Jet-setter Alex Cejka divides his time between the European and PGA tours. Despite all the traveling, his game hasn't suffered. Cejka, 34, who holds memberships on both tours, shot a 4-under-par 67 yesterday for a three-round total of 204, which put him in a tie for eighth place at the Booz Allen Classic.
From February through May, Cejka played 12 PGA Tour events, taking two weeks off. In May, he traveled to China and Germany for tournaments before coming back to the PGA Tour in June.
"I've been busy," said Cejka, who has committed to play 11 tournaments in Europe this year. "I had to play a few [European events] in the beginning of the year so I don't have to struggle toward the end."
The travel wears on Cejka, who says this may be his last year playing on the European Tour. "I felt I would give it a go one more year and see what happens," he said. Although he has enjoyed a successful career in Europe, winning 11 events, Cejka prefers the playing conditions in America.
"I think it's more tougher over there," he said. "We don't have the same conditions week after week like they try to do here. The weather is always pure here. . . . I like it here better."
Cejka, who is in his second year on the PGA Tour, hasn't won here yet, but he has come close. Last year, he lost the BC Open to Craig Stadler by one stroke, then came in fourth at the PGA Championship to become the second-highest rookie money winner on tour. He was tied for second at the Masters this year after two rounds but wound up 26th.
"I was up there a few times, but just when you break it through then you know, all right, you belong there," Cejka said. "I think the first one is always the hardest. I had the same in Europe when I won my first, then it was a little bit easier mentally for you. You know you can do it."
All this traveling is nothing new for Cejka, who as a 9-year-old fled communist Czechoslovakia with his father by swimming across a river. The two traveled to Yugoslavia, Italy and Switzerland before settling in Germany. Cejka went back to his native country seven years ago, moving to Prague. Recently, he has been living in Boca Raton, Fla.
"I'm cosmopolitan," he said. "I can't say I'm a German, I'm a Czech or I feel like an American because I live here. I travel so much, and it doesn't really matter if you have a green passport, blue passport or red passport."
No. 16 was the second-most difficult hole at TPC at Avenel yesterday, which wasn't a surprise considering the pin location.
"I was shocked to see where it was," said Kevin Na, who at age 20 is the youngest member of the PGA Tour.
The pin was tucked in the back left corner of the sloping green. If a player missed it to the left, the ball likely was going into the collection area and onto a drain. If he missed it short, it was going into the front bunker.
"When my caddie got up to me, he said, 'This is the strongest I'm ever going to say something to you: Keep this right of the hole,' " Na said.
Na hit it a little left of where he wanted it. He missed his putt just outside the right edge and ended up a foot behind the hole. Although he had a chance to make birdie there, Na was happy to come away with a par.
"I'm telling it to stop," he said. "I was almost trying not to make it because if you catch that left edge and lip it, then you've got four, five feet coming down, and you don't want that."
The missed opportunity didn't hurt Na too much. He made seven birdies in the third round for a 7-under 64, the only bogey-free round of the day. He stands 10 under par for the tournament and is tied for fifth place with Rory Sabbatini and Rich Beem.
Making the Other Rounds
Notah Begay III has had a busy week. Besides playing in the Booz Allen Classic, Begay was on Capitol Hill meeting with congressmen about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, for which he is the national spokesman, and at American University, where he spoke to Native American interns. He also found time to visit his mother, who lives here and works for the Department of Justice.
"The week kind of served all sorts of purposes," Begay said. "I get to see my mom. I get to thank the people for supporting Boys and Girls Club. I went to a function for the Native American interns at American University who are here for the summer and talked with them about some of their goals. I've been busy."
Not too busy, though, to not play well. Begay shot an even-par 71 yesterday to go along with his 6-under 65 on Friday, which put him at 208, tied for 29th place.