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.
I really disliked the Butler Cabin ceremony at Augusta. I always felt that the best thing to do would be to go right to the public presentation of the green jacket, with emotions still at a fever pitch and all the people and a national TV audience there to see it. To go inside the flower-infested catacombs of the Butler Cabin and watch the club chairmen perform the ceremony they were helpless — really let the air out of the balloon. One year Hord Hardin asked Bernhard Langer how he pronounced his name. Another year he asked Seve how tall he was. I would watch this with my face in my hands, but the club wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, well. FRANK CHIRKINIAN