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“I sat down and wrote him a two-page letter and told him I was sad to read that he had those feelings and explained what I always thought and felt about him,” Haack said. “To his credit, three days later he called me. Talked for an hour on the phone. It gave him an opportunity to talk about why he felt that way and gave me an opportunity to explain that it had nothing to do with him personally. I told him I was going to disappoint one of you guys and I was sorry that it had to be him.

“But also a lot of great things came out of that. He probably worked a little harder to prove me wrong. Also, in the time he spent not traveling with the team, he met Angie. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and generally things in life turn out if you do things right.”

On this point, Watson is in full agreement.

“From a personal aspect, it helped me more than it hurt me,” he said. “I was home so I was able to meet my girlfriend, my wife. I got to practice on my own. Got to refocus and think about how tough life is. It made me stronger as a golfer, for sure.”

The conversation rekindled Watson’s interest in returning to Georgia to finish his degree.

“I said I don’t know why I didn’t play, I don’t care why I didn’t play – I’m over it,” Watson said. “But I want to graduate from the University of Georgia.”

Said Haack: “He was sponsoring junior golf and would talk to kids and it was very important to him to be able to talk to those kids about getting their degree and he never felt like he could before. That meant something to him.”

With Haack’s help, Watson met with the dean to determine what he needed to do to complete his degree in consumer economics. When Watson came to Athens for required coursework, he stayed at Haack’s house.

“He helped me do that and made it possible,” Wat­son said. “I have no ill feelings toward him. He has none toward me.”

Angie Watson said getting his degree was a big step forward for Bubba.

“All part of growing up for him and being a bigger man,” she said. “Sometimes when we know we’ve made the wrong decision in life, sometimes the guilt of that is hard to live with. When we make it right, it feels that much more gratifying. Bubba would look back at some of the decisions he made when he was younger that he didn’t make the right decision not getting his diploma at Georgia. For him to go back made everything right and it’s good.”

Watson immediately put the Georgia “G” logo on his golf bag, something “special” he would not do until he earned that diploma.

“He wanted to be able to wear it proudly,” Haack said.

Watson has been a visible supporter for Georgia ever since. He’s been honored more than once between the hedges at Sanford Stadium during football games. He also won a bet against Angie’s former women’s basketball coach, Andy Landers, by hitting a golf ball out of Sanford Stadium.

“Coach Landers didn’t think he could get a driver up quick enough,” Angie said.

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