Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When it comes to majors, 2009 proves to be dramatic year

CHASKA, Minn. Storylines abound from the exciting finish of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club on Sunday.
There is no question that Y.E. Yang’s victory, the first major golf championship won by an Asian-born man, is the most historical accomplishment of this season or any other in a while.
The South Korean chased down Tiger Woods, the most dominant player in modern golf. It was the first time in 15 tries that Woods had led a major after 54 holes and lost.
Yang was emotional in victory. He cried when the subject was raised about his victory being the first of its kind by an Asian-born player.
I stood 3 feet from him in the Hazeltine clubhouse during the champagne toast to the champion. It was clear that he realized the magnitude of his victory and what it might mean in Korea.
Maybe John Kim of Turner Sports said it best.
“Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998. Look at the impact that had on the number of Korean players on the LPGA Tour today. People thought that Tiger Woods winning a major would do the same for the PGA Tour, yet he is still the only African-American on the Tour.”
Yang’s viewpoint of what his win might mean was this:
“I hope this win would be, if not as significant, something quite parallel to an impact both to golf in Korea as well as golf in Asia so that all young golfers, across Asia, would build their dreams and expand their horizons.”
Interestingly, when informed through his interpreter that he was the first man in golf to take down Woods when leading a major after 54 holes, Yang stood emotionless. No reaction.
“I saw a lot of players fold when they would play with him, so I would watch on TV and come up with a mock strategy on how to win,” Yang said. “When my chance came, I thought that I could always play a good round of golf, and Tiger, who is great, could always have a bad day.”
A couple of things come to mind. Does Yang’s inability to communicate well in English place him in a vacuum when competing on a stage such as Sunday’s at Hazeltine? Are the galleries, which were openly partial to Woods, a non-factor to someone who understands little English?
An official with the Yang-Woods group indicated that someone in the gallery projected a loud cough in the middle of Yang’s backswing on his second shot into hole No. 18. Yang’s mental discipline didn’t allow it to be a distraction.
And what about Woods? Is he now exposed? Is there a crack in the armor?
This is the first calendar year since 2004 that he has failed to win a major. Despite missing the cut in the British Open, he finished tied for sixth in the Masters and U.S. Open before Sunday’s runner-up finish in the PGA. Not a bad year, but even Woods proved that he can be human when being the pursuer.
Interestingly enough, Hazeltine will be gassing its greens and redoing the putting surfaces this summer as it prepares for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
The greens are overrun with poa annua, an annual bluegrass that produces an irregular putting surface. As I stood on the 18th green for Sunday’s awards presentation, I could not help but notice the high concentration of poa annua in the greens.
Woods had difficulty making putts Sunday. Many players experienced the same problem all week. Steve Hulka caddies for English-man Brian Davis, and he told me, “You could read the putt, hit it perfectly, and the ball would do something different.”
Despite the putting surfaces, Woods hit uncharacteristic shots into the 15th, 16th and 18th greens, leaving him with no real good birdie opportunities. He hit a great shot at the flag on the 17th, but it landed over the green.
For the first time ever, Woods looked mortal. He was trailing Yang, and he was now the one who looked to be forcing things.
It was strange to see Woods out of control.
I was positioned a few feet off the back of the 18th green when Yang hit his second shot. He had to carry the ball out of the rough and over some large trees to a flag 204 yards away. Yang used a hybrid club, and as soon as the ball landed on the green, you knew it was one of golf’s great shots.
This year has produced arguably the most exciting collection of major championships to date — the three-way playoff at the Masters; the rain and Lucas Glover outlasting Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open; and then Tom Watson falling just shy of being the oldest player to ever win a major at the British Open. Yang outdueling Woods at the PGA was a fitting finale to 2009.
For the 37-year-old Yang, the impact of his victory will resonate on the other side of our world. At the same time, he once again proved why nothing is a sure bet in sports.
And for Woods? Now that he has lost a few, he will be revered more than ever by America’s golfing public. We embrace our heroes. We hurry to tear them down and then rush to their side when they prove their vulnerability.
All in all, it has been one of golf’s best 12-month runs dating back to the U.S. victory at the Ryder Cup in September. It will be difficult to top 2009.

Photo Caption: CHASKA, Minn.
Storylines abound from the exciting finish of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club on Sunday.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Award winner great start to tournament

The PGA Championship has been labeled as "Glory's Last Shot" because it is the final major championship of the season.
