Where Tina Barrett credits a different attitude and some solid work with her coach as reasons for improvement, responding to adversity is the key theme for Fred Funk and Webb Heintzelman, as Maryland's professional tour members face the remaining weeks of their seasons with renewed optimism.
Barrett and Heintzelman were off last week, and Funk was in town for the Ronald McDonald House pro-am, fresh from two weeks off, and headed for the Greater Milwaukee Open. He shot 73-69142 and missed the cut by two strokes.
"Last year, I was just spinning my wheels, and I knew I couldn't continue like that," third-year pro Barrett, 25, said of a year in which she earned $17,867 while fashioning a 74.81 stroke average with a best finish of 11th.
"I simply was determined to come out this year with a different attitude. My whole goal was to play the best I could and let everything take care of itself."
For a change, there has not been a whole lot of adversity in the Baltimorean's year to date -- "You can't expect to make every cut, and I haven't" -- as she has played in 21 events and cashed 15 checks for $124,802. Asked if she thought that total might have been possible before the season started, she laughed and said, "No way."
Early in the year she made eight straight cuts with two top five finishes, missed three cuts in a row in June and for her past six events, there have been five checks, including two 11ths and a third, her best finish since a win two years ago.
"I worked on some swing thoughts with my teacher [DeDe Owens] the week before the Open [tie for 11th and an Open
exemption for next year.
"She was able to watch my swing under pressure, be sure I was doing the right things, and when I hit a bad 5-iron, I'd finish the round and go hit 5-irons. I've been patient, and now I feel things are coming together."
She will play four tournaments on the West Coast, go to Japan for two tournaments in November and then will team with Funk in the annual mixed team event in Florida in December.
Funk's most recent disaster was a last-round 81 after starting 71-69-72 in the PGA Championship last month.
"That was my biggest disappointment," said Funk, 35, a third-year tour player from Laurel. "It took me out of some possible exemptions, such as the Masters, and it magnified one of my problems because the hardest thing for me has been to put together four good rounds.
"Overall, I've played really well when I've been in contention, and generally, I've played well on the weekends." This is reflected in the $222,553 (59th) he has earned this season, assuring him exempt status for next year.
Asked about PGA champion John Daly, Funk said he had been paired with about four times earlier in the season and admitted being intimidated -- not so much by the long-driving Daly as by the galleries, who would ooh and aah and then rush off. "There would be all that movement while I was trying to hit my 'puff' shot."
It is a shot the 5-foot-8 and 160-pound Funk manages to move an average of 253.7 yards.
The PGA Tour has eight regular events left, running through the end of October, and Funk is uncertain what his schedule will be. "I'll play the next two [Milwaukee and the Canadian Open], then take off a week or two. It depends on how things are going."
Heintzelman, grinding it out on the Ben Hogan Tour, is in the opposite position.
With six events left, he will play five of them, as he strives to finish among the top five in earnings and gain a PGA Tour exemption for next year. Otherwise, it will be back to the qualifying school.
The major disappointment for Heintzelman, 29, who lives in Cabin John, came at Tulsa last month, when he was leading going to the last day, then shot 84. A win or a high finish would have jumped him into the top five and perhaps made the task at hand a little easier.
BTC "I was so disappointed, I spent the next week working harder than ever to try and get through it and figure out what to do," Heintzelman said the other day.
"One of the caddies saw me and asked if he could say something. He told me my eyes were coming off the ball as the putter came through at impact and it was throwing me off-line.
""I'd always been a great putter until I came on tour. Now, the last two weeks, I've felt fantastic, putted well and see some great times coming."
For the Hogan Tour statistics, he ranks second in birdies (241), fifth in scoring (70.64) and ninth in earnings ($48,319), about $11,000 removed from fifth place. For his past 30 rounds, only three have been over par.
"My stats keep me motivated -- not a week-to-week satisfaction, but pointing toward an end-of-year satisfaction," he said. "To move up [on the money list], I need a win or a couple of high finishes, but I'm not putting that kind of pressure on myself. My goal is to be among the top five on the money list at the end, and if I perform well, that's definitely possible."
This week's schedule: Tuesday--Oldsmobile Scramble, Wakefield Valley GC, Westminster, 8 a.m. Wednesday-Thursday--Middle Atlantic Golf Association Women's Amateur Championship, Turf Valley CC, 8 a.m. Friday--Maryland State Golf Association Seniors Championship, Chartwell CC, Severna Park, 8 a.m; Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, The Bay Club, Berlin, 8 a.m. Saturday--Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, Green Hill Y&CC, Quantico, 8 a.m. Sunday--Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, Ocean Pines GC, 8 a.m.