Seamus Power living, and loving, life on PGA Tour

He might often not know what the date is, or even the month sometimes, but wherever Seamus Power finds himself on the PGA Tour, if it’s Tuesday, then it must be a practice day.

The West Waterford golfer kick-starts his 2018 schedule in Hawaii this week already relishing the opportunity to build on his rookie experiences of last year and looking to improve on his 130th-place finish on the FedEx Cup points list.

He missed out on the play-off series by five spots but as he prepares to tee it up at the Sony Open on Thursday, being back in a familiar groove and revisiting old haunts brings a built-in advantage to his preparations after his journey into the unknown in 2017.

Last season was a slog for the 30-year-old, with 25 tournaments played in 15 different states and excursions to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Canada, where he picked up his first top-10 finish at the Canadian Open.

It meant for little time at his home base of Charlotte, North Carolina let alone back in Waterford and it was little wonder, then, that Power found himself relying on a weekly, tournament-based routine rather than any semblance of time or place.

During a brief trip home to Ireland and a pre-Christmas catch-up with fellow members at West Waterford GC, and before a Christmas on a Florida beach with American girlfriend Tori, Power explained to the Irish Examiner how he feels he will be so much much better for those experiences as he goes around for a second spin on the PGA Tour merry-go-round.

His 2018 campaign is already underway with five starts in October and November that saw him peak with a tie for 18th at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi while three missed cuts failed to dent the 2016 Irish Olympian’s optimism for the calendar year ahead.

“It wasn’t bad. I probably didn’t play as well as I liked in the autumn but I did have a long year and I suppose I was running on fumes towards the end,” Power said.

“I still feel pretty good and I’m looking forward to a second run at all these courses and I’ve got high hopes going into the new year.

“You still have to play well but this time around it’s nice going to tournaments knowing what you can expect. You know the golf course, you’ll know the area and what’s going on. It just makes things easier.

“The summer, in particular, was busy. I played a lot of events and every event is a full week. You travel on a Monday, get up early Tuesday and play practice rounds and then either play in the Pro-am Wednesday or else practice some more and then you start Thursday.

“Sometimes when you finish the tournament you’re scooting off to the airport pretty fast to catch a flight.

“When you have several events in a row it’s hectic. You’re always looking ahead, having to keep track of a lot of stuff and balance quite a few things. But you do get used to it. It’s not something that’s even an issue for guys after a while. It’s part of the job.

“The biggest thing for me is that you have to watch your energy levels.You want to do so much, practice more and stuff but sometimes you just have to sit down and relax and remember you’ve got six or seven tournaments in a row. You’re going to need to feel good in six or seven weeks’ time also so you’ve got to balance everything.” Power lost track of the number of flights he took in 2017, let alone the number of hotel nights away from his own bed in Charlotte.

“I should add it all up but it would be a lot. You spend a lot of time away as a professional golfer. In one stretch I played 15 out of 17 weeks in the middle of the year and it’s not as if you’re home for the weekend or for a few days at a time. It’s 15 full weeks of golf and that can be tough going. It’s kind of funny when you’re in the middle of it. You can lose track of what date or month it is, you just go out and it’s travel day, practice day, and so on. Airports kind of merge into one another.

“That said, I love doing what I’m doing. No matter what job it is, you’re going to have negatives.

“I’m lucky enough to play golf for a living and I go around playing some beautiful golf courses.

“Yes, you’re flying once a week but you’re flying to some beautiful places to play a game that you love. So it’s not really so bad and it’s very hard to for me to complain.” It does sound exhausting but Power is not one for sitting in his room devouring Netflix boxsets if there are places to visit. And good people with which to share those experiences.

Power has a good working relationship with his caddie, the American John Rathouz, who has been on his bag since his breakthrough season on the web.com Tour in 2016 when he earned his card on the big show.

“John’s great. He’s a good guy to spend time with but you spend so much time together during the week, up to eight hours a day, talking and whatnot, so sometimes you need a bit of space and that’s not the worst thing you could do.” Life on tour could be a drudge but Power looks forward to the weeks when Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are in the field.

“When Pádraig and Shane play, it’s usually very good, they’ll always organise a dinner or two, which is very nice and breaks things up.

“I also have plenty of friends, just from playing in college and on the web.com Tour, so there’s plenty of people to have dinner with.

“Some people like to do their own thing but I like having dinner with other people and having a chat and breaking the time up a little bit.

“Most of the guys are good company. The most fun is when you have dinner with the Irish guys, the sense of humour, talking about back home, that’s always great, especially because you’re away so much. That’s always the best.” This week’s Sony Open in Honolulu will also bring fond memories as one of the standout venues for things to do away from the course.

“The one I enjoyed most last year was Hawaii. The tournament’s quite close to Pearl Harbour and I love reading about history so it was fascinating to check that out and take a tour and learn what happened there, what it meant and signified.

“Greenbrier (the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia) was cool as well. In the hotel itself was actually the bunker for the US government if there was an attack on Washington DC. It was hidden in the hotel for more than 30 years and no-one knew it was there because it was classified. Now you can do tours of it, and stuff like that is always interesting to check out.

“I prefer going out and doing something.

“You spend enough time on your own as a golfer so the last thing I want to do is sit in my room.

“I like to check out places, even if it’s just driving around looking at things, that’s more fun to me.” For those reasons, Power will never be downbeat about life on the PGA Tour.

It might be a grind at times but the Irishman is intent on making the most of the experience.

“Every week is such a good opportunity to play well and have a good time. The golf courses are fantastic every week so it makes it really easy to look forward to getting to them and enjoying yourself. I enjoy it and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.”

I was definitely trying too hard

Seamus Power will be intent on making amends for the chances he let slip during his rookie season on the PGA Tour when he gets 2018 up and running at this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.

The West Waterford golfer, 30, begins his second year among golf’s brightest and best at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on Thursday determined to build on a debut campaign that netted him a little more than $646,000 (€540,00) and one top-10 finish, at the Canadian Open, as well as top-25s at the Barbasol Championship and CareerBuilder Challenge.

Yet it also left Power feeling he should have done better than just missing out on the FedEx Cup play-offs with a 130th place finish on the points list, five away from extending his season into the big-money weeks.

“It was good. For my first year, it wasn’t bad. I let a couple of opportunities get away from me which hurt a bit but it got better as the year went along and I had some high-ish finishes towards the end as I got more and more comfortable.

“But overall, I was pleased, to a certain extent. Obviously, I was not overly happy, finishing outside the top 125 but it wasn’t bad and I feel like I learned a lot and hopefully I’ll be able to put that to use in the upcoming year.

“I think early in the season I was definitely trying too hard, knowing you’re in the reshuffle group so you need a good start, you need to do this, you need to do that, instead of just trying to go and play, like I always did.

“As the season went on, it was getting easier. The stakes were higher, your miscues are probably seen by more people and just to get used to that, put it to the back of your mind and keep playing golf is the thing
that I picked up from all of that.

“So hopefully I can do that a little better in the upcoming season.”


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