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Teeing Off: Is playing or resting the right pre-major move?

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Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing jay.busbee@yahoo.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today we toss around the idea of playing or resting the week before a major championship. With the Shell Houston Open this week and the Masters next, is it better to sit out or play on?

Bacon: As Masters week rolls around, the debate comes up every year; should a player tee it up the week prior in hopes of landing some momentum or should they take the week off, rest, and be prepared for Augusta National? I'm in Camp Play. If it was me, I'd want to be out there competing, on a tough golf course in Redstone, working on things to use next week at the Masters on the golf course. I like the idea of continuing to keep that golfing mentality all the way into Augusta. Doesn't it always seem that college football teams are way more rusty when they have a month off before bowl season?

Busbee: Uh-oh...we're in agreement here. This is the golf equivalent of whether it's better to win a playoff spot early and rest, or play right to the end of the season and maintain momentum through the playoffs. There's the physical element, keeping the swing precise and the muscles finely tuned, but really, a week off won't totally disrupt that. Where I think the extra week of play helps is on the mental side, where you're not spending days and days thinking that I'M ABOUT TO PLAY AUGUSTA. Even the pros admit that it can be daunting, teeing it up where legends have played. Athletes play the best when they don't have time to think about what they're about to do...and what's an off week but another seven days to think about what's to come?

Bacon: Yes, just the thought of playing Augusta National would ruin me for months on end, so anything to distract you is probably a good thing. But, it is worth mentioning that we might be on the wrong side of the debate here. Since 1960, only two players have won the Masters after winning the week before. That was Sandy Lyle in 1988 and Mr. Phil Mickelson in 2004. So maybe resting is the way to go? For me, I'd still want to play, but it seems resting has a way better percentage of success than not. We're wrong here, right?

Busbee: Well, yeah, but that's a given. Thing is, I'm not sure that winning should necessarily be the goal the week before. Sorry, Houston, but I think that the best thing to do if you're a legit competitor at Augusta is to use the week before to make sure your best weapons are at their peak. Get comfortable with your driver, your short game, your flat stick, and if a win comes from that, so much the better. Kind of the equivalent of getting your starting rotation in order for the playoffs. (I love meaningless cross-sport comparisons.)

Oh, and by the way, don't tell anyone, but I know where there's a way into Augusta National. Meet me at Rae's Creek just outside the fence...and bring your snorkel.

Bacon: Yeah, good point. It isn't so much about winning as gaining confidence heading into Masters week. I mean, how many wins do good players even have in a year now? Two? Maybe three? Being in contention is just as important, and if you can do that in Houston, you might just give yourself the momentum one needs to tear up Augusta.

Alright, off to the aquatic store to do some shopping ...

Now your thoughts ... would you play or rest before a major, and which do you think is the smartest move for a pro golfer?

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