For Sean O'Hair, the race is on to qualify for the Masters.
By his best calculations, to qualify for the elite field at Augusta National in six weeks, O'Hair needs to win a tournament at one of the next three weeks of the PGA Tour's Florida Swing.
Having slipped to 82d in the world golf rankings, only top-five finishes or a victory at the upcoming Honda Classic, Tampa Bay Championship or the Arnold Palmer Invitational (formerly Bay Hill) would be enough to catapult O'Hair into the top 50 in the rankings, earning him a ticket to Augusta. (Paul Goydos jumped from 133d to 39th when he won the Sony Open).
"I need to win," O'Hair, 24, said Friday from his home in West Chester, where he was recovering from a mild bout of food poisoning (bad pizza).
O'Hair, rookie of the year and winner of the John Deere Classic in 2005, is more upbeat about his chances than you might expect after he made only one cut (Nissan Open) in four tournaments during the just-ended West Coast Swing.
"I think the prettiest place in the world is Monterey. But golf-wise I am never comfortable in California," said O'Hair. "I never played well there in juniors, the mini-tours or on the PGA Tour. I think it has something to do with the grass."
For golfers who grow up on the East Coast grasses (Bermuda and bent), the poa annua grass so common on greens on the West Coast can be maddeningly tricky.
"They make you think you're a bad putter when you're not," said Steve Lucas, O'Hair's caddie and father-in-law.
Still, it's enough to get inside your head, which is why O'Hair plans to spend time at the Honda with Bob Rotella, sports shrink to the Tour stars.
"It's definitely mental," O'Hair said of his putting woes. "Rotella thinks I've got to forget about making the putt or missing the putt and just get over the ball and react to the target."
What's so frustrating, said O'Hair, is that the rest of his game has never been better, even with the post-winter rust on his swing. "I haven't hit the ball as well or as consistently in my career," he said. "It's just on the greens."
Only five days remain before the start of next weekend's Victory Golf Show at Valley Forge Convention Center.
Organizers promise plenty of new and used clubs for sale, an indoor range with demo clubs, free 15-minute lessons from PGA club pros, guest speakers, local celebrities, a kids' zone, goodie bags, even what organizers are calling the Pennsylvania Putting Championship.
Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $9, $3 for juniors 13 to 17, and free for kids 12 and under.
For details and directions, visit the Web site, www.victorygolfshow.com.
The Devine 9 Open, one of the more successful charity events in the area, has a new date - Sept. 14 - and a title sponsor. It's now the TD Banknorth Devine 9 Celebrity Pro-Am.
If you or your organization needs a refresher on the rules, the Golf Association of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Section PGA are offering one March 31. Cost is $65 for the 8:30 a.m.-to-3 p.m. course, taught by a U.S. Golf Association expert. It is the only rules seminar set for 2007.
Register at www.gapgolf.org.