Major Winners Balance Schedules

By Mercer BaggsDecember 5, 2003, 5:00 pm
Theres something to be said about taking off a couple of months from your job. Hang around the house with your family. Enjoy the holiday season. Return to work refreshed and ready for productivity.
Then again
Theres also something to be said for being wanted outside of the household. Having been so successful in your profession that others want you to showcase your talents in person ' for compensation, of course.
This is Mike Weir. And, for that matter, each of the four 2003 major champions.
Its a big difference in the so-called off-season compared to what I had last year, said Weir as he was wrapping up his official season on the PGA Tour at the Tour Championship.
Weir didnt qualify for the season finale last year. He didnt win an event in 2002 ' didnt even make a top-10.
I was done from Vegas (Oct. 2002) until the Phoenix Open (Jan. 2003) ' so almost three months I had off to enjoy some time at home and get ready for this season, he said.
And, my, how that time away has proved rewarding.
Weir won two of his first four events this year to let it be known that he was back among the upper-echelon of tour players.
He then won the Masters to join the game's truly elite, and become a wanted man by tournament organizers around the world.
A major champion gets many an invitation ' during and after the official PGA Tour season ' to compete in events across the globe. Weir accepted a few, like the HSBC World Match Play in Surrey, England.
But that was during the competitive season.
Hes not willing to sacrifice the majority of his down time with his family to go traipsing from continent to continent in search of Dollar Bill.
Hes already traveled to South Africa for the Presidents Cup, and hes set to join his major colleagues in this weeks PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. Next week, hell compete in Tiger Woods Target World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
That only leaves us a couple of weeks until the Mercedes (Championships) starts up (the first week in January), he said. Thats only a small amount of time to get yourself ready for next year.
Its a totally different winter season than what I had last year.
Ben Curtis concurs ' in a separate yet similar way.
Unlike Weir, Curtis was quite active over the final two months of 2002.
I played all the way up to the 14th of December (last year), Curtis said. Thats the way it will be this year.
Its really no different. Theres lots of golf to play. Im just playing in different events this year.
Curtis kept busy last year in making a successful run through the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Athletes love to say, I shocked the world! But Curtis literally did when he shockingly won this years British Open in his first-ever major championship.
Consequently, his world ' not to mention his schedule ' was scrambled like an egg.
Curtis had competed in only two PGA Tour events prior to this season. But with the Claret Jug on his resume, he found himself in elite fields like the World Golf Championships NEC Invitational and American Express Championship. He also received invitations to compete in the European Tours Trophee Lancome and HSBC World Match Play, and the Taheiyo Masters in Japan.
After the PGA Grand Slam, he will join Weir in the Target World Challenge.
Shaun Micheel was also extended an invitation to compete in Tigers limited-field event.
Micheel, like Curtis, quickly discovered how being a major champion can alter ones schedule both during and after the official season.
Micheel has already played the NEC, American Express, dunhill links championship on the European Tour, HSBC, and the Franklin Templeton Shootout ' all events he would have had to watch on television had he not won the PGA Championship.
After the Grand Slam and the Target, that leaves him only a few weeks to enjoy some quality time with his wife and newborn, and get in a little practice before the Mercedes.
I get about a couple of weeks off, which is fine, Micheel said. I do like my time off, but last year I took a lot more time off and it took me a lot longer to get back to playing well again. I enjoy playing. I am not much of a practicer.
Likewise, Jim Furyk will spend the last few weeks of December on diaper duty.
Furyks wife, Tabitha, is expecting their second child in mid-December; therefore, he decided to play as much as he could in the off-season up until that point.
Furyk said he usually likes to play a couple of tournaments following the Tour Championship. The WGC-World Cup, the Presidents Cup, and the Grand Slam fit this years bill.
Even if he wasnt about to add to his family unit, its unlikely that Furyk would wear himself out playing golf in December.
Thats because this years U.S. Open champion has played plenty already.
I have played a lot of events this year ' couple of events over my normal, which is 25, said Furyk, who played in a career-high 27 PGA Tour events, primarily in order to increase his chance of winning Player of the Year honors.
You have to take the time off somewhere, Furyk added. That time is going to be in January or February, if I start playing too much through December.
So, this years crop of major champions ' particularly the unheralded winners ' has taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them due to their success.
But, in contrast to some of their predecessors ' Mark OMeara and Rich Beem come to mind ' they are not wearing themselves out over the final few months in pursuit of monetary compensation, not overindulging in the spoils of their respective victories.
Instead, they seem content to play here and there, pick up a few extra paychecks, spend some time at home, and get in a little rest and practice before they have to turn their calendars.
And that may well prove a positive thing.
Because 2004 is ready to rear its head. And he has absolutely no interest in what anyone has accomplished the year before.
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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

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“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.