James Oft-Injured But Still a Winner

By George WhiteJuly 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
Its good to win a golf tournament any time in your career, of course. But when its a major (the Ford Seniors Players Championship) and its on your new circuit (the Champions Tour) in a new country (the United States), victory is oh, so sweet!
That was Mark James in 2004. This week, he returns to the Detroit area to defend his title. Hes enormously thankful that he has the chance, thank you.
Mark James
Mark James vener dreamed he win a Champions Tour major in 2004.
It was in 2000 that James wasnt sure if he would ever play again. He got the dreaded news that he had testicular cancer. Following a long, painful battle with the disease, the 1999 European Ryder Cup captain finally whipped it and was able to continue his career.
The string of events is still startlingly clear to him, starting with the first inklings that something was wrong.
I had a very big tumor in the middle of my body that was about 10 inches by 4 in the abdominal cavity that originated in the testicle, he explained. They didn't know what kind of cancer it was at first. I was very ill at that point. I couldn't eat. The stomach pushed on the tumor and the spine. I was very ill, not eating, losing weight rapidly.
I had to have a full laparoscopy to get a full diagnosis and get the tissue out to decide what kind of treatment to have. As soon as we knew the type of cancer, they said it's not too bad, you have a 90 percent chance here.
I started chemo very quickly, and immediately the pain went because the tumor started to react. It was sort of a period of six weeks it was very worrying, but then it eventually got better and the chemo went well, and everything went fine after that.
Of course, its always a real cause for alarm when the doctors mention the word cancer.
I was diagnosed in 2000 and had an operation October 2000, he said. I finished my chemo January 1st and had another operation to remove the remnants of the dead tumor in February '01, but I came back and went skiing five weeks after that. It was brilliant. I had been working out and everything, but I didn't have the strength. If I made the cut and lasted four rounds, I was exhausted. On your feet for five or six hours a day for five days was very difficult. It was about 18 months.
Naturally, playing successful golf after such an ordeal would be difficult. But being a rookie on the Champions Tour in 2004, it was almost impossible to think he could win.
I knew it would be tough to win, he said. I was under no illusions, absolutely. These days, there are good players on every tour and every tournament. If you win in America or Europe, you've beaten a strong field. There is more depth than I thought on this tour.
I knew there was good players and I had a lot of respect for them, but there is still more depth than I expected.
Of course, once he recovered from the cancer, there were still the normal aches and pains to worry about. A knee operation, for example, plagued him before the Ford Seniors victory.
'I tore the meniscus, and I realized I couldn't play anymore, so I had the operation,' said James. 'I was organized to see the Miami Dolphins' surgeon.
'He fast-tracked me and did the operation that Friday after, and then I ended up in Mexico I think for three weeks after the operation, which is great. They were really helpful. The doctor, surgeon, was brilliant. It was really good of him.'
The victory was a near impossibility, James figured.
'This is the biggest win of my career, without question,' James said. 'To win a major, it's incredible. This is definitely the biggest win of my career.'
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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.