Some people claim golf is not a “real” sport.
The usual reasoning: no running involved, no sweating unless the temperatures are in the 90s, nobody is tackling you or bumping into you, etc.
However, here’s the case on the opposite side: incredible eye-hand coordination is required, and strength is a needed requisite as you have to be able to routinely hit a golf ball the length of three football fields with one swing of a skinny club. Also, there is the repeated practice to hone skills, and, finally, mental toughness and focus is probably the most important requirement.
Paul Goydos, the defending champion of the Allianz Championship that will be held Friday through Sunday this week on the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, embodies both sides of the sport or no-sport argument … or discussion, if you want to be polite.
Goydos, age 52 and a two-time winner on the regular PGA Tour in his 22-year career, works hard to achieve what he achieves, but he also knows there is a time to take a step back and enjoy things and, maybe more importantly, also not wear out the body parts — particularly when you are on the PGA Tour Champions competing among the somewhat-creaky over-50 crowd of golf’s best veterans.
Goydos was asked what he did to prepare himself during his most relaxed time of year, the offseason. His laughing response:
“Well, there’s television, television and television … and, of course, there’s the couch involved with that. It sounds lazy, but being lazy never bothered me.”
Then he added the practical side of that time off. “At my age, that’s when you heal. I’m a golfer, not an NBA player,” he assured.
However, he pointed out that golf requires hard work when required. During the tour year, he heads to the practice tee and putting green to take practice swing after practice swing thousands upon thousands of times each week. That’s how you groove your game — find something that works, and then do it repeatedly until it is ingrained into your muscles and your brain.
In golf, maybe more so than most sports, the mental is more important than the physical.
In this year’s Allianz field, who does Goydos fear the most as he defends his title.
“That’s easy,” Goydos said, taking the light approach as he usually does. “I fear myself the most.”
Not a bad idea.
It might be best to fear yourself, someone you can control, rather than be thinking about some of the eight Hall of Famers — Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Curtis Strange — competing in this tournament.
Describing the aftermath of his win a year ago, Goydos said: “There’s no resting on laurels. No big celebration. The joy of winning ends on No. 18, and you just say to yourself, ‘Let’s see if you can do it again.’ ”
And that’s exactly what Goydos will try to do starting Friday.
2016 ALLIANZ CHAMPIONSHIP
When: Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (starting an hour earlier than normal to allow fans to get home in time for the Super Bowl).
Course: Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, par 36-36-72 and 6,807 yards.
Purse: $1,750,000, with $262,500 going to the winner.
Television: Friday — Golf Channel, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., live; Saturday — Golf Channel – 5-7 p.m., tape delay; Sunday – Golf Channel, 3-5 p.m., tape delay.
Champions for the past five years: Paul Goydos, 2015; Michael Allen, 2014; Rocco Mediate, 2013; Corey Pavin, 2012; and Tom Lehman 2011.
Field, format: 81 professionals, all of whom have to be 50 years of age or over. There is no cut. The event is the first full-field PGA Tour Champions event of the year.
Event history: One of the Tour Champions most stable tournaments — Allianz has sponsored it for 16 years and this will be its 10th year at Broken Sound.