By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Yes, Jeff Maggert said, there is a plan for the future.
“My game has gotten a lot better the last year-and-a-half,” Maggert said. “I had shoulder surgery and I’m just feeling really healthy right now."
“So I would like to stay out here (on the PGA TOUR) and play a few more years if I can. Obviously, if I can finish in the top 125 on the Money List, that’s kind of a bonus. If I can keep my TOUR card out here and then maybe play a little bit on the Champions Tour as well, that would be a good plan.
“I’m getting really close (to the Champions Tour).”
Maggert will be eligible to compete on the Champions Tour when he turns 50 next February. Until his recent good form, he seemed destined to go straight to the Champions Tour. Now, that’s not such a certainty, at least in his mind.
Maggert is enjoying a comeback season on the PGA TOUR. He finished T2 at THE PLAYERS Championship last week where he was in contention for 70 holes. But the goal wasn’t just to play well. It was to win, and on layout like the Stadium Course against a field the stature of THE PLAYERS, he came close.
“That's why I'm here,” Maggert said at TPC Sawgrass. “That's what I'm saying. It's like we've still got that in our blood.
“It's funny, the older I get, some of the struggles that I've been through, I joke a little bit about that. I'm still very competitive on the inside and want to play well every week, but it's just tough, just trying to keep it together and keep your health in good shape. One week my wrist hurts, the next week my shoulder hurts, so I'm working my way through it.”
In three straight early-season tournaments, Maggert opened with a round in the 60s before falling back. At the Humana Challenge in January, he posted a first-round 64. It was at THE PLAYERS that he finally went the distance. Well, almost anyway. He went 70 holes and produced rounds of 70-71-66-70 for an 11-under 277 total. He earned $709,333.33 and now has won almost $20 million in a career that began in 1986.
More importantly, at No. 54 on the Money List, Maggert is comfortably within reach of the top 125.
Maggert’s career path over the past decade has validated what he has learned over the years.
“When I was in my 30s I never really thought that it would be that difficult to really stay focused and stay competitive in my late 40s,” he said. “I just assumed that it was going to be easy, even though all the guys in front of me said, hey, it's not that easy when you get in your late 40s. They're right.
“It takes more focus now than what I had 10 or 12 years ago because there are so many distractions outside of golf. Family things that I enjoy doing, and when I am at home I just really don't put the effort in that I used to probably 15 or 20 years ago. The hardest hurdle is really motivating myself to get out there and put the time in to really be competitive.”
Maggert admitted that he might have been somewhat surprised by his performance at THE PLAYERS.
“Yes and no,” he said. “I thought I could shoot a good score … I thought I had a 6‑, 7‑ or 8‑under in me on this golf course.
“Ball striking‑wise, I played a lot of tournaments this well on the West Coast, but I couldn't post any good scores. Just putting was holding me back. But the ball-striking has been great all year. Hopefully I can build on this and put some good tournaments together here for the rest of the summer.”
Maggert’s history says he’s capable of it. He is a three-time Ryder Cup player (1995, 1997, 1999) and also represented the United States at the Presidents Cup in 1994. His victories on the PGA TOUR came at the 1993 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic, the 1999 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2006 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
“You're always disappointed (when you don’t win),” Maggert said at THE PLAYERS. “You have a chance to win a big tournament like this. I've been fortunate enough to win three times on the TOUR. I wish I could have had a few more victories. But I've been here before. It wasn't my first rodeo. So I knew what I had to do to have a chance to win.
“I felt like I executed pretty well, and, yeah, just disappointed to come up short. But it's a funny thing about this game. You put it behind you, you go to next week, and you get up on the first tee on Thursday and you start all over. If you're worried about what happened four days prior, then you're not going to last very long out here. You look forward and look to the next shot, the next hole, and the next tournament.”
And beyond, to the next phase of a career. To the Champions Tour.