Legacies, Ryder Cup spots and many other things are at stake. It is the proudest moment of the year for the PGA's 28,000 members and apprentices.
The PGA Distinguished Service Award ceremony takes place each Wednesday evening of championship week. Inaugurated in 1988, the award honors individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.
Previous award winners include Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Patty Berg, George H.W. Bush and Jack Nicklaus, to name a few.
William Powell was presented with the 2009 PGA Distinguished Service Award, and this has been the highlight of the championship week for me. Unless the 2009 champion holes his second shot on the 72nd hole for a one-stroke victory, Powell probably will leave the longest lasting impression on many who attend the 91st PGA Championship.
Powell is a 92-year-old black man, and his story in golf is worth telling. He grew up in Minerva, Ohio, near Akron. He discovered a love of golf at age 9 by playing and caddying at Edgewater Golf Course. As his own game developed, Powell became a multisport athlete at Minerva High School.
He led his football team to an undefeated season, outscoring opponents by a 332-0 margin. Powell and his friends formed a high school golf team, and Bill was asked by his athletics director to serve as captain and coach. Powell even scheduled his team's matches.
Some of the most profound advice Powell received as a youngster came at age 12, when during a fire drill his principal randomly said, "Billy, you know you are a little colored boy, and you have to realize that you can't do things just as good as a white boy. You have to do them better."
He applied that wisdom to his life after high school. He attended Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio, where in 1937 the school's golf team traveled to face Northern Ohio University in the first interracial collegiate golf match in U.S. history.
Powell met Marcella Oliver, the love of his life, in 1939, and the couple married a year later. In 1942, he began a four-year stint in the U.S. Army and reached the rank of technical sergeant. While stationed in England and Scotland, Powell enjoyed the opportunity to play some of the world's finest courses, something he would be denied upon returning to the United States.
When he came home, most clubhouse doors were not open to him. Powell then decided it was up to him to create a pathway to the course on his own. In September 1946, having been denied a G.I. loan by banks that claimed ignorance of the program, Powell received the financial backing of two black physicians and began building a public golf course, which he named Clearview.
He was able to open nine holes in 1948. Powell built the course by hand. He walk-seeded every acre of the course. He converted a Model A car into a tractor to help mow fairways. Hunters would use Clearview for target practice while Powell cleared the land. As late as 1999, a shooter left a hole in a water container on the front nine. Passing motorists periodically still yell racial slurs as golfers play the course.
For 23 years, Powell worked 18 hours a day as a security guard and golf course operator. In 1978, he expanded Clearview into an 18-hole golf course. Marcella loyally worked by his side until she died a few years ago. His son, Larry, is a 36-year member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association and serves Clearview in that capacity.
Today, Clearview is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and "America's course," as Powell once said, "is a course where the only color that matters is the color of the greens."
Powell's pioneering efforts have been carried on by his daughter, Renee, who was the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf and a PGA/LPGA professional. She was the second black woman to compete on the LPGA Tour, following tennis great Althea Gibson.
"It was his will to not allow things to hold him down," Renee said of her father. "If you continue to always ponder on the negative, you can never get anything positive done."
In 1996, Bill Powell was inducted into the National Black Hall of Fame; and in 1997, he was presented honorary PGA membership by the Northern Ohio PGA Section.
In 1999, his PGA membership was made retroactive to Jan. 1, 1962, by the PGA of America, thus making Powell a long overdue PGA life member. He had been excluded as a member because of the PGA's whites-only membership clause that existed before 1961.
Powell was honored Wednesday night by the PGA in front of a packed house in a downtown Minneapolis auditorium.
Big names in attendance were led by NFL greats Franco Harris, Alan Page and Carl Eller. Tubby Smith, University of Minnesota basketball coach, also was on hand. Letters of recognition were presented from several, including President Barack Obama.
Powell was helped to the stage, where he read a compelling account of his life story to a silent, spellbound and emotionally charged crowd. Powell's own account of his life and the obstacles that he faced might rate as one of his finest accomplishments. That is saying a lot given the magnitude of this man's life.
After the ceremony concluded, I had the opportunity to congratulate Powell and shake his hand. I couldn't help but notice the softness of his skin. Most golf pros have callused hands, but the softness of Powell's hands matched that of his heart.
