True confessions of a PGA round-belly

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- To listen to many of today's players tell it, golf is all about work, work and more work. When most of these guys aren't working, they're at least working out.

So how do you explain 45-year-old Mark Calcavecchia's five-shot lead after 36 holes in the Bell Canadian Open?

In today's fitness-conscious pro golf culture, Calcavecchia is a true contrarian, a round-belly in a world of washboard stomachs.

Last week, for example, Calcavecchia took the week off. Now some guys take the week off and some guys take the week OFF. On Vijay Singh's weeks off, it just means he practises five or six hours a day instead of eight or 10.

And Calcavecchia?

"Never even touched a club for seven days. There's not a whole lot you can do in Arizona in summer, or really want to do," he said. "Drive the kids to school, go home, take a nap, watch a little TV, take another nap, go back to school, open a bottle of wine, cook some food, day over, go to bed at 9 o'clock. It goes amazingly fast."

Needless to say, Calcavecchia isn't one of the Tour's flat-bellies, obsessed with his game.

"No, I'm not a workaholic," he said after yesterday's round of 67 gave him a five-shot advantage after 36 holes over Shaughnessy Golf Club's tree-lined fairways.

"My back hurts too much to stand out there hitting many balls. You know, I do hit some as needed but I'm not going to go to the range or the putting green. I've got a real good feel of what I'm doing with my swing."

Calcavecchia finished his second round about noon yesterday and retired to his hotel room to relax.

"I'm going to go back, watch a little of the tournament on TV."

He's particularly excited about the weekend tee times. Because of eastern TV interests, tee times here on the west coast will be much earlier than normal, with the leaders on the course by 10 a.m.

"It's tough when you're playing on the east coast and you've got that 2:15 (p.m.) tee time or sometimes even later. I'm a morning guy and it's tough when you're a morning guy and you're sitting on the lead and you've got a little tension going and you don't know what to do with yourself.

"You can only watch SportsCenter so much, you know."

Calcavecchia is the kind of guy Canadians could easily embrace as their champion. He embodies all the qualities we seem to find attractive in our athletes: He is honest, he is humble, he is funny and he is self-effacing. And when he gets it going, he can play golf with anybody.

That said, he's more than willing to admit his foibles and his anxieties. For example, everybody who's ever picked up a putter knows one of the keys to putting well is to keep your head still. But it's something Calcavecchia never has mastered.

"If I try to keep my head still, I'll yank it every time," he said. "I've just got to look. I can't stand it. So I just try to stay as still as I can.

"So, as you can imagine, I get very nervous over short putts and I have missed a few shorties that have hurt."

"With the Claw, I don't yip any more. It's a great grip for me because it locks my wrist and I can at least hit a decent putt."

He's hit a bunch of decent putts here this week but mostly he has hit the ball straight off the tee, allowing him to go at most of the pins on Shughnessy's smallish greens.

"I've had some luck, he said. "It seems when I've hit it in the rough, I've still been able to advance it into a good place on the green."

That in turn, has allowed him to open up some air between himself and the field heading into the weekend.

Truth is, it's going to take a powerful rally by somebody, or at least an uncharacteristic collapse by the unflappable Calcavecchia for things to change over the next two days.


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