney press conference crowd. “I kind of went out and played and won. So I called my mom and said, ‘Momma, I think I might have found something else to do besides going to the plant every morning at six o’clock.’“So we tried it, and one thing led to another, and here I am right now in front of you, holding this mike.”It would not be a reach, I think, to suggest that the venerable tournament at Colonial has never seen a champion quite like Thomas Brent “Boo” Weekley.With a cheek of dip and an “aw, shucks” shrug after every birdie — he made 24 over the four days — Weekley looks more like the head pro from the Talledega 500 than a three-time PGA Tour champion. He lists his life’s passions as golf, hunting and fishing, and not necessarily in that order.Prominent among his sponsors, not surprisingly, are Bass Pro Shops, Jack Daniel’s and Hooters.Yet, Weekley has a reverence for golf and appreciates the Colonial tradition. When he was still in high school, his family bought him a set of Ben Hogan clubs.“I kind of fell in love with the way the golf clubs felt,” Weekley said Sunday, “and I got to reading about [Hogan], and the next thing I know, he was my man.”This is the same guy who was once asked to name his favorite restaurant.“Hooters,” Boo answered.He sometimes veers off the tournament fairways to hug a cheering fan or two.“I enjoy them,” he explained again Sunday. “They pay my bills.”No, Colonial has never had a champion like this.Fuzzy Zoeller, Colonial and Masters champion, himself a self-proclaimed country boy?Compared to Boo Weekley, Zoeller is James Bond.They serenaded him with cries of “Booooo” as he walked the final 18 Sunday, and Weekley said he has never had a problem with that.“Anytime you hear your name, especially when you’re playing good, it’s fun,” he said. “When you’re playing bad, you don’t want to hear it.“You’re saying, ‘Why are you hollering my name now, dude? I’m like 10-over!’”There are no pretenses, nothing scripted, you see, about Boo Weekley. The orangutan story, he sheepishly admits, is true. So is the respect that he’s earned on the golf course.Minutes after his victory Sunday, fellow pros used Twitter to send their congratulations.Steve Stricker, for one. His old buddy Slocum for another. And Gary Player, who wrote, “Ben Hogan would be proud.”To his closet filled with camouflage gear, Weekley can now add a bright plaid jacket.He’ll wear it well, assuming he doesn’t spill any gravy on it.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton