Major Winners Balance Schedules

RSS

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.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs