Scoggins: Even road-tested Calcavecchia could use break

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2012 - 10:47 PM

Navigating the tour in an RV, he makes a viable Champions living.

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Mark Calcavecchia shot a 66 and finished the 3M Championship at 11 under, which left him tied for 10th place and ended a stretch of nine tournaments in 10 weeks for him.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Mark Calcavecchia looked like a guy who needed a vacation. Or at least a break from golf and living out of a suitcase.

"Exhausted," he said.

Calcavecchia concluded a "long, busy 10 weeks" on Sunday with a solid final round in the 3M Championship. He bunched four birdies in five holes, including three consecutive early in his round to join the leaderboard.

He got to 6 under for the round after 11 holes, but he hit an iron shot into the water on No. 14, made bogey and essentially fell out of contention at that point.

Calcavecchia shot a 66 and finished the three-day tournament at 11 under, which left him tied for 10th place. He had some nice moments at TPC Twin Cities, but the trip home to Florida probably felt just as enjoyable.

The 3M ended a stretch of nine tournaments in 10 weeks for Calcavecchia, including the British Open and the Senior British Open in consecutive weeks before he arrived in Blaine. He had piloted his luxury motorhome to the first six tournaments stateside, putting 6,000 miles on the odometer.

"The one week we didn't have a tournament," he said, "I played golf pretty much every day."

What in the world would motivate a 52-year-old guy who's had five knee surgeries and pocketed more than $24 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour to keep that kind of schedule?

"Expenses motivate me," Calcavecchia said with a smile. "Payments. I've got a lot of them."

The 1989 British Open champion looks like he still has a lot of golf left in him, too. He tied for ninth at the British Open two weeks ago and then tied for 10th at the Senior Open last week in Turnberry, Scotland. The bookend performance left him less than satisfied because his putter failed him.

"Last week didn't do anything for me," he said. "I played a lot better than I scored. Quite honestly, the same thing happened to me here."

This is Calcavecchia's second full season on the Champions Tour, though he still plays a few events on the PGA Tour. He might not attract the same size galleries as, say, Fred Couples or Tom Lehman, but he's the kind of recognizable name that gives senior events credibility, with a résumé that includes 13 PGA Tour titles, one major championship, 142 top-10 finishes and four Ryder Cup teams.

He's certainly made the senior tour more competitive. Calcavecchia led the Champions Tour in top-10 finishes last season with 15 in 22 events and collected $1.8 million in earnings. He's fifth on the money list this season at nearly $1 million.

"I've been hitting it great," he said.

He also enjoys taking the more scenic route to tournaments from his Florida home. Golfers are creatures of habit and routine, but 30 years of professional golf provided Calcavecchia with his fill of airports and hotels. He bought an RV last year and drives to roughly half of the tournaments with his wife/caddie, Brenda.

"I drive it the whole way and take our time coming home," he said. "It's truly a home on wheels. You've got a fridge, bed, bar, TV. Unlimited entertainment options and it's super comfy. Beats the heck out of hotels."

Plus, he said, Brenda cooks dinner every night so they hardly leave once they reach a tournament. He plans to drive to tournaments in San Antonio and Phoenix later this season.

"Sometimes it gets a little tiring," he said. "But if you can handle the driving aspect of it ..."

Calcavecchia didn't have to worry about that Sunday because he wisely decided to fly to the Twin Cities. Given his schedule the past two months, he just wanted to get home as soon as possible.

"I'm ready for a break, that's for sure," he said.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

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