Cancer can't keep Auburn women out of NCAAs

By Associated PressMay 19, 2013, 6:29 pm

Coach Kim Evans was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer on May 7. One of the Tigers' top players, Victoria Trapani, missed much of the spring after doctors found her mother's breast cancer had returned in December.

Assistant coach Margaret Shirley left in February because she couldn't travel with the team during her own bout with health issues.

The Tigers barely managed to advance to the championships starting Tuesday in Athens, Ga., with an eighth-place regional finish. Only the top eight teams qualify for the 24-team field. Student assistant Danielle Downey coached the team at regionals, while Evans recuperated from surgery to remove an ovary.

''We proved a lot to ourselves,'' Trapani said. ''We kind of lost it in ourselves after constantly having bad news. Literally, it was like one thing after another. We're young, and we shouldn't have to be faced with all the things we've been through. Ultimately, we've grown as people and as a team, and it showed after our performance at regionals.''

Evans managed to watch the Tigers tee off on the final day and returned for the finish after rebuilding strength with a long nap.

Evans, who starts chemotherapy five days after the championships end, received her doctor's blessing on Wednesday to make the trip to Athens. She's already discussed the course with her team because she doesn't expect to be able to make the practice round.

The ''kooky,'' fun-loving players who have been through so much make Evans chuckle.

''I love this team. It's a gutsy little team, and they're a lot of fun,'' said Evans, who started feeling fatigued in February. ''For me, it's more of a celebration. I get to go over there and watch them do their thing and see a lot of amazing coaches that reached out to me over the last few weeks and kind of enjoy myself for a couple of days. Then be able to come back here and get ready for this battle I have.''

It seemed unlikely the Tigers would make it this far.

They finished last in back-to-back tournaments after a strong start in the fall but earned a No. 14 seed in the regional after a resurgence at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C., and the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Trapani's return provided a morale boost.

She remained in school during the spring but mostly took a break from golf amid the burden of her mother's own cancer fight. Kim Trapani had been diagnosed with breast cancer when Victoria was in high school.

Doctors found that it had returned right before finals in December and that the cancer had metastasized into her lungs.

Some good news finally came after spring break because the cancer hadn't spread in the previous few months. Victoria Trapani returned to the course.

''I told her that if she tries to beat this and changes her diet and does certain things, then I'll get back out on the golf course and try to make our lives as normal as possible,'' the sophomore said. ''We made kind of a deal. That's when I started back playing golf.''

Shirley now works for Atlanta Junior Golf, where she got her own start as a youngster. She was diagnosed with low blood pressure after she had passed out several times, including once at Auburn football’s national championship game in January 2011. She took much of November and December off, and doctors placed her on travel restrictions until May.

Shirley, who played for Evans, said she's fine now. She showed up for part of the Friday round during regionals to cheer on her former team and said what they accomplished ''brought me to tears.''

''They just kind of had that look in their eye,'' Shirley said. ''They're fighters. They've had to be this year. There's only one way to do it. You could tell they were playing for Coach just from the minute they walked out on that golf course.''

Evans has her own take on what the Tigers have endured this season. It's the highs and lows of life, not just golf.

''It's been a year of life is what it's been,'' she said. ''We've all kind of had a little chapter in it. I couldn't be more proud of them to just keep on keeping on. They're taking it as they come. The good times, too. We've had some great times.

''They're just going to keep on keeping on.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.