Here's the news: I'm going to make my Champions tour debut in the Administaff Small Business Classic at the Woodlands near Houston on Oct. 21. I'll play the AT&T Championship in San Antonio the following week, too.
Here's the interesting part: Deciding whether to play the senior tour or fight it out with the young guns on the PGA Tour is really hard.
After I won twice in 2009, bringing my victory total to 14, I said my goal was to win 20 times on the PGA Tour. That's what I was focused on when 2010 began. Then, five minutes before I teed off at Kapalua back in January, I hit a putt on the practice green and the head fell off my putter. That was a magical putter a guy had given me a few years ago, and it simply flat-out broke. I looked at my son, Justin, who is also my caddie, and said, "It's going to be a bad year."
We laughed, but unfortunately I was right. My putting has been horrendous. I reshafted that magic putter four times, and it still doesn't look right or feel as good. I've tried a million different putters, and nothing has worked. I've also lost 10 yards off the tee. I used to dominate the par-5s, but now I'm not reaching many of them in two, so I have to rely on my wedge and my putter, which have never been my strengths. Instead of 68s, I'm shooting 71s and 72s. That's the difference between contending and finishing in the 30th-to-70th range. It's also the difference between having fun and not. It's been a frustrating year, and I'm worn out.
October 3, 2010
On top of that, I turned 50 in August and found out I'm going to be a granddad. Our oldest daughter, Lesslye, is expecting. My wife, Sandy, is already buying baby gifts. It's going to be an exciting time but one that could make the grind of the PGA Tour that much less appealing.
That's why the Champions tour is such a dilemma. It seems so relaxed out there. I could continue to play and do well while placing a lot less strain on my life. But I'm exempt on the PGA Tour for four years (two for winning last year, plus two one-time career-money-list exemptions), and I'm not ready to give up on my 20-win goal.
For now, I'm going to try to do a little of both. After these two Champions tour events I'm going to take a long break, during which I'll simply relax at home and work on my old cars. Then I'll play all my favorites on the PGA Tour—the Transitions, Colonial, the Memorial and several others—and cherry-pick the Champions tour events that fit into my PGA Tour schedule, particularly those that are near a beach. That's Sandy's idea.
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