Yesterday I read an article by Jason Sobel about whether PGA Tour players, especially those searching for their first Tour win, should consider focusing on a non-Major PGA Tour event and prepare similar to others like Tiger and Phil would for the Majors they are shooting for. Sobel used the example of Brendon de Jonge (my definition of insanity for 3 years picking him to win countless tournaments!) ; de Jonge played the most events on Tour in 2013 (30) and made a comfortable $1.8 million but only had 4 Top 10's, with his best finish being a T-6 at the Waste Management Open.
Could de Jonge have done better (or even had a win) if maybe he had scaled down a few events and spent some extra time at a course that suites his game in order to get a win (and most likely an invite to the Masters)? Man, that just makes sense to me! (Read Sobel's article here to get de Jonge's thoughts!)
Overall I think there's a lot to be said about schedule management and tournament preparation if you're trying to break that glass ceiling into the W floor. And while I think a lot of people think the life of a Tour player is about as cushy as it gets, the fatigue and mental pressure has got to build up if you are on the road over half of the year.
For those of you that know me you're probably surprised I waited this long to name drop Steve Stricker and his limited playing schedule. While Stricker did go winless in 2013, he made over $4.4 million in just 13 events. He made every cut and had 11 Top 25's and 8 Top 10's. Obviously Stricker and de Jonge are not the same person with the same experience, but I'm guessing it didn't come as a surprise to many when other players starting talking of "limited schedules" for the 2014 season, namely Phil Mickelson.
I have to say I think I really buy into Sobel's point of view and think that he should make a deal with de Jonge to pick a tourney and write about the whole thing!!
But then today I read Troy Klongerbo's (of US Golf TV) response to Jason Sobel's article. Troy made some interesting points about how focusing too much on one event could actually be a determent. I think there is truth to what Klongerbo says about finding a comfort zone, and I think more importantly, finding a course that can suit the best parts of a Tour Player's game.
But here's my takeaway from both insightful articles - it seems almost impossible for me to believe that EVERY PGA Tour player isn't ramping up in some way for every Major (well, at least those they they are qualifying for!). I've already seen multiple photos from Tour players showing their Masters Invitation. And while I'd guess that some players may consider Augusta National a "comfort zone" , I'd also imagine that no matter how many times they play it, those greens scare the crap out of them when they get in the wrong spot. I'd want to drug test any player that replies with a ho-hum response after finishing any round in a Major.
Depending on who you talk to, most Tour Pro's live the same motto I do on the golf course... It's not about winning or losing...it's about winning. (Of course mine references our local golf scrambles!) But it makes me wonder if the pressure of not winning on Sunday is worse than the pressure created in anticipation of the next event. I think what trips up most players isn't what's coming, it's what creeps in their brain from some past round or even 1 single shot. I play in a women's event with one of my golf pals and just about every year I stink it up - and I guarantee you that by the 4th hole I've already said, at least one, "I don't know why I come here, I don't like this course". So there's pressure and then there's mental stumbling blocks...I think I'll stick with the latter as for what might bring a guy down.
When the golf world has categories like "best player without a Major" and best player without a win", there's going to be pressure not matter what.
But an aside from all of this, from the fan perspective, I'm 100% grateful that de Jonge chose to play 30 events so golf fans all over the country can go and see wonderful professional golfers. I will always love Steve Stricker, but 13 events makes it tough on fans...we want to see our guys all the time!! Yes, I know we can get to know all the new guys, but don't lie to me, we all have our favorites.
I think both Jason and Troy have it right - pick the right tournaments and then find your comfort zone - now Brendon de Jonge - go out and win the Sony Open for me!!!!
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