Balancing a Pro Career On a Motorcycle
You can imagine the scene he is whipping down the highway, scarf flying from his neck, outfitted in his leathers, when suddenly his bike is sideswiped by a drunk motorist and he is sent flying.
Well, Sammy Rachels story isnt quite so dramatic. His motorcycle, in fact, was parked in his driveway back home in DeFuniak Springs, Fla. It was last June, and he had just finished taking a spin. He engaged the kickstand, started to walk away, then came back for something he had forgotten.
Suddenly, however, his glove got caught in the handlebars and he went topsy-turvy over the thing, landing unceremoniously in an awkward heap.
It was basically a Keystone Kops fall ' a clumsy, simple fall, said Rachels.
It actually started to fall over and I tried to grab it ' tried to let it go and it snagged me, just tripped me over. It was more embarrassing than anything else. Its amazing that it ended up doing what it did. Ive fallen a lot worse than that over the years and havent gotten anywhere near that kind of damage.
Rachels, who talks like the good ole' boy that he is, severely sprained his shoulder. Playing a tournament was impossible for the remainder of 2003.
I might as well have tried to tackle Bo Jackson, he said. Because I just fell on it ' in an awkward manner. I lost my balance, and when I fell I hit the edge of the tank with my rib cage.
Now, youve got to realize the predicament in which Sammy finds himself. He was a 10-year journeyman on the regular tour, a tortured soul who labored throughout with a bad back. He underwent four surgeries, and when he was 35 he figured he had had enough. He went home to a club pros job in his hometown.
By the time he was 50, though, he had made an uneasy peace with his spine. He decided to follow his lifes dream and give it one big shot. He entered the Champions Tour qualifying school - and was one of eight who made it!
Then he stunned everyone ' not the least himself - when he won twice the first year (2001), then again in 2002. He had played seven events in 2003 when Clumsy Man took over. His ungainly sprawl meant that last year was a wipeout. And that means that his two-year exemption from his last victory runs out at the end of this year. Rachels didnt earn nearly enough during his PGA Tour career to earn permanent status on the Champions Tour.
I CANT quit - thats my problem right there, he said. Im a member of the What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately club. If youre not on the all-time money list I just have to keep playing and hope that I can figure out how to do it.
And thats become particularly difficult since he learned at the start of this year that he had more than injured just his shoulder.
I went so long without playing, Rachels said. I rehabbed the hell out of my shoulder, and when I started back up my shoulder was fine, but this is what hurt.
This is the rib area. Hes gone to a dozen doctors trying to figure out what the lingering pain was, had bone scans, X-rays, blood work and the prevailing theory was that he also suffered cartilage damage in the Great Bike Caper.
So the next question is, how do you rehab your ribs?
You dont! Rachels said bluntly. Theres nothing you can do. I tried to strap them up and that hurt me worse! So they put me on a steroid pack to see if thatll do it. Maybe thatll take care of some of the inflammation in the cartilage area.
But this is getting serious. Time is rapidly running out for Sammy. Hes a professional golfer, hes proven he can be a darned good one, but if he isnt well enough to get it done this year, its all over. It will be back to Q-School, back to Square One. It may be back to the settled life of a club pro.
It just changes the way you move so much, Rachels explained his difficulty. So this year has really been a disappointment so far.
Disappointment is hardly the word for it. Sammy has started nine tournaments, and his best finish is a tie for 20th. The last four starts he has finished T48, 68th, T44 and T42. But ' there is hope. He has noticed the pain is beginning to give up its grasp on Rachels torso.
My backs a little sore, but thats an old enemy. So that ones fine, he said. Its these things up here (the ribs) that are giving me such a fit this year.
Rachels needs to finish in the top 30 to come back next year. He is 59th. But he still has more than half the season to climb the ladder, so maybe he can do it. After all, before the injury, he finished 18th and 23rd in the rankings.
Oh ' and the motorcycle? Wife Pia stepped in and 'made arrangements' until Rachels has ended his golfing career.
My wife blames it on the motorcycle, but it could have been a wheelbarrow. I mean, I just fell!
Im not allowed to ride it anymore, he said with a wry grin. My youngest sons got it now ' for safekeeping!
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Day (68) just one back at Australian Open
Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.
Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)
What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.
Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.
Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.
Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.
Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.