McGann Optimistic But Diabetes a Constant Reminder
No surprise there. Shes 78th on the LPGA money list. Only 12 Americans are selected, and the list doesnt reach down nearly as far as 78th. It looks more and more like the Solheim of 96, when McGann played a key role in winning the Cup in Wales, will have no more chapters.
That was the year the Americans trailed Europe, 9-7, going into Sundays singles. But in the third singles match, McGann defeated Europes top player, Laura Davies, 3 and 2. Davies had blown through the Yanks by a combined 16-hole difference and was playing before a hugely enthusiastic home crowd as a bonus. But McGanns 3-wood on the par-3 16th rolled to within four feet of the flag and ended the match with an explanation point. America went on to win 10 of 12 points in the singles matches and came home with a 17-11 victory.
That was supposed to be the 26-year-olds first in a long series of important victories, not the last. But by the time the 98 matches rolled around, a 28-year-old McGann had slipped to 45th on the money list and was not chosen. McGann was 30 in 2000 and finished down in the 31st spot ' not nearly good enough for a selection. And this year, as a 32-year-old, she checks in at No. 78. Thats far too low for Solheim consideration.
McGann, you see, has diabetes. She knew it when she turned professional at the age of 19, electing to forego a college career because she knew she had better play professionally while she could. She had a wonderful career from 92 until 97, never finishing below 18th.
But since then, McGann has had numerous health problems. Shes well set financially with $3.2 million in tour earnings alone and probably at least that much in endorsements. But its tough to be only 32 and, apparently, have your best years behind you.
Michelle had a 67 in a tournament a couple of weeks ago and talked excitedly about how this might be the start of something big again. She had a new putter and it had really helped.
But Friday, it was back to the on-again, off-again golf game as she signed for a 72, then Saturday it was the same old grind with a score of 75. Sunday she showed a little spark of the old form with a 69, but it was another tournament outside the top 20, another day of hoping and praying that she could cope with the frustrations of diabetes.
You start having self-doubt, as in any profession, she said. Ive fought diabetes, everyday - its a fight. Its not a disease you have control over. You have a 500 blood sugar one day and you have to deal with it.
Yesterday it was very hot and there are a few hills out there, and I didnt even realize my blood sugar was getting high and I ate all day. But today I only had a peanut butter sandwich. Its difficult with adrenaline, too. You can let it beat you up or you can get out and fight it.
Shes fought it a long time now. The invention of the insulin pump was a blessing. McGann started using it three or four years ago, and it has helped her keep playing.
It is a pump in my stomach that gives me a constant flow of insulin 24 hours a day, she explained. It helps me be able to keep my blood sugar level. I count the carbohydrates in food and look at what I eat, and instead of taking shots, it is always with me. This insulin is fast acting.
Ive talked to doctors and its a fine line. Adrenaline sometimes shoots it up, but it doesnt affect it all the time. Being dehydrated is a huge factor. When I have high blood sugar, I have headaches, but with the pump my blood sugar stays level.
Still, the diabetes is there, an omnipresent reminder that golf for her could end at any time. Every day is a battle, with McGann struggling to stay positive.
I try to be, said Michelle, but its very frustrating. I had a lot of good goals set for this year, and I felt great starting the year with my health. There is an occasional day when I want to throw the insulin pump and never have diabetes again. I really hope I see the cure someday and dont have to worry about it anymore.
But the insulin pump is wonderful, and its so much easier to manage your own shots. The heat affects me more, especially when I get dehydrated. I think that feeling good with my health all year keep has kept me positive. If my blood sugar is low then high, its hard to adjust.
McGann is fighting two fights. The first, with her fellow LPGA pros, is a struggle to make a living. The other one, far more serious, is with the diabetes. She might be slowly losing the first, but she is winning the second. And really, that is all that matters.
Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause
AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.
The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.
“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”
Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.
As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.
“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”
Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid
AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.
Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.
“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”
Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.
“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”
Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.
“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”
This week, let the games(manship) begin
AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.
What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.
During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.
“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”
Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.
“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].
Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.
Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.
“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”
Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.
“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”
While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.
But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.
“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”
It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”
McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”
It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.
“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.
Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.
Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana
While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.
The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.
"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."
Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.
According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."
"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."
Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.
Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.
"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."
Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.