Chargers scrappy RB Danny Woodhead also scratch golfer

SAN DIEGO -- Standing in the middle of the fairway on the first hole at Morgan Run Club & Resort, Danny Woodhead casually hit a wedge to a few feet for a birdie, walking up to the green to a smattering of golf claps from the rest of his group and a few fans hovering for autographs.

This is what Woodhead does: makes difficult things look easy.

“I know he works at it, but it’s so easy for him -- it drives me crazy,” San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Some of the shots he makes, he’s not even in my league.

“Obviously he’s shot rounds under par before, but I’ve seen him go a steady 10 to 12 pars in a row. He hits the fairway, hits the green, two-putt.”

Rivers has a good excuse for not being good at golf -- eight kids at home to chase around.

“He’s not bad,” Woodhead said about Rivers’ game. “He’s competitive, obviously. But he doesn’t play enough. I have three kids and it’s hard to play. So I think it probably would be a little harder.”

San Diego’s do-everything back, Woodhead is slippery on the field, breaking tackles with the best of them. But that competitive edge also comes out on the golf course, which Woodhead developed a passion for as an 8-year-old when his grandfather taught him the game.

Woodhead’s father, Mark, and older brother Ben also play, so hitting the links is a regular event for the Woodhead family.

“I love it,” said Woodhead, as he slipped off the cover of his putter -- the left shoe of an old pair of LeBrons his son Will used to wear -- to tap in the short putt. “It’s relaxing but it’s also competitive.”

He gets out once or twice a week once the regular season is over. At his offseason home of Omaha, Nebraska, he plays at places such as the The Players Club at Deer Creek, an Arnold Palmer designed course, or Pacific Springs Golf Club.

Woodhead is no slouch. He’s a scratch golfer who shot a career-best 66 four years ago.

Like all good golfers, Woodhead is money around the greens. He drained putts from 44, 20 and 10 feet just through the first six holes at Morgan Run.

He’s a fan of the young guns taking over golf, including Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. But his favorite golfer is Phil Mickelson.

Ever played with Mickelson, Danny?

“Nope, never played with him, but that would be awesome,” Woodhead said. “I hear he’s a Chargers fan.”

You heard right, Danny.

Woodhead showed his passion for golf earlier this year in January, playing 18 holes in a driving rainstorm with Rivers and former teammates Eric Weddle and John Phillips, just two days after San Diego’s season was over.

"I was like, 'Guys, this is ridiculous -- let's go eat lunch,'" Rivers said. "And Danny was like, 'No, I’ve got to finish. I’m trying to break 90.'

“The thing with him, if he’s going to do something, he’s very serious about it. He doesn’t just play to play.”

Woodhead, 31, sees similarities in football and golf, with the mental gymnastics it takes to be successful in both.

“Most people wouldn’t think it, but football is mentally grueling,” Woodhead said. “Everyone thinks it’s physical, but once you get to the NFL I think the tough part is mental. I think that’s what makes it what it is.

“Everyone sees the physical grind, and it’s 100 percent a physical grind. But it’s definitely a mental grind. I know golf is also a mental grind, and I think that’s why I like it. I can also use my athleticism, but it’s definitely a mental grind.”