WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton enjoyed a vacation of sorts this week at the Greenbrier Classic, caddying for friend Ryan Palmer at the fourth annual event at the Old White TPC.
Payton admits he doesn't offer much to his partner, but said he has learned a lot about the game and the differences between football and golf. Palmer gave his regular caddy, James Edmondson, the week off.
"It's a grind, just in regards to what these guys have to do," said Payton, who has a 67-37 career coaching record and a Super Bowl XLIV victory in 2009. "With just the mental approach and the mental focus for as many shots and if you don't put a bad shot behind you ... and I imagine that each course is a little bit different than this one."
Now, it's back to his regular job for Payton, who starts practice with strength and conditioning tests and meetings on July 25 and non-padded practice sessions on July 26.
Payton didn't coach the Saints during the 2012 season when they finished 7-9 - their first losing season since 2007 (also 7-9). Instead, he spent his time during the 2012 suspension serving as the offensive coordinator for his son Connor's sixth-grade football team.
In his first season (2006), the Saints were 19th in the NFL in rushing and finished 10-6. In 2007 when the Saints slipped to 7-9 - Payton's only losing season as a head coach - they were 28th in rushing. In 2008, they were 8-8 and 28th in rushing. Payton acknowledges the need to run the ball to reach the pinnacle and the numbers don't lie.
The Saints were sixth in 2009 when they won the Super Bowl. "I think balance is important for us," said Payton, following his final round caddying with Palmer on Sunday. "It's been a good formula. I was in '06, '09, 10 and 11. You get one-dimensional, it gets easier for opponents to play against you."
As for Palmer, he has three wins on the PGA Tour and is a Dallas Cowboys fan.
"I gave him a hard time because he's going to be at a couple games this year, because he'll have his Saints topcoat on but his Cowboys tattoo underneath," Payton said. "It's a good rivalry. We've had a handful of good games against Dallas and a number of good teams."
Palmer hasn't won a PGA Tour event since the season-opening Sony Open in 2010. This year he has made the cut 14 times in 18 events with four top 10 finishes.
THE FINAL round of the Greenbrier Classic was delayed from 1:50-5 p.m., making for a quick finish.
The 1:50 p.m. pairing of Jonas Blixt and Matt Jones teed off a little after 5 p.m. and Johnson Wagner and Jimmy Walker - the final group - didn't tee off until 9 minutes later.
The final two groups were the only ones that didn't tee off before dangerous weather halted play and the tournament was finished just before 9 p.m.
Wagner didn't blame the darkness on his play, but said he would've preferred threesomes to guarantee finishing before dark - weather delay or not.
"I just never got comfortable with my putter all day," Wagner told The Golf Channel. "The rain, it slowed the greens down; I should've adjusted quicker than I did. I felt like I swung it good early then somewhere around 15 it just left.
"I'm furious. Given where I was a couple weeks ago, I'll take a lot of positives. It was dark, it was really dark. We should've played threesomes early, not that that would've made any difference with my round. The last few holes I felt like we just wanted to finish ... of course we wanted to finish. Anyway, I didn't mean to sound like a baby there, but I'm just furious."
Blixt said the weather helped him.