He Fights the Eternal Grind

By George WhiteOctober 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
Its one of the most stressful moments of a persons career, this 125 business. Finish in the 125 or better and youre eligible to play next season. Finish below that, and at best your itinerary becomes risky indeed. Sponsors exemptions a spot or two for Nos. 126-150 for some, a past-champions exemption or two but for the average Joe, life on the wrong side of 125 is a kiss of death.
 
There are two more weekends to make the 125, this week and then next week at Tampa. For some, it is most definitely life-changing. If you dont make it above the water-line, you sometimes find it is an impossible task. Some will try after being exempt this year, yet never again make it.
 
Bob Burns was almost that person last year. He was in danger of missing the 125, yet a victory at Walt Disney saved him. His win bought him a little time, but he admits this in-again, out-again business is getting old. Hes been chasing 125 since 1992, sometimes making enough money to play on the PGA Tour, sometimes lapsing back onto the Nationwide Tour.
 
Burns is a typical guy who continually chases that magic number. He was an all-American at Cal State-Northridge, won the 1990 NCAA Division II Championship. That wasnt so difficult, but ever since his house was near the epicenter of the 1994 California earthquake, it seems like nothing has been easy for him.
 
He played the Nationwide in 92 and 93, then made the big tour in 94 and 95. In 96, he was in the minor leagues again on the Nationwide, yo-yoed back up to the bigs in 97, then back again to the minors in 98. But since 1999, hes managed to hang on, putting in time at the 93, 99 and 03 Q-Schools along the way.
 
You can't take anything for granted, Burns said, especially if you are one of the guys that's always trying to get that 125 spot - which I have been in my career. So you have to treat every tournament as if its a qualifier for the next year.
 
Not to downplay it, you are playing to win the tournament, but you know, (it) just doesn't always work out that way. You see a lot of people haven't won out here. A few people have won a lot. So there's a big discrepancy there.
 
There was always that nagging little knife in between his shoulder blades, ready to twist in any given October. He lives an existence that is far more traveled than the 30-40 guys who seem to always be winning. These men, the ones who are always on the outside looking in, are the lifeblood of the tour, bouncing up and down between the regular tour and the Nationwide, making what by normal standards is a comfortable living, but always fearful that this year might be the last one.
 
I have been on the bubble quite a bit, Burns said in the classic understatement. Even when I got my card through the Nike (now Nationwide) Tour (in 1998), I was 14th on the money list going into the last event there. And I won the (Tour) Championship; ended up finishing first on the money list, so I guess it's not anything terribly unusual for me.
 
But coming in last year, 118 on the money list - I think I had about $535,000, right about what we felt the number was going to be at the end of the year. Not that I felt secure, but I knew I still needed some good tournaments coming in. I had played pretty well at Vegas; ended up missing the cut by one. It really inspired me to come here and play well because I felt like my game was in good shape.
 
And, of course, he ended up winning on the Disney courses. This year, though, its the same song, umpteenth verse ' he ranks 156th on the money list. Hes missed 15 of 26 cuts, although lately it looks like hes found it again. He has made the cut in nine of his last 11 events. Unfortunately, of course, the door is about to slam just as he finally is about to get it together. Remember, theres just this week and next week.
 
For Burns, though, this is a year when he can stop worrying. His victory last year brought him a two-year exemption ' this year was the first, next year will be the last. Burns, now 35, hopes its time he broke the chain. Hes getting awfully tired of having to sweat it out every October.
 
I'd be lying if none of the guys that are on that bubble coming down to the end of the year, including myself - obviously we're thinking about it, he said.
 
I'd say at this point in my career, even the last couple of years of my career, I haven't put as much pressure on myself; whereas, I have to do it, I have to succeed because I know that there's always golf to be played.
 
It's my job. I have learned that. I have been doing it for almost thirteen years. I will continue to do it and I will play out here for a long time, you know, I might not finish in the 125 every year, I might not win every year, but I still think I have got quite a few good years in me.
 
Hes one of the boys who have always struggled for the 125. Burns doesnt like it one bit, but the fact is undeniable. Finish on the wrong side of that number, and golf isnt a game anymore. Its nothing but an occupation ' an ugly, grinding occupation.
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.