Scott Hoch, Davis Love III and I were shooting the breeze at Hilton Head the week after the 1999 Masters when Scott asked me what I was doing the next week.
"Going to Ireland," I said.
" Ireland?" he asked. "For what?"
"To play golf," I said.
He looked at me as if I had two heads. "You mean you actually like this game?" he asked, incredulous.
"Well, yeah, I do," I said. "Don't you?"
"I hate this game," he said, grumbling.
I explained to Scott that a buddy of mine had been bugging me to go to Ireland for years. Lately this same friend had been telling me that I was getting way too serious about golf, that I needed to fall in love with the game again. The trip was supposed to be a second honeymoon.
Not surprisingly, word of my plans spread through the locker room faster than a good joke. I should've worn a flak jacket. "You're going to Ireland in the middle of the season just for fun?" one player asked. "Man, I wouldn't go there for a hundred grand to play in a tournament!"
I admit, it is unusual for a Tour pro to go on a golf vacation, but I thought, Maybe this was just another first in a year of firsts: The previous August I had gotten my first—and up to this point, my only—Tour victory, and I had just played in my first Masters, where I was the first-round leader.