Here was a proud man with a gentle smile who overcame so much. He is a man whose family dedicated their lives to his dream and yet left their own separate marks on golf. For Bill Powell there is no bitterness. No hard feelings; just appreciation on his part for the opportunity to fulfill his dreams.
Powell is indeed a special man and the first champion of the 2009 PGA Championship.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beem ready to face longer course than in 2002 PGA

Hazeltine National Golf Club is a storied venue for major championships.
Before this week's PGA Championship, the club has hosted six major championships. The most recent was the 2002 PGA Championship, won by Rich Beem. It also will serve as host to the 2016 Ryder Cup.
I had the pleasure of sitting with Beem at Tuesday night's past champions dinner. In 2002, he had a five-shot lead with four holes to play and held off a hard-charging Tiger Woods, who finished with four straight birdies.
"It was crazy," Beem said. "I was up by four with five to go, and Tiger went crazy down the stretch with those four birdies. I was able to bogey number 18 and win by a shot."
Beem is typical in some ways of recent major championship winners like Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton and Mark Brooks, who leave their legacy as winners of golf's most prestigious prizes, rather than like Bob Mays and Chris DiMarco, who had near misses in majors.
Beem is an interesting character. He grew up near Las Cruces, N.M., and attended New Mexico State University on a golf scholarship. According to Beem, he really wasn't recruited by anybody else, and the local university was his best choice.
His father was a pharmacist who decided to make a career change and become a PGA professional.
"That probably was not a smart move," Beem said with a laugh. "But he loved golf, and he is now a life member of the PGA. My dad influenced my career more than anyone."
When asked to compare the Hazeltine of 2009 to that of the venue where he won in 2002, the answer was pretty simple.
"It's about 400 yards longer," Beem said, "and I am seven years older."
Much already has been written about Hazeltine's length for this championship. There are four par-5 holes which average 613 yards in length. This tournament features the longest par-5 in the history of the PGA Championship, No. 15, which is 642 yards long.
If that is not enough, throw in No. 13, a 248-yard par-3 and the longest of its kind in PGA Championship history. Sand-wiched in between is No. 14, a 352-yard par-4 that can be adjusted to see its green driven with a forward tee placement.
Kerry Haigh, director of championships for the PGA of America, has many tricks available this week.
The weather forecast is for temperatures in the low 90s by week's end, with winds in excess of 20 mph. Conditions should get hard and fast, which will minimize the 7,674 yards ahead of the best field in golf.
To date, 98 of the top 100 players in the world are competing at Hazeltine. Only Trevor Immelman and Robert Karlsson will miss due to injury.
Practice round crowds have been fantastic, with more than 25,000 in attendance each of the first two days. Minneapolis traditionally has been one of golf's strongest markets, and expectations are high for record weekend crowds.
Studies have shown that 27 percent of the households in the Twin Cities metro area have a golf presence. That is a phenomenal number.
The official hotel of the PGA of America is the Sofitel, about 30 minutes from the golf course. Many of the players are staying there.
Private housing is another option during the week of a major. Beem said, "I usually stay at a hotel for the affordability, but this week was an exception."
One of Beem's perks for winning the 2002 PGA was receiving a lifetime membership presented to him by the members of Hazeltine in 2003. His relationship with the club has grown, and it now includes an annual interclub match between the El Paso Country Club, Beem's home club in Texas, and Hazeltine, his new club.
"That has been a blast," he said. "I hand-picked my team from El Paso, so I didn't bring any guys from El Paso that would embarrass me."
Beem shot 10-under par when he won at Hazeltine in 2002. When asked for a prediction on this year's winning score, he replied, "I think it will be in the same ballpark. Things will dry out here, and guys will still post some scores even with the length of the course. The rough is gnarly in spots but manageable in others."
Beem is paired in rounds 1 and 2 with Padraig Harrington, the defending champion, and Tiger Woods. At the champions dinner, he offered his two challengers a warning.
"I want you guys to know that I have a lot of friends here now," he said. "The crowd will be really pulling for me. I hope it doesn't distract you."
Privately, Beem confided to me, "I would much rather be playing with Tiger than in front of him."
So, let the games begin.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tiger talks of recovery, behavior, Olympics

"This is the best field we play against. It's the deepest field that we have. You beat this field, and you have beaten the best in all of golf."
Those words were spoken by Tiger Woods during a news conference Tuesday at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.
