Golf Secondary to Fun This Week

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World ResortLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- J.J. Henry finished his practice round Wednesday, then headed across the street to the Magic Kingdom to join his wife and 2-year-old son.
It's a much different itinerary than he would have at any other PGA TOUR event.
Sure, birdies and eagles remain the main goal, but Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck may be equally important animals this week at the Funai Classic at Disney.
'It is a vacation,' Henry said. 'For as much as we travel and as much as we play golf week-in and week-out, everybody asks, 'What do you do when you go on vacation?' Well, most of the time I go home. That's just the way it is. You travel 30 weeks a year and you just want to go home. This week is different.'
Golfers and their families stay at Disney World hotels, a short monorail ride from numerous theme parks. Some consider it a distraction. Others view it as a welcome retreat.
'It's a much different feel than what we're used to on a regular tour event,' Trevor Immelman said. 'I think the guys welcome that this time of year.'
With two weeks remaining until the season-ending TOUR Championship in Atlanta, some guys also need to play well to stay in -- or move into -- the top 30 on the money list and earn a spot in the field.
Henry falls into that category, sitting 28th and two spots ahead of the cutoff point.
'I feel like I have something to play for the next couple of weeks,' said Henry, who won his first PGA TOUR event at the Buick Championship in July and made the U.S. Ryder Cup team. 'It's important to me. There's no question it's a big goal of mine to go out and play well the next couple of weeks.
'I've done a little money list watching, there's no doubt, the last month or so. But at the same time, I can't worry about that. I can only control what I can do -- go out and play well these next two weeks and hopefully lock up that spot.'
Even though he wants to play well at Disney, Henry still brought along a good friend to work as his caddy this week. Why?
'He has three little girls,' he said.
'It's a fun week,' Henry added. 'It's a very laid-back week in a lot of ways. ... As much as you want to play good golf, you want to have fun, too.'
So golfers bring spouses, children, parents, aunts, uncles, friends and others along for the week. The tournament format adds to the relaxed environment.
Golfers play Thursday and Friday in a pro-am format, pairing each professional with an amateur for the first 36 holes. One round is played on the beefed-up Magnolia Course, and the other is played on the considerably easier Palm Course.
Things might be different had Tiger Woods opted to play. But he decided to skip Disney, where he missed the cut a year ago, and put his consecutive PGA TOUR wins streak on hold.
Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy also chose not to make the trip, leaving Vijay Singh as the only golfer in the top five on the money list to play at Disney.
The field also includes Stuart Appleby, David Love III, Chris DiMarco -- and plenty of golfers planning their week around trips to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom.
'It's always fun to come here, whether you're 2 like my son or 58 like my dad,' Henry said. 'From a young kid to a grandparent, it seems like there's always neat things to do here.'
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