October 30 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Steve Stricker cut back his schedule and played some of the best golf of his career, finishing with eight top 10s, including four runner-up finishes, in just 13 starts.
Adam Scott has played less around the world the last two years and in April won his first career major before finishing with his first multiple win season on the PGA TOUR in nearly a decade.
Last week, Phil Mickelson talked about altering his schedule in advance of next year's U.S. Open -- the only major he has yet to win.
Ian Poulter, however, said he doesn't plan to change his schedule despite their success. The difference of course is that Poulter balances membership on the PGA TOUR and European Tour.
"I just have to be very careful with my schedule," Poulter said from this week's World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China, where he is the defending champion. "It's just about being clever with the schedule to make sure you're not doing too many trips across the pond and that you can stay as fresh as possible."
That can be easier said than done, though.
To maintain a PGA TOUR card, players must make 15 starts. On the European Tour, that number dips to 13. This week's event counts toward both.
This year is also of the first of the PGA TOUR's wrap-around schedule with last season ending just two weeks prior to the start of a new season -- with The Presidents Cup sandwiched in between.
Next year is a Ryder Cup year, and the FedExCup Playoffs will be played over four straight weeks rather than having a week off in the middle.
"It's a busy year, and it's obviously difficult to fit in as many tournaments as you'd like or people would like you to play year‑in, year‑out," Poulter said. "We've seen a number of people that have shortened their calendar this year, and they have done exceptionally well.
"The guys that are playing both sides of the bond have a commitment to make to uphold their cards, and it's difficult."
Poulter has 16 career wins around the world, but only one of them has come in the U.S.
So what's the solution?
There isn't an easy one when it comes to maintaining membership on two tours.
"I feel sometimes we are pressured in some way to play golf as much as we are," Poulter said. "And we have to be very, very careful with our schedule to make sure that we have a fine balance of a good home life and a good business balance to be able to make sure we're playing the best golf we possibly can."