Woods always is the center of attention at any PGA Tour event, most certainly at any of the four major championships. He comes to Hazeltine with back-to-back victories and is the favorite to win his 15th major championship.
With last week's win at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Woods earned his 70th professional title and trails only Sam Snead (82) and Kathy Whitworth (88) in the total wins column.
His performance in the three majors this year has been less than what we have come to expect from Tiger. Last month, he even missed his second career cut in a major championship at the British Open. Has he been relaxed in the majors this year?
"I wasn't at The Masters. I had been gone for a long time," Woods said. "As the summer has gone by,
I have gotten more and more comfortable.
"Early in the year, I didn't want to hurt my knee. I tried to let it heal properly and rely on other parts of my game, like my chipping and putting. Recently, I have practiced better because I haven't had to worry about the knee.
"A year ago in August, I was on crutches, and no one could ever imagine me having a year like this. I don't think anybody thought that I could win this many events this year," said Woods, a five-time winner in 2009.
Woods was free with opinions on other subjects.
When asked about the possibility of golf in the 2016 Olympics, he said, "Golf is truly a global sport. It would be great for golf. If I am not retired, I might play."
Regarding his well-noted on-course behavior, specifically swearing and club pounding, he said, "It is what it is. I don't mean to. I am trying to get better. It happens from time to time. I just have to keep working on it."
His fist-pumps and high-fives are legendary. Of them he said: "I do get excited and my emotions do come out. You don't plan it. It happens in the heat of the moment. It's high density and, yeah, I get excited."
"I didn't realize how stupid it looks. When I watched the replay of the putt I holed against Rocco (Mediate) to get in the playoff at the (U.S.) Open, I felt pretty stupid," Woods said with a grin.
He also weighed in on Hazeltine and its record length, 7,647 yards.
"It's a pretty long course," Woods said. "I roasted a driver on number 12 (a 518-yard par-4) and then hit a full three-iron."
Woods will take today off because he has played three straight weeks. He cited his rigorous training regime as key during stretches like this.
When asked who was a better player, the dominant Tiger Woods of 2000 or today's Tiger, the response was immediate.
"I like me now," he said. "I know how to manage my game around the golf course better than I did nine years ago. Those years of experience have helped me to understand how to play the game better. I will probably say the same thing nine years from now."
This is a busy week for me. My official PGA duties are nonstop from dawn to dark.
Monday night I attended a surprise birthday party hosted by Corey Pavin, 2010 Ryder Cup captain, for his wife, Lisa. In attendance were Jim Nantz of CBS and tour players Zach Johnson, Paul Goydos, Cameron Beckman, Ben Crane and Pat Perez.
Tuesday night was the Past Champions Dinner hosted by Padraig Harrington, defending PGA Champion. The menu was Irish stew and salmon, with Irish whiskey as dessert. This is always a highlight of the week.
We have a dinner Thursday night hosted by CBS, our media partner, which features all of the network's talent and the PGA officers.
Saturday afternoon, I will announce the final five groups to tee off of on hole No. 1. This will be aired on CBS. Sunday, I will be on the 18th green for the Wanamaker Trophy presentation.
It should be a memorable week, and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Golfer, family mending emotionally, starting to ease way back into game

About 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the night after the Beth Smith Memorial Golf Tournament, I wanted to give Chris Smith a call to let him know what the preliminary numbers looked like for the fundraiser that we conducted at The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin.
A few minutes after leaving a voice mail on his cell phone, I got a call back from Chris.
"Sorry I missed your call. I just finished my fifth load of laundry, and I was upstairs in Abigail's room when the phone rang. I still have a lot more laundry to do," he said with a laugh.
Two months ago, Chris Smith would not have figured he would be at home doing laundry on a Saturday night in early August. Chris' wife, Beth, tragically lost her life in a Father's Day auto accident, and their children, Abigail and Cameron, were critically injured.
The primary purpose of Friday's golf tournament was to raise money and help the Smith family resume some semblance of a normal life.
Smith has been forced to set his career as a professional golfer aside. He now is a single parent without a job raising two kids who have a long recovery ahead.
Preliminary indications are that the first Beth Smith Memorial Tournament raised about $150,000 for Smith and his kids. The success of this event can be attributed to the 288 players who participated and the efforts of many around the United States.
