ON GOLFPausing Between Shots, Just to Regroup
Whether they use commercial airlines or private jets, every golfer is flying blind when it comes to finding the right cruising altitude.Phil Mickelson’s withdrawal last week from the Memorial Tournament, after a first round in which he looked as wilted as a month-old flower arrangement, trained a spotlight on perhaps the greatest hazard golfers have to negotiate: their calendars.How does one achieve a work-life balance that facilitates success on the course and succor off it? It’s the question that confounds golfers young and older, from the 23-year-old Rory McIlroy to Mickelson, a 21-year pro.McIlroy and Mickelson were among the 20 players ranked in the world top 30 who were entered at the Memorial, but neither made it to the weekend. Also missing the cut was Bubba Watson, the reigning Masters champion. His game was, by his own admission, rusty after he took four weeks off to bond with the baby boy that he and his wife, Angie, recently adopted.Despite one of the strongest fields outside the majors, the Memorial’s final day saw Tiger Woods rise to the top of a leader board in which the top 11 finishers included five players who had never won on tour. Woods was the only major champion in the top 12.For the top players, the pursuit of FedEx points, endorsement dollars and down time can be a race with no clear winning strategy. Often, the players find themselves changing their approach on the run. After missing the cut at the Players Championship and the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy called an audible and entered this week’s St. Jude Classic in Memphis.“I just feel like I need some rounds,” he said before the Memorial. “These two-day weeks aren’t really that good for me.”McIlroy laughed. “I’m working on a few things,” he said, “and I feel trying to put them into competition will be the best way for me to prepare going into the U.S. Open.”McIlroy had another two-day week at the Memorial, and his United States Open title defense looks shakier than the ground on which the Open course at San Francisco’s Olympic Club was built.It’s clear McIlroy hasn’t settled on a road map for the majors. He prepared for the Masters by not playing any competitive golf in the three weeks leading up to the tournament. It was a decision that opened him to criticism even before he faded over the weekend and finished in a tie for 40th.Pacing is a real challenge in golf, and we’re not talking about slow play. How does one fashion a schedule in a sport in which every tournament is like a 1,500-meter run, every season is a marathon and a professional career can span decades?The Memorial’s host, Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 majors, said that in his day players routinely drove from one tour stop to the next. The travel was arduous, especially for golfers with young families in tow. “Everything is just magnified,” Nicklaus said. “The attention is magnified. The press is magnified.”He added, “I did occasionally play three weeks in a row, but very, very, very rarely.”After he failed to advance to the weekend at the Players, his second consecutive start, McIlroy stopped in Rome to be with his girlfriend, the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. On he went to London for the BMW PGA Championship, where he again played poorly.“I might have taken my eye off the ball a little bit,” he acknowledged.How so? “I don’t know,” he said, “maybe just not practicing as hard as I might have been.”McIlroy’s tone was unapologetic. He’d rather take breaks in his schedule now than have too much time on his hands in 10 or 20 years.“I don’t want to be burned out by the time I’m 30,” he said. “I want to try and prolong my career as much as I can.”Although Mickelson has rheumatoid arthritis, which can flare up in conditions like the cold, wet weather that moved into the Columbus area on Thursday night, he did not mention the condition. He said he could not remember the last time he withdrew for a reason other than being hurt.“I’ve got to be more big-picture oriented, and think about the Open and what’s best to get my best golf out there and I need the next few days to rest up a little bit,” Mickelson said.On Monday he was back on the course, at a corporate function. For the touring pros, all independent contractors, the mill wheel keeps on turning, grinding golf into gold.
It sure is......but consider this: Weemac's golf idol = Tiger Woods. Last year Weemac played 22+ tournaments all over the world. And then decided two things:
(1) He would become a member of the PGA Tour and find a home in the Jupiter area
(2) PLUS he would reduce the number of tournaments because "it's all about the majors and being ready/fresh".
Now the reality......at 23 his game is not solidified enough to go weeks without playing competitive golf and he has fallen in love with someone whose schedule is as wicked as his. Not only is he playing a lighter schedule, but ignoring his game to pursue Carolyn.
Trying to copycat his idol is: A recipe for disaster rather than success.......
PS....not excuses.....just pure observation!