He’s overcome injuries and cancer. Welcome back to one of golf’s giant personalities

A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Boo Weekley shot back-to-back rounds of 1-over 73 and missed the cut at the’s LECOM Suncoast Classic at Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.
A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Boo Weekley shot back-to-back rounds of 1-over 73 and missed the cut at the’s LECOM Suncoast Classic at Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch. Getty Images

His personality is contagious and his journey is something the everyday golfer can understand.

Coming from the small town of Milton, along Florida’s panhandle, Boo Weekley became a fan favorite for his down-to-earth, humorous and genuine character.

But golf fans haven’t seen Weekley lately.

Injuries sidelined the three-time PGA Tour winner in 2018. This week’s LECOM Suncoast Classic at Lakewood National Golf Club is the 45-year-old Weekley’s first major professional tour event in the United States since he played a PGA Tour schedule in 2017.

His last PGA Tour event was a missed cut at the RBC Canadian Open in July 2017. That’s because tendonitis led to surgery on his right elbow, which took him away from golf for a year.

Once he came back, cancer was discovered in his right shoulder.

The downtime from golf provided more time for Weekley’s hobbies — fishing and hunting.

Now he’s back to the grind of knocking the rust off as a Tour player.

“Right now, that’s about how it’s going — just not getting anything out of my game,” Weekley said. “Hitting a lot of good shots, hitting it close, just not putting very well.”

To illustrate how difficult it is to make a comeback after a long layoff from the competitive grind, Weekley carded back-to-back rounds of 1-over-par 73 to miss the cut at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

As a previous winner, Weekley has conditional PGA Tour status. He won the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 2007 and 2008, and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2013.

“I’m going to try playing as much as I can out here (on the Tour) and whatever I get out there on (the PGA) Tour,” Weekley said.

The name Boo comes from a cartoon, “The Yogi Bear Show,” which featured the character Boo-Boo. Growing up in Milton, Weekley said he ran out of sports to try when golf entered the picture.

Weekley Ryder Cup.jpg
Boo Weekley helped lead Team USA to a victory in the 2008 Ryder Cup. AP

Later, it became his career with some memorable moments.

The highlight, though, was the 2008 Ryder Cup as part of the winning United States team captained by Manatee County resident Paul Azinger.

“It was probably, by far, the greatest experience of golf I’ve ever had,” Weekley said. “I was playing good at the time, too, so that made it even better. Being able to be part of that team, we had special, elite guys there and it was a fun group that was fun to be with. It was like a brotherhood.”

That Ryder Cup saw Weekley recreate the “Happy Gilmore” dance off the first tee on the final day.

“It was that Tuesday or Wednesday when we were doing our practice rounds and I came in and grabbed some food,” Weekley said. “There were two cops there and (“Happy Gilmore”) was on.

“We were laughing and cutting up with them, and I said, ‘I’m going to do that. If I hit it right where I’m looking over the top of the tree, I’m going to do it when I come off the tee box. ... It was just one of those things having fun. That’s what we’re out there to do.”

That year also saw Golf Digest report an orangutan story involving Weekley. He was a youth during the county fair in Milton when a guy pulled up in a truck with a cage and offered a big payday to anyone who could knock out his orangutan.

Signing a waiver and dressed with boxing gloves and headgear, a young Weekley stepped into the cage. Before he knew it, he was waking up in his truck asking his friends what happened.

They told him he got knocked out.

But beyond those moments or making gator noises during a round at the Zurich Classic in 2011, Weekley is an avid fisherman and hunter.

“As soon as I leave here, I’m going home and going hunting,” Weekley said. “It’s still deer hunting up there, so I’ll go back to the house and hunt.”

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.