Big-hitting Bubba coming to BellSouth

DULUTH - The booming drives of legendary proportions, the long blasts of Bubba Watson, will be at the TPC at Sugarloaf this week.

Already a popular figure on the PGA Tour because of his amazing shots off the tee and his unique name, Watson likely will be a popular figure at the BellSouth Classic, which begins Thursday. The 27-year-old rookie ranks 46th on the money list, but no one can get near him on tee shots.

He ranks first on the Tour in driving distance with an average of 319.4, but ranks 180th in accuracy, hitting 45.5 percent of the fairways. Finding the fairway may be a struggle at times, but distance is never an issue.

While finishing fourth at this year's Sony Open, he averaged 336 yards on drives, nearly 20 ahead of the No. 2 golfer. Included in that bunch was a 398-yarder. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder also hit a 422-yarder on the Nationwide Tour in 2004.

Long hitters have fared well at Sugarloaf in the past, so it might fit his game to a tee.

"Everybody talks about this is a longer course," said Watson, a former University of Georgia swimmer who is married to former Bulldog women's basketball player Angie Ball. "If it gets wet and it keeps raining a little bit, it's going to be longer. So it's always going to be an advantage, if you can hit it somewhat straight because you can hit lower irons into par 5s, par 4s and par 3s."

Better weather ahead

Golfers and tournament officials hope Tuesday's cold and rainy weather was the last of the poor conditions for the week.

That appears to be the case starting today, when The Weather Channel predicts a high of 70 degrees with sun. The weather network also lists Thursday as free of rain with a high of 74, with isolated showers on Friday and Saturday and clear on Sunday. The temperature is supposed to hover in the mid 70s most of the week.

Today's Pro-Am

The annual Gold Circle Pro-Am is today at Sugarloaf, and most of the BellSouth's notable pros are playing in the event.

Some of the top golfers with their tee time today are as follows: Phil Mickelson at 8:18 a.m. off No. 1, Chris DiMarco at 8:09 a.m. off No. 1, David Toms at 8:18 a.m. off No. 10, Davis Love III at 11:40 a.m. off No. 1 and Retief Goosen at 12:34 p.m. off No. 1.