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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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.