KAPALUA, Hawaii – Lose weight. Quit smoking. Eat better. Exercise more. Get organized. Play better golf.
Congratulations. At least one of your New Year’s resolutions mirrors that of every professional golfer.
Most of us are seeking a fresh start to the year and those who tee it up for big bucks are no different. With this week’s season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions set to begin Friday, even those who have reached the pinnacle of the game have set goals for the upcoming campaign.
And yes, they all include playing better golf.
“I don't know about other players, but my goal is to make it to Maui. This is what we have always wanted to do is to play here, qualify for this event and then come here,” Masters champion Bubba Watson opined this week. “So for me it's about winning a golf tournament. And the second thing is making the team event. In the U.S., we have a team event every year. We don't have a year off. This year it's the Presidents Cup, so that would be the second goal. I got my Tour card for five years now. So that would have been No. 3, to keep my Tour card, but I'm good for five years.”
It’s a familiar refrain here in paradise, where the relaxed local atmosphere matches the competitors’ attitudes. With everyone in the field already fully exempt through at least the end of the 2014 season, they can each focus on bigger and better goals than those primarily just hoping to stay afloat.
“I definitely want to make sure I'm ready to play every time that I tee it up,” Rickie Fowler said. “I want to be in contention more often and work towards having a multiple-win season. Finally got the first one out of the way, so started trying to pick off a few more from there.”
For some players, these preseason goals are less about certain accomplishments and more about the process …
“There are certain things that I set goals on,” explained Hunter Mahan. “Not so much wins or losses or anything like that, trying to win this tournament or put myself in this category. That's too hard I think; that's too broad. I think it needs to be more specific and so I've got some things I want to improve on. It's not about winning or putting myself up in this category, because if I do these things well, that will put me up there, but there's things I need to improve on and get better at.”
… while others dive right into specific achievements.
“Presidents Cup is a big goal of mine,” Brandt Snedeker revealed. “Never played on one of those and I want to do that, especially with Freddie [Couples] being the captain, pretty special. I think to start the year, my main goal is to make the FedEx Cup finale and Tour Championship, to get there and know that you have to play some pretty great golf and win some tournaments. That's my main goal.
“And obviously majors are a big goal going into this year, a bunch of really good setups for me. I don't say my goal is to win a major; my goal is to get myself in contention to win a major. Did it last year at the British Open and want to try to do it a couple more times – a couple chances a year at it, so those are the main goals. Whether that happens or not, I don't know, but I feel like I can make those happen pretty easily.”
Whether specifically stated in a neatly written checklist or vaguely considered in ambiguous terms, every single PGA Tour player has some sort of goals for the year.
You won’t find many – any, really – whose list doesn’t include working harder, playing better and receiving improved results.
“Good, bad or indifferent, I’ve never been one to set goals,” said J.J. Henry, who captured last year’s Reno-Tahoe Open. “I just do the things I need to do; I let things fall the way they may. If I work on my short game and wedges, I feel like a lot of things take care of themselves. That’s everybody’s goal. It’s easy to sit here and say it, but another thing to go out there and do it.”
Henry then pauses for a moment, considers what else he’d like to accomplish this year and realizes, “I’d like to lose about 10 pounds.”
OK, so maybe you have more than one resolution in common with the world’s best golfers after all.