March 20 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Deciding when and where to play isn't always as easy as it seems.
"I've never played the Memorial tournament," Graeme McDowell said. "Am I disrespecting Jack Nicklaus? The guy is one of my golfing idols and heroes.
"I'm embarrassed that I've never played the tournament. It's just it's always the week after Wentworth. I've had a relationship with the Wales Open for several years. It's always been opposite that week and just never fit my schedule."
This week's Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard didn't fit Rory McIlroy's, either.
McIlroy thought about adding Bay Hill to his schedule after withdrawing midway through his second round of The Honda Classic. But he found his swing a week later at Doral, where he shot a final-round 65 to tie for eighth.
Still, even Arnold Palmer seemed a little surprised McIlroy didn't enter -- he joked earlier this year that he'd break McIlroy's arm if he didn't play.
Not that Palmer is worried about it. He, like McDowelll, understands the difficulty players face when putting together a schedule.
"I was kind of kidding when somebody said is he playing?" Palmer said. "It was meant in jest.
"Frankly, though, I thought he was going to play, and I was as surprised as a lot of people when he decided he was not going to play."
McDowell said he feels for McIlroy.
"Is he disrespecting Arnold by not being here? I don't think he is disrespecting him," McDowell said. "It's Arnold's tournament and he's an icon of our sport. But we all know what schedules are all about -- guys preparing for major championships, the demand on players' time."
McDowell said he faces the same difficult choice every year with the Tampa Bay Championship.
"There is something about that golf course that feels like it would be right for me, but yet I've never played it," he said.
"It's a 50-50 one. The guys want to be here, and the want to respect the golf legends and traditions of the sport but it's hard to play every week."
Not that this event was a difficult one to schedule for McDowell. He lives in the area, just opened a new pub across town, and he finished second here a year ago.