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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.