PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Undercover Tour Pro

July 01, 2015

I could name you 15 guys who are guaranteed to give up the moment they get to five over.

I've laid down like an old dog. If I play 30 tournaments a year, inevitably there are going to be a few when I just mail it in. Either I'm tired or my swing's a mess. I want nothing more than to get off the golf course and refresh for the next week. I know guys who grind even when they're missing the cut by a dozen. Respect for giving the fans everything they got, but that ain't me. You're guaranteed to find a few cases of less-than-total-effort in the first five pairings on a Sunday morning. The difference between T-70 and T-50 is probably only a couple grand, so you've got to go super low with 63 or 64 to pass enough players to make it really worthwhile. If you don't make a bunch of birdies right away, you basically accept that it's not going to happen and start thinking about the airport. Plenty of groups will finish in three hours on Sunday. When we're not trying our hardest on every shot, pros can play rattle-bottom golf pretty darn fast.

You can even see it on Thursday. I could name you 15 guys who are guaranteed to give up the moment they get to five over. When I'm paired with them, I can usually pinpoint the moment. He putts a three-footer without reading the break. Or he tees off on a par 3 without getting a yardage from his caddie. Sometimes it's completely obvious, like he breaks his putter and putts the rest of the way by bellying a wedge. It's hard to be a perfect professional at all times, myself included. When you've just dunked two in the water, your care meter can drop pretty low, even if you're on TV.

I mostly don't mind seeing a player give up, because it means there's one less name in the field I have to beat. Though some guys get pretty ticked off by quitters, which I can also understand. We feed off each other out here. If your playing partner makes a birdie and you answer with a birdie, sometimes that can really build. If your playing partner loses interest and starts rushing shots, that can affect your rhythm, and pretty soon you're making bogeys, too. I once told a rookie who was throwing clubs and whining to do it on his time. Don't get in my way, pal. Though if I'm playing really well, I tend to get in my own little world where I don't even notice what's going on around me.

The best attitude, of course, is to always try. Coming down the last few holes of a missed cut, if you can find a swing thought that clicks or something else that's going to help you the next week, then the tournament isn't a total loss. If my playing partner is a friend and also playing bad, I might ask if he wants to play for $50 a hole coming in. I realize that's ridiculous given the size of our purses, but a little internal game helps me stay focused. I've made over $25 million in my career, but it's still a thrill getting into someone else's wallet.

When it comes to really quitting, stomping off the course mid-round, the tour insists we give a reason. You can tell them anything. I've said I've had an injury when I didn't. It's silly. If a guy wants to quit, why not just let him go home so he can try to get ready for the next week? There's a caddie out here who likes to say, "He's suffering from a torn heart muscle."