NOT since the folksy, homespun wisdom of Sam Snead graced the Ryder Cup has the US been able to call on a Beverly Hillbilly of the calibre of Boo Weekley. Like Slammin' Sam, Boo knows how to tell a story and is no slouch when it comes to coaxing a golf ball into the hole either.
Snead, who hailed from Virginia, won on only his second start on the PGA Tour in California. When he was told the New York Times had carried his picture, Snead replied: "How did they do that? I've never been in New York."
On his first visit to Scotland, Weekley teed up at Loch Lomond and played with Paul Lawrie for two rounds. In the course of conversation, Weekley asked the 1999 Open champion if he was playing in the following week's Open at Carnoustie. "I kind of put my foot in my mouth there," recalled the man named after Yogi Bear's sidekick, Boo-boo.
Amidst all the intensity and controversy of the 37th Ryder Cup in Kentucky, Boo brought a breath of good-natured fresh air to the press tent. "These pants I've got on are probably the most expensive thing I've ever owned," confessed golf's favourite country bumpkin. "This pair of pants felt like a pair of silk underwear when you're getting ready to go hunting. They're unreal."
When he attended the official team dinner in formal wear last night, it was the first time Weekley had slipped into a tuxedo since he was married eight years ago. "I'm going to feel like I'm in a straightjacket," admitted a man more at ease in the camouflage long-johns he wears for huntin', shootin' and fishin'.
A former labourer at a chemical plant, Weekley is one of the golfers who have changed the face of America's Ryder Cup side. Normally dominated on this side of the Atlantic by the middle-classes, Paul Azinger, the American captain, hailed his dozen trusty men as "kind of blue-collar-ish for the most part with a few country clubbers mixed in."
Boo, it's safe to say, is not one of the country clubbers. Lacking a traditional university education – an anomaly in American golf – Weekley didn't have an alma mater to whom to pass on the charitable donation the PGA of America gives to all its Ryder Cup players. So he gifted some of the money to the junior agricultural college where he spent a couple of years as well as universities in Florida and Alabama.
But if he lacks the higher education of some of his team mates, Weekley reckons his talent for telling jokes may help the US to end a losing streak against the Europeans. "It never hurts to laugh," he smiled. "You should always laugh at least once or twice a day. I laughed halfway around the golf course."
Weekley, who hopes not to 'puke' on the first tee if nerves get to him tomorrow, knows that the US are underdogs. "But it's like getting a new pack of hounds when we were growing up and going deer hunting," he said. "You don't know what kind of dogs you've got until you run them."