Golfers Who Give Back: Michael J. Fox

By Golf DigestNovember 30, 2012, 7:25 pm

Of all the golf lovers in this collection of game changers, Michael J. Fox might be the biggest giver. In 12 years, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has directed about $300 million to research on the disease. 'We have no agenda other than to cure this,' says, Fox, 51, the 'Back to the Future' star who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and announced it in 1998. Fox still loves to make people laugh, and he cracks up when recalling his start as a golfer in the early to mid-2000s, when his 'golf uncles' would urge him to stay still over the ball. 'Be still over the ball?' he'd say. 'If I could be still over my soup, I'd be happy.'

Q: It's been more than 20 years since your diagnosis. How are you doing?

A: I've been feeling pretty good lately and felt like I could work a bit more, so I did 'The Good Wife,' and I did an episode on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' and I've been speaking around the country and connecting with folks in a way I haven't since I did 'Spin City' and the 'Back to the Future' movies and 'Family Ties.'

Golfers Who Give Back: Bill Clinton | Michael Phelps | Morgan Freeman

Q: Next is a sitcom for NBC, for fall 2013, loosely based on your life.

A: And I'm sure my character will be a golfer, and golf will be featured.

Q: We loved your willingness to display the effects of Parkinson's with Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'

A: When you have a disability, you have two things to deal with: your own experience, and everyone else's attitude toward your experience. That's what was fun about 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' It was kind of like saying, Look, I know what I've got, and I know how to deal with it. I appreciate your support and concern, but I'm OK. I have a great family and a great life, and while I'm working toward a cure, I accept and understand my condition. But acceptance doesn't mean resignation. I can deal with the facts of it, but beyond that, I have a life to live.

Q: And golf has become a big part of your life.

A: I remember walking the course a few times with my dad when I was probably 5 or 6. I didn't play; he brought me to find balls. I'd scramble into the bushes that no one else would get into and get scratched by briars and bitten by bugs.

Q: You played hockey and lacrosse growing up in Canada. Why not golf?

A: I didn't have the wherewithal to play. There was no First Tee, and I wasn't from a well-off background. The money I did save for recreational sports I put into hockey and skiing. Then in my 20s, I had this kind of contemporary actors' attitude about golf that, There's plenty of time for golf - when I'm dead.

Q: But you picked it up.

A: Tiger was a big part of it, and Annika Sorenstam was really an inspiration. When she played in that first men's event, I thought, Wow! This is cool. This is a sport for risk-takers.

Q: How did you start?

A: I have these guys I call my 'golf uncles.' People like Tim Simpson, Cam Neely - and my friend Ted Davis, who would bring me out when it was embarrassing. But he persevered until I had a game when I could tee off at the first tee and actually get on the green in two. I said to my wife, Tracy, 'I've been thinking about all of my golf uncles and how they put up with me when I couldn't play that well. And, now, finally, I can play a little bit and it's great, and she goes, 'Yeah, they're crack dealers - and they got you addicted!'

Q: How well can you play with Parkinson's?

A: I'm a horrible golfer. [Laughs.] I've been so lucky to be celebrated for what I do and really kind of humbled about that. It's great to do something where I really suck. My best score for 18 holes is 46 out and 46 in, and I'm a 22-handicap.

My friend Clark Gregg, from the 'Avenger' movies, has a great description of me teeing off: He says I look like I'm between two subway cars with a foot on each platform. Then he says, 'And you hit the ball 220 yards, and I don't know how you do it.'

Q: How tired are you after walking 18 holes?

A: Oh, I'm on an IV! [Laughs.] It's hard for me to walk because I get too tired, but I got to play the National [Golf Links of America] this summer, and I had to walk. When I got off the 18th, I couldn't lift my Arnold Palmer.

Q: Do Tracy, your son or three daughters play?

A: There's a theater named after me in Burnaby, British Columbia, and they have a tournament I play in with my brother and his son. My son came last time; my sister who passed away used to play with us. My mom is 82 years old, and she was in the golf cart, and we got to where we weren't going to win, so we were just having fun. Anytime our putt was within 12 feet, we'd have my mom come out and putt it. And she drained six in a row! I've got pictures of us falling on the ground. It was hilarious.

Q: You watch a lot of golf. Who's your favorite?

A: Tiger. Ever since he was a kid. Rory is pretty exciting to watch, and I definitely root for Phil, too. But anytime anyone's been through something, whether they brought it on themselves or whatever, I love to watch them come back. I know what it's like to be 22 years old and go from just being a kid to having a Ferrari and girlfriends all over the place, and you can't pay for dinner in a restaurant. It's heavy stuff and hard to handle.

Q: What about your foundation makes you the most proud?

A: I always say when people affected by Parkinson's wake up in the morning and say, 'Who's trying to find a cure for this? We are!' What's been really impressive to me is people with Parkinson's who say, 'I hid this until you came out, but now when people ask me, 'What do you have?' and I say 'Parkinson's,' they say, 'Oh, like Michael Fox.' ' Now I feel like I belong to something. I'm not alone.

Q: Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, are helping in huge ways.

A: Sergey and Anne have been tremendously generous. Sergey has a connection to one of the genes that's an indicator Parkinson's is possible in that family, so he and Anne set up a challenge fund where for every dollar we raise from new donors through Dec. 31 this year, they'll match it. Nike auctioned off a limited series of the Mag shoes from 'Back to the Future II' on eBay, and we raised over $4 million. Sergey and Anne matched it, and it turned into almost $10 million.

Q: What can readers do?

A: One of the huge needs is for people to get involved with clinical trials. I'm talking about people who have Parkinson's and, especially, people who don't have Parkinson's. If you're a male in your 40s or 50s, this is a group we really need to tap into. If you want to do something good and feel good about yourself, check into the clinical trials at

Interview conducted by Craig Bestrom; Click here to visit

Photography by Walter Iooss Jr.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”