I doubt I'll be nominated for rookie of the year, unless it's for worst player of the class of 2001. Of the 25 rookies on the PGA Tour this season, I finished lowest on the money list, at 210, and made only six cuts in 27 starts. My best tournament was the BellSouth Classic, in which I came in 34th. I may no longer be a rookie—or, for that matter, a Tour member—but I do have a few tips that might help the members of the class of '02 avoid having the kind of year I had.
First, a swing coach is a must. I've never had one because I didn't think I needed one. I figured I could work out any kinks in my swing by banging balls at the range, but I was wrong, and poor driving accuracy (I ranked 182nd) was a weakness all year. In the long run, hiring a coach and taking time off to work on my swing would have been more beneficial than playing more events in a shortsighted attempt to make more money. Also, take advantage of the Tour's fitness trailer. It's a long season, and I wish I had spent more time on the treadmill and doing stomach crunches than downing Guinness at Outback Steakhouses.
Above all, try not to act like a rookie. I needed nine years on the mini-tours and six failed attempts at Q school to reach the Tour, and, man, it showed. I didn't figure out until midseason that you're supposed to pick up the goody packets in your locker at the start of the week. I got an earful from my wife, Kelley, about all the free NBA games, fishing expeditions and trips to the spa that we missed. Then there was the time Kelley was following my group on the course and got page to pick up our daughter, Riley. Neither of us had a clue that the Tour's day-care center had closed 15 minutes earlier.
I'll be playing the mini-tours again next year, but at least now I know what to do when I return to the Tour in 2003. That's when I'll earn another award: sophomore of the year.