ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The golf course is Jon Vanpoucke’s sanctuary, but Lori Vida is his life.
Sit with the former Marine for just a moment and it’s clear that he loves the game. But it’s more apparent that his wife is the reason he wakes up in the morning.
The 35-year-old, who served time overseas in the Gulf War, has both arms tattooed with reminders of Lori, especially the left arm where there is a striking image of his wife with rosary beads next to her. His left ring finger doesn’t have a wedding band, but it simply says “LORI.”
If ever anyone was dealt a difficult hand in life, it’s Lori Vida, although you’ll find a tough time getting her or anyone in her family to complain about the situation. In a nutshell, the 40-year-old who once was a famous hair model, a real mover and shaker in the San Diego area, is sick.
She has hepatitis C, stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and is a diabetic. She takes 21 pills a day (14 in the morning, seven in the evening) and checks her blood sugar at least three times a day.
“To be hit with all of this at once is difficult, but she’s a fighter, always has been,” Vanpoucke said Monday in the clubhouse of St. Johns Golf & Country Club after shooting