Fall events offer players a chance to get head start

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NAPA, Calif. – Rickie Fowler raised some eyebrows last month when he announced that he was playing next week’s stop in Las Vegas.

His rationale? He didn’t want to fall behind on the FedEx Cup points list. 

In Year 3 of the wraparound schedule, it’s clear that getting a head start can go a long way come playoff time.

Those who play more are rewarded. 

After the birth of his first child, Adam Scott didn’t play his first tournament of the year until Doral. He was bounced from the playoffs after the second event.

Steven Bowditch always plays several tournaments in the fall to give himself a cushion later in the season, in case he hits a rough patch.

“That’s definitely starting to get on the guys’ mind a little more,” he said, “They don’t want to be behind the 8-ball to start the season.” 

Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose are both playing this week in Napa because of an agreement with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, but even the stars realize there’s an added benefit that goes beyond the weather or the world-renowned food and wine.

“It seems like any time I come back to the Tour in February a lot of guys have played eight, 10 events already and I am sort of trying to play catch-up,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get my PGA Tour season off to a good start here.”

Rose, who finished eighth in the FedEx Cup, said he “definitely” felt a bit of pressure last season after playing only two Tour events before Florida. 

“I try to look at it as, OK, what are the tournaments I really want to play well in? What are the tournaments I want to win? That’s obviously the majors and obviously the FedEx Cup and playoff events and World Golf Championships," he said. "All of that fell between April and September. 

“The year is really long and you’ve got to pace yourself. There is no doubt I would love to be in a stronger position earlier in the year. That’s not a position I would like to put myself in again.” 

Which is why Rose said he would prefer a true, eight-week offseason, so everyone starts from square one. 

“Who can go away and reinvent themselves and come out better the next season?” he said. “That’s all part of the job. Now you need to figure out different ways of doing that.”