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COVER STORY


ATRICK PETERSON HAS BEEN chosen to play in the Pro Bowl in each of his five seasons in


the NFL, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a case that he is the Arizona Cardinals’ best player. Yes, Larry Fitzgerald fans would put up a good argument. Both also are golf nuts on a team with plenty of guys eager to tee it up, including quarterback Carson Palmer and Coach Bruce Arians. Peterson estimates that there are “about 15” Cardinals who are proficient around the fairways and greens. Probably none, however, is more obsessed with golf than the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, who has established a 2.3 handicap even though he took up the game little more than four years ago and has had virtually no instruction. Last summer, Peterson proudly tweeted a


copy of his scorecard after shooting 2-over- par 74 at Pebble Beach, playing from the tips, after making bogeys on each of the first two holes. His attention to detail was evident on the card, which showed fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts, score and which club he hit off the tee on each hole. At home, he works on his game with a


putting green, short-game practice area and an indoor simulator, and he’s quick to whip out pictures of the facilities on his cell phone. In March, he will combine golf with


another passion, the Patrick Peterson Foundation for Success, by hosting the first Patrick Peterson Celebrity Golf Tournament at Camelback Golf Club’s Ambiente Course. The event promises to feature plenty of celebrities, including Cardinals teammates, with the hope of raising more than a half- million dollars for the foundation that focuses on childhood literacy and reading programs. (Information: www.patrickpeterson.org) Peterson and his wife, Antonique,


recently welcomed their first child as she gave birth to a daughter on Thanksgiving. They named the baby Paityn as a tribute to Antonique’s favorite quarterback, Peyton Manning. Peterson is thrilled about being a father but not sure what the impact will be on his golf game. Recently, he talked to AZ Golf Insider


about that, his approach to golf, his dream foursome and where his love of the game might lead.


www.azgolf.org


Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson also is an All-Pro with the kids.


How did you get started playing golf? I got started in 2011 in Florida due to the NFL lockout, which is one great thing that came out of the lockout. Other than working out, guys had to find ways to spend their time. I was living in this condo that had a golf course right behind it and the owner had left a set of clubs there. Training was canceled one day so I took the clubs and went to the driving range. Seven is my favorite number so I grabbed a 7-iron, hit a shot that went pretty long and perfectly straight, and I said, “Oh my god, I think I can play this game.” I was hooked immediately and I haven’t put down the clubs since.


With the NFL season, is it a challenge to find time to play? During the season, for about the first eight weeks, Larry (Fitzgerald) and I and a couple other guys try to get out on Friday or Saturday. After that, the shoulders are shot so I don’t play but still do a lot of putting. During the off- season I try to play four times a week, but that might change a little bit now that we have the baby because that comes first. Momma (Antonique) is still going to give me opportunities to play because I’m committed to several tournaments. I’m sure I will find playing time, but with the baby it’s definitely going to be different.


How would you describe your golf game? In a word, “fearless.” That’s the approach


I take. I don’t spend a lot of time over the ball, thinking about shots. I just want to get up and hit it. I don’t want a lot of thoughts going through my head because in the early part of my so-called golf career I found myself thinking too much about what I wanted the ball to do. Once I got the principles down with hand position and club-head position, that took a lot of the thinking out of it. I don’t like practicing a lot on the range, just some stretching, hit a couple balls, hit a few putts and get to the tee. But when I get on the course, I am fearless. I rarely lay it up. I go for it. I’m a risk- reward guy.


What has been your best golf round to date? My round (of 74) at Pebble Beach was pretty good, but the best I have played was at my home course (Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club) when I shot 1 under. I was there with a couple trainers from the Cardinals and I, literally, was calling out every shot before I hit it. I was on fire, and it was a great feeling. The thing I love about golf is that you can expect something different every time you play.


What are some of your favorite places to play? Locally, besides Superstition Mountain, I love Camelback, Estancia, Whisper Rock, TPC Scottsdale, Whirlwind, Raven, Ocotillo, Phoenician — there are a whole bunch of them, which is a great thing about being here in the Valley.


PREVIEW 2016 | AZ GOLF Insider | 21


GENE LOWER


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