- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Perhaps it’s fitting a tournament called the Booz Allen Classic is suffering from golf’s version of a hangover.

Playing host to a PGA Tour event the week after a major championship is always a challenging proposition. When that major happens to have been one of the most mentally and emotionally taxing U.S. Opens in recent years, the golf world barely has the energy for an encore.

“You focus so much on preparing for these four [majors] that it’s hard to get excited about playing the next week,” Spain’s Sergio Garcia said at Shinnecock Hills.

So rather than show up at TPC at Avenel with an indifferent attitude, Garcia is taking off this week. And he’s hardly alone. Most of golf’s glitterati are in recovery mode, leaving the Booz Allen with a field that includes only two of the world’s top-30 players (No. 15 Adam Scott and No. 26 Jonathan Kaye). Only one field on tour this season has featured fewer stars (Tucson Chrysler Classic), and that event was held opposite the World Match Play Championship (Feb. 25-29).

Even some of the players in attendance this week are admittedly somewhat fried after last week’s war of attrition at Shinnecock Hills.

“Yeah, I’m still a little tired, but that’s why I’m taking it easy,” said Tim Herron, who finished tied for 13th at the Open (8 over). “I took off yesterday, and I won’t play today. I’ll hit a few balls just to stay loose, and I should be all ready to go by Thursday.”

Booz Allen officials hope local fans have recovered their golf appetites by tomorrow’s opening round, as well. With the masses perhaps sated by last week’s blanket coverage of the season’s second Slam, Avenel was virtually gallery-free yesterday. Players definitely outnumbered paying patrons.

“It’s definitely quiet after last week,” said South Africa’s Tim Clark, who like Herron finished T13 at the Open. “But I think we all readjust pretty quickly. Obviously last week was tough, but I feel reasonably rested and recovered. Honestly, most guys out here are used to bouncing back pretty quickly. Frankly, this course should be refreshing after Shinnecock because we’ll be able to attack pins again.”

Clark wasn’t the only Shinnecock survivor to voice that opinion yesterday. Lee Janzen, who won this event in 1995 when it was still known as the Kemper Open, began to find his form last week in Southampton and couldn’t wait to get to Avenel.

“I’m looking forward to hitting a wedge that lands on a green and stays there,” said Janzen, poking fun at the USGA for losing control of the greens last week. “Seriously, I feel like I’m really close to playing well, so I want to get back out there on a course I’ve had success on in the past.

“Sometimes after a major you don’t notice how tired you are until later in the week, so you plan accordingly. For instance, Augusta’s a hard course to walk, so sometimes I’ll take off the Monday and Tuesday of Hilton Head. And after I won at Olympic [1998 U.S. Open], I didn’t touch a club until the following Monday’s pro-am. I think you’re always more fatigued after contending. I slept great at Shinnecock because I wasn’t really close to the lead. If you’re in one of those last couple groups, you don’t sleep so well, and that zaps you.”

Maryland native Fred Funk was in the Open’s penultimate group, eventually finishing sixth (5 over). And accordingly, the 47-year-old Funk took the equivalent of an off-day yesterday, playing in a charity benefit at a local club rather than returning to the tour grind at Avenel. One of the event’s top names, the former Maryland golf coach will make his first appearance on the property for today’s pro-am, hoping to build upon last week’s success and last year’s career-best finish at Avenel (T2).

Perhaps the only folks enjoying the Open’s hangover effect are those members of the Booz Allen field who weren’t at Shinnecock.

“I didn’t watch more than a half-dozen shots last week, but I heard the course was brutal,” said Glen Day, who will be making his fifth start at Avenel this week. “Maybe if you’re fresh and didn’t have to fight it last week, you’ve got an advantage. Hey, I’ll take it any way I can get it.”

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