To play or not to play, that is the question.
Before a major championship, that is.
Tiger Woods, of course, is dead set against it, even if on those occasions when he has played before a major, he has won. (In 2007, he captured the Bridgestone and PGA back-to-back.)
Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, played poorly at this year’s Masters and will tell you it’s because he didn’t compete the week before. The man is sold on the playing-his-way-into-a-major philosophy.
Adam Scott has gravitated to the Woods method, sometimes choosing to take two or three weeks off before a major championship. There’s no mystery as to why he has leaned this way. “For the first 10 years, it didn’t work,” Scott said of his prep for the majors. “I had poor results.”
But since adopting the philosophy of more practice and less play, Scott has improved dramatically in majors. In his past 12 majors, dating to the 2010 Open Championship, Scott has seven top-15 finishes, including this year’s Masters victory, and missed only one cut.
The latest to settle on a system? Keegan Bradley. Though he has firmly established himself as a world-class player, Bradley has played in only seven major championships. Three times he has played the week before; four times he hasn’t. His decision?
“I feel I play better (in the major) if I play the week before,” Bradley said, which is why he teed it up at the John Deere Classic last week.
His track record validates his thinking. The week before he won the 2011 PGA, Bradley tied for 15th at the Bridgestone. In 2012, he fared well in Houston (T-4) the week before making a respectable debut Masters (T-27). Later that year, he won Bridgestone, then tied for third at the PGA.
Bradley’s poor Masters this year and missed cut in the U.S. Open were preceded by open weeks, so he signed on for the Deere, at which he tied for 61st.
“(Plus), I thought the charter (after the Deere) was a good idea,” Bradley said. “It just fit in perfectly.”