Newcomer Faxon showing little need for direction

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Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Brad Faxon should be one of the best on the greens this week at the Toshiba Classic.
March 15, 2012
John Reger, Special to PGATOUR.COM

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- It was ironic that Brad Faxon, one of the best putters in the history of golf, was getting a tip about the greens from one of his amateur partners before the start of the Toshiba Classic, which begins Friday.

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"Just the amateurs at lunch told me everything breaks to the 17th green," Faxon said. "That's all I know."

It's not surprising that the second-year Champions Tour player is soliciting advice from amateurs, since he is making his first appearance at Newport Beach Country Club.

"I heard it was a good driving course," Faxon said. "I don't know if that means driving the fairways are tight or trees everywhere or out of bounds everywhere. It looks like it's in good shape, the little bit I've seen."

When Faxon was a regular member of the PGA TOUR and unfamiliar with an event, he would seek out players that had experience at the venue.

"When we go out and play a course for the first time on the PGA TOUR, you are with two or three other guys," Faxon said. "I always made it a point to play with guys that played the course before. You are talking about what's the strategy of the hole, what would you do here?"

At Toshiba, Faxon's first round at the course was during the pro-am and he was more concerned about his daughter's arrival this weekend.

"I'm seeing these courses for the first time, so I don't know where tee locations might be, or where hole locations might be," Faxon said. "So that's a little bit different."

Though Faxon has only played in 10 Champions Tour events, he is showing he doesn't need a lot of direction. Faxon made his debut last August at the 3M Championship and five events later he won the rain-shortened Insperity Championship, shooting 10 under for two rounds and winning by a stroke.

"I think the low scoring of the winning scores is impressive," Faxon said. "I don't know that I was thinking that it wouldn't be as low here versus the PGA TOUR. But guys get some sort of freedom here. There is something that goes on in your brain, whether it's no cut, nothing to lose, only three rounds, not four, no pressure."

Like many of the players just over 50, Faxon was hoping to split his time between the Champions Tour and the PGA TOUR. But after making just one cut in 12 events last year, he focused more on the senior circuit.

"I love guys that are still playing great, are still trying to go on the other TOUR," Faxon said. "I think that's great about the game. If the age of the Champions Tour was 55 instead of 50, guys would still make a hell of a career on the regular TOUR. I think guys can do it."

Golfers such as Fred Couples and Tom Lehman are regulars on both tours and Faxon, a former PGA TOUR policy board member, believes it helps the Champions Tour.

"This Tour needs the players to stay out here, it really does," Faxon said. "It's hard to have status on both tours, you know. But I would love to have the ability, say, like Freddie Couples, and say, 'I would love to go play Riviera because I like that course,' or 'Hilton Head because I like that course', and I don't have that."

Even though Faxon won't be splitting time on both tours, he has learned to embrace the Champions Tour.

"I like the relaxed part of it," Faxon said. "And when you're playing the last few holes, and you got a chance to win, it's not like, hey. You know a guy is still trying to win a tournament. Guys have had second lives out here."

In the three events Faxon has played this year, he has had two top 20 finishes and Nick Price believes there won't be a sophomore jinx.

"I think when you look at Brad, Brad has always been one of those players that his short game is phenomenal," Price said. "He has always been a great putter, a great chipper and a great bunker player. When his long game is solid, that's when he plays well. So if his long game is a little loose, he will finish in the 20's or Top-10 or whatever. But when he starts hitting the ball solidly, that's when his putting and short game really comes to the fore. I think Brad is going to have a similar sort of career that he had on the regular TOUR, when he plays well, he's going to win."

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