"There is no way I can express how I feel. This whole thing has been remarkable. It's been incredible and extraordinary," Chris Smith said. "The support from so many people here in Indiana and from around the country has been overwhelming.
"Just to get back out on the golf course and laugh, to resume some type of normalcy in our lives, was what (Friday) meant to Abigail, Cameron and myself," Smith added. "Driving golf carts and seeing so many people. I tried to say it Friday night, but the support of the entire golf community has been unbelievable. I wish there was some way to thank every single person who was involved."
Smith started playing professionally at the tour level in 1995. Since that time, he has had full-time status on the PGA Tour nine times. Smith won the Buick Classic in 2002 at the Westchester Country Club in New York. The past two years he has played on the Nationwide Tour after seeing his status on the PGA Tour be conditional.
"The past couple of years, I have felt like I was in golf's no man's land," he said. "I had made a lot of friends on the PGA Tour, and that is what I thought I would always be doing. All of a sudden, I am playing on the Nationwide Tour with a lot of younger kids and foreign players who I really don't know.
"My friends were on the PGA Tour. I lost touch with a lot of them, and sometimes I felt like I was a forgotten person. Then (Beth's accident) happens, and you find out how many friends you really have. Everybody has reached out, and it's been unbelievable.
"The letters and handwritten notes that I have received are what has gotten me through this. About a week after the accident, Tom Watson sent me a full-page handwritten letter. We had worked some clinics together, but I never expected that kind of support from people like Tom."
Smith has not watched golf since June 21.
"I have not watched golf one time," he said. "I have pulled up some scores on the Internet to see how some of my friends are playing. Positively, that will change this week with the PGA Championship. The PGA and the British Open are my two favorite tournaments, and I love Hazeltine Golf Club.
"The PGA Championship always has the strongest field. It is the best course setup we play all year. The tournament is always at great venues, and the PGA runs the best events in professional golf. The players and their families really love the PGA Championship."
I could feel the spark in Chris' voice as he talked about golf. Asked when he might start playing again? At least, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
"The kids want me to play again. I definitely want to, but there is no way that will happen before next summer," Smith predicted.
"Abigail and Cameron face obstacles physically and emotionally. I need to be here. If they have a good school year, then the three of us will load up and I will play in three to five tournaments next summer and see how it goes. Hopefully, I will play a lot in 2011 before Abigail goes to college."
When he does head back out, Smith will be granted a full-time medical exemption from the Nationwide Tour and will have conditional status on the PGA Tour as a former winner and veteran player.
Once the kids start back to school, Smith plans to spend at least an hour a day working on his game.
"That's my goal," he said. "Hitting balls and practicing frees up my mind. I look forward to playing in the Wednesday men's club (at Rock Hollow Golf Course in Peru, Ind.). It will be good to get back on the course."
The Smith kids are a chip off the old block when it comes to golf.
"The three of us actually went out on the course (Saturday night). Abigail drove the cart right up next to the green so Cameron could chip and putt," Smith said.
Friday's event was the first Beth Smith Memorial Tournament. What does that mean for next year?
"I would like to see this thing keep going," Chris Smith said. "Now that we are back on our feet as a family, I would like to help some people that helped us. The children's burn unit at the hospital was great, and that would be one example.
"(Tour player) Jay Delsing left me a message during the tournament on Friday, and he said, 'You have to do that again next year.' He wants to be here, and I think some of the Tour players would be happy to help out."
Another week lies ahead for Chris, Abigail and Cameron. Maybe this one will offer a few more opportunities to laugh.
It sounds like golf will be easing its way back into their lives. And while things will never be normal in the true sense of the word for this family, there has to be some strength gained over the past few weeks knowing that the entire golf community was there to help.
And help it did, in more ways than you can imagine.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for the PGA of America.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First 'real hit' hooks Colts player on golf

Melvin Bullitt came to the Indianapolis Colts two years ago as an undrafted free agent from Texas A&M.
In 2008, his second NFL season, he started 12 games and led the team in interceptions, including three game-saving picks in the final seconds to seal Colts victories. He also has been a stalwart on special teams.
Before the Indiana PGA's Play Golf America Day on May 29, Bullitt had been to a golf course only once. On his trip to The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin, he had no expectations of becoming a golfer.
"The Colts asked me to come, so I did. I wasn't really interested in golf until I had the experience of a real hit that day," Bullitt said.
That real hit - an ironic phrase from one of the Colts' hardest hitters - was the hook that was going to change his summer. After two hours of instruction on that day in May, he was bitten by the golf bug.
"I am real athletic, and I didn't respect the athleticism that goes into golf," Bullitt said.
Over the next three weeks, Bullitt and I got together for several golf lessons. During this time, he bought stylish new golf clothes and started using a new set of clubs. He became an avid viewer of the Golf Channel. It was apparent that he was becoming a student of the game.
It was not uncommon for me to get a text from Bullitt regarding the PGA Tour event that was being played or some other programming that was being aired on the Golf Channel. Once, he even let me know that he was watching Michele Wie in an LPGA tournament.
This might sound like strange behavior to the non-golfer, but for those of us who know the sport, this was the evolution of a golfer.
Bullitt will tell you that football and golf have some things in
"In some ways they are really similar. You have to be patient because everything doesn't go your way," he said. "You can't overdo it. You don't force it.
"When I started hitting golf balls, I thought it was all about the arms. I learned that I wasn't utilizing all of my power and that I needed to use my hips and legs. It is like making a tackle; even though you use your arms, the power is in the legs."
Bullitt continued to work hard. He hit a lot of balls. When he played, the scores were high.
"The first time I played this summer, I shot 81 for nine holes. Making consistent contact with the ball was hard," he said with a laugh. "But the more I worked on it, I hit it every time. I started to get precise and began to figure things out like how to open or close the club face to control my distance."
As the summer rolled by, it was time for Bullitt to head to his hometown of Dallas. It was there that he continued his golf with Ronny Glanton, PGA professional at Sherrill Park Golf Course.
"He is very motivated and a great listener," Glanton said of Bullitt. "He is highly competitive and expects to get better.
"Most importantly, Melvin is an unbelievable person. What he does with his local football program is amazing. He donates his time, teaching drills and techniques to kids. He just gives back. His dad instilled a lot of moral character in him. Melvin is a class act."
Bullitt started getting better on the course. His low score to date is 47 for nine holes. He lists his first-ever birdie as his biggest thrill.
"It was Hole 9 at Woodbridge Golf Club in Wylie, Texas. It is a par 4, and we played from the blue tees, about 450 yards, and I made a 20-yard putt."
Spoken like a true football player - yards, not feet.
Bullitt will be the first to tell you that his time with the PGA professionals was valuable.
"Patience is the key to golf, and they taught me that," he said. "The other thing that I learned is that you have to be well-conditioned to play golf. My swing changes after 11 or 12 holes when I get physically tired.
"I have a hard time maintaining my concentration. Golf is helping me learn to focus. I think the things that I have learned from golf in regard to focusing will help me study my playbook better.
"Getting ready to hit a shot in golf is like preparing for the next play in football. I should be better with my concentration."
Like all golf fans, Bullitt has a favorite player.
"Of course, it's Tiger," he said. "But there's a new cat out there. They call him Spider-man. He's ripped. I don't know much about him yet, but I like watching him."
He was speaking of Camilo Villegas.
What does Bullitt expect long term from golf?
"This sounds crazy, but eventually seven or eight years from now, when I am done playing, I want to be a full-time pro. It will be my number one sport," Bullitt said.
"I would encourage all kids to give it a shot. I promise you, golf is something you will enjoy. Many minority kids need the opportunity to experience golf. You never know what might happen to a kid who gets a chance to play golf."
This weekend Bullitt joins his Colts teammates at training camp. He will be hanging up the clubs and shifting his attention to his current No. 1 game, football.
"I am excited for the season to start. We control our own destiny. We have a lot of talent, and I am really looking forward to playing for coach (Jim) Caldwell," he said. "There is going to be a lot of moving around on defense and a new special-teams coach. I'm ready."
Bullitt again will be listed behind All-Pro safety Bob Sanders on the Colts' depth chart.
"He is still my mentor," Bullitt said. "Bob and Antoine (Bethea) are the best safeties in the league. I just have to be ready to play. I know I will get my chances."
And the golf clubs?
"Yep, the golf clubs get put away until early February when we hopefully finish our business. As soon as we take care of that, I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a round of golf," Bullitt said.
Bullitt wears No. 33 on the field. Want to make a bet when he shoots his number on the golf course? It's not if, just a matter of when.
Ted Bishop is director of golf for The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin and secretary for PGA of America.