Scooter Hobbs column: Golf comes naturally to Williams

NATCHITOCHES — If you’re trying to remain fairly incognito while making six NFL Pro Bowl appearances, then being stashed away in Buffalo playing for the Bills is about as close to the Witness Protection Program as you’re going to find.

But it all might backfire on Kyle Williams, the Ruston native who is here to be inducted into the latest class of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

First ballot, of course, the first year he’s eligible after a distinguished, if comparatively anonymous, 13-year career as defensive tackle in Buffalo — where, there at least, if unbeknownst to the national media, he was an über popular local icon.

That followed a sterling LSU career, again without a ton of fanfare for a three-year starter — beginning with Nick Saban’s 2003 national championship team — who eventually made second-team All-American.

The soft-spoken Williams seems fine with it that way.

But his cover may eventually get blown by, of all things, the dastardly game of golf.

Think of football/golfers and normally kickers and punters are on the first tee, maybe an occasional QB.

But Williams is plenty good at it.

In 2020 he finished second in the nationally televised American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, a celebrity event that’s a lot of fun but is basically reserved for really good golfer/athletes who made their names elsewhere, even, apparently, under cover of deep Buffalo.

He was runner-up to pro tennis star Mardy Fish.

He caught a lot of flack from his football buddies — getting beat up by a tennis person.

“I told them, ‘We weren’t fist-fighting,’” Williams said. “It was golf.”

He might have added that he finished just ahead of baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz (third) and basketball icon Stephen Curry (fourth), both well known for their golf antics.

“I do enjoy beating kickers and quarterbacks,” he says of the celebirty circuit.

Reader sensitivity alert, particularly golfers: You’re going to hate the rest of this story.

This golf tale — pretty well scratch, he admits, “when I’m playing well, although I can shoot an 80 at any time.” — is all done kind of in his spare time.

Although he won’t admit it in public. But it sounds like the world’s most frustrating game has kind of come easy for him.

Or at least way too easy for the average recreational golfer to comprehend.

He dabbled with the game in high school but wasn’t on the Ruston High team, and played fairly regularly simply to relax while at LSU.

But it wasn’t until after he started returning to LSU in the NFL offseasons — he’d married a Baton Rouge girl — living near the University Club that he really started playing.

It wasn’t all a breeze.

“I played with a group of guys, half of them played college golf or baseball,” he recalls. “End of the day, I was always peeling off $100 bills.

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