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BOO WEEKLEY loves to fish almost as much as he loves to hunt, so he recognizes a baited hook when he sees one. Last week at the Masters, where Weekley was making his first appearance, at the age of 34, people kept fishing for compliments or superlatives. "Watcha thinka the course, Boo?" "How 'bout that Magnolia Lane, Boo?" "Ever see greens this fast, Boo?" But Weekley, who affects a homespun naivet� about two rural mailboxes shy of Forrest Gump's, refused to bite. � "I wasn't in awe, by no means," he said after his Tuesday practice round, shunning the Magnolia Lane lure. "It's just another bunch of trees and a golf course." He shrugged. "But it's a nice golf course. I don't want the chairman to take it the wrong way." He turned to his agent, Jimmy Johnston. "Who's the chairman? It's not Hootie anymore, is it?"
This exchange took place under a green-and-white umbrella on the Augusta National lawn. But don't get the wrong idea. Boo (official name: Thomas Brent Weekley) wasn't buying rounds of highballs for well-heeled friends with pastel sweaters tied around their necks. He was merely planting his elbows on the table long enough to satisfy a reporter and drain a plastic cup of ice water.
So the reporter cast another line—the one about how, while growing up in the Florida panhandle, Weekley must have spent many a summer afternoon dreaming that he had a five-foot putt to win the Masters.
Boo shook his head. "As a kid, I really wasn't thinkin' about no golf," he answered. "I only got serious about it maybe 10 years ago."
The ripples around the lure spread out in undisturbed circles. Weekley shrugged again and smiled. "It's all about the history, and I'm not a history guy."
The problem with that argument was that Boo wanted to make history by winning the Masters on his first try. That feat was last accomplished by Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, and Zoeller, old-timers pointed out, was a bit like Boo—an easygoing goober with a gift for folksy patter. An even better analog is Sam Snead, the smooth-swinging, yarn-spinning, occasionally barefoot Virginian who won three Masters titles in a Hall of Fame career. (After triumphing in his first Tour event, the 1937 Oakland Open, Snead famously asked how The New York Times had gotten his photograph. "I've never been in New York in my life," he scoffed.)
Is it an act? Those who know Weekley well—his hunting pals, his neighbors in Jay, Fla., his former teachers at Milton High—invariably say, "With Boo, what you see is what you get." Or, "He's genuine." But then Boo huddles with reporters behind the 18th green, as he did after a first-round 72, and you wonder if you've tuned into one of Jay Leno's sidewalk interviews with clueless passersby.
"Amen Corner?" Boo's eyebrows rise about an inch. "What's Amen Corner? Why is that a corner?" Asked about a putt for eagle that he had narrowly missed on 15, Boo says, "I thought it was a par-4, to tell you the truth. I didn't know it was a par-5." His parting words: "Thank y'all. You have a good one."
Boo's father and mother followed him for all 72 holes of the Masters, and while both of them satisfy the public imagination up to a point—Tom Weekley chews tobacco and bellows, "Yeah! Boo-Boo!" from behind the ropes, and Patsy Weekley keeps the sun off her forehead with outlandish hats—neither is a hick. Tom is a pharmacist and Patsy worked as a registered nurse. "They talk about Boo not knowing much about the Masters," Tom said, strolling through the pines by the 13th hole, "but he's read books and books on Ben Hogan. You can't read that much about Hogan and not know about the Masters." What's more, the Weekleys used to cross the cul-de-sac from their fairway home in Milton to the house of neighbor David Banks for his Masters-week barbecues, giving the ribs and the TV equal attention.
"But Boo ain't gonna tell nobody that," Tom said. "It's not really a front, but there's a side of him that people don't know."