It is wonderfully reassuring to know that there remains room for the eccentric in professional sport. This is especially true in the elitist environs of golf, where true characters seem in short supply. While the defending Scottish Open champion Graeme McDowell and former winners in Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els were airing their hopes and expectations ahead of today's first round at Loch Lomond, the burly American Boo Weekley was discussing the time he slept in a van.
"All I need is a place to lay my head down, to keep the rain and the wind and the little bit of coldness off me," said the fellow from Florida as he staggered into a press conference yesterday morning wearing a waterproof top that resembled Arctic survival gear. Speaking in a Southern drawl that sounded straight out of the movie Deliverance, Weekley is a colourful contributor in what is a repetitive sport. Not that Weekley has been been failing to deliver in recent times. "No way, sir," as he would say.
It is easy to portray Weekley as some kind of country bumpkin, but his mannerisms belie a ferocious competitor. His wins at the Verizon Heritage tournament over the past two years allowed Weekley to finalise a spot on the US Ryder team, where he flourished as Europe were throttled by five points in Valhalla last September. Weekley was undefeated on his debut. He and JB Holmes provided a fearsome pairing in the fourballs, before Weekley indulged in a spot of bravado by riding his driver like a horse on the first fairway of his 4&2 win in the singles over Oliver Wilson.
"I still can't believe I did that, looking back," said Weekley. "You never know. If I've got a 10-stroke lead on 18 here on Sunday, I might ride it all the way up the fairway." Weekley is close friends with another maverick figure, John Daly, who has also washed up on the shores of Loch Lomond. Weekley has a penchant for Scotland, even if he does not delve into the history of the ancient game. He did not know that the Scottish course of St Andrews was the home of golf.
He also did not know that the Scotsman Sandy Lyle won the US Masters in 1988. "I don't know nothing about the history of golf," said Weekley. For Weekley, 35, golf seems to be a means to an end. "I know what it is like to work from five in the morning and working eight hours a day, 10 hours a day at a plant - and I got tired of that. "I decided to try at something a little different," said the golfer who has swapped the van for a hotel while retaining his traits as an individualist.