Tour players are required to compete in a minimum of 15 events per season, with few restrictions. Woods took two months off in the summer when his father's health was failing and played a career-low 15 times this year, while Mickelson played in 19 events. He hasn't played since August.
Woods played seven times in nine weeks, but hasn't played in a month. Last Friday, he wrote on his Web site that he needed more time to "recharge my batteries." That said, he leaves this weekend to play for the second consecutive year at foreign tour events in China and Japan, where he will receive an estimated $6 million in appearance fees.
The PGA Tour prohibits appearance fees, but its players can accept them overseas.
Woods and Mickelson are not alone in their part-timer philosophy, necessarily. Heading into play this week, five of the top 10 players in earnings had entered fewer than 20 of the 47 official events.
"We are all independent contractors," Oberholser said, smirking and repeating a common player theme. "That's the most politically correct way I can put it."
If Woods at the moment is too tired to play after a four-week break, what does next year portend? The top guns will be expected to play six times in a seven-week stretch as the FedEx Cup series race heats up to its fender-bending finale, a stretch that also includes a World Golf Championship event and the PGA Championship, the season's final major. Woods and Mickelson previously have indicated that they plan to play for as long as they feel sharp, mentally and physically.
Maybe "fiscally" is more apt.
It is, however, a remarkable thing that though golf courses are often in lovely places it frequently so happens that the beauties of the landscape are to be seen from anywhere except the course. Who, for instance, ever heard of a self-respecting sea-side course where one could get a view of the sea! One may hear it perhaps roaring or murmuring, according to its mood, beyond an interminable row of sandhills, but save with the artificial aid of a high tee one never dreams of seeing it. So it is at Portrush, in accordance with the best traditions, and only two or three times in the course of the round does a view of the surrounding beauties threaten our mental concentration on the matter in hand. BERNARD DARWIN