Canadians take Idaho

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

Life is good for a few of Canada's top professional golfers this week.

The honeymoon isn't over for Brantford, Ont.'s David Hearn, who was married in his hometown on the weekend.

Oshawa's Jon Mills is rested after attending his buddy Hearn's wedding.

And Weyburn, Sask., native Graham DeLaet, recently ousted from the FedEx Cup playoffs, is using his downtime before the PGA Tour fall series to play at home in Meridian, Idaho.

Hearn, Mills and DeLaet are all teeing it up in the Nationwide Tour Boise Open this week. And even though they are all in different places professionally, they came together on the eve of the tournament.

"A few of us are going over to (DeLaet's) place tonight for a barbeque," Mills said Wednesday.

But after a couple Canadian beers were downed, perhaps, and maybe steaks, chicken and Idaho potatoes, the real meat of the season began for these players.

For Mills, the approach isn't going to change in the final stretch of the Nationwide schedule. He says that in the past, he likely would play himself to the bone, but he is already planning on taking one of the final seven events off, even if he's outside the Top 25 at the time.

"I kind of put it out of my mind," said Mills, an eight-year pro at 32 years of age.

"I'm taking Chattanooga (the Chattanooga Classic, Oct. 7-10) off. In the past I would have played them all but I'm sticking to what works for me."

Mills and Hearn tied for ninth at the Mylan Classic in Pennsylvania the week prior to Hearn's wedding. Both slipped slightly (Mills went from 29th to 32nd and Hearn from 20th to 21st), but Mills said a good result made it easier to skip a week.

" I have been in this situation a lot and the biggest thing is being patient," he said.

Mills also plans on spending time with his coach, Sean Foley, during his next week off, something that he says may be a little tougher given the Canadian swing coach has formally been linked to Tiger Woods.

"I just started working with Sean at the end of last year. With my old coach (Toronto's Dave Woods), if something wasn't going right I'd just call him or see him, but with Sean, it's a little different. "

While getting time with Foley might be difficult (and that was before Woods), Mills understands why the coach is suddenly the toast of the golf world.

"He's very confident and he motivates his players," Mills said.

"He'll watch you and he'll say something like, 'I truly believe you're hitting the ball well enough to win an event in the next few weeks,' and the way he says it, it makes you feel confident that you can."

Mills should bring some confidence into this week's tournament. Mills won the Boise Open on the same course in 2007, shooting a final-round 64 and setting a tournament record with a four-day total of 21-under 263. That win propelled him from 24th on the money list to fifth (he eventually finished fourth to lock up his PGA Tour card for 2008).

"I've actually won this tournament before," Mills said. "I missed the cut last year, but I've had success here."

Mills said the key to his success in 2007 was his putting and that he came from behind to take the win.

That's the kind of approach he is taking to the finish of this season as well: Stay within striking distance and hope to be there when everything shakes out. Mills has been in the hunt before and he says he's confident in his abilities.

"There were a couple years where I was in the Top 5 or Top 10 a lot," Mills said. "Not every year is like that -- I wish it was -- but it makes it easier when you're not nervous.

"You almost expect to be there."

Mills would like to be there on the PGA Tour, along with his buddy Hearn.

They grew up playing golf against one another and now there's a friendly competition between them.

" I want to catch him," Mills said. "I think it kind of motivates both of us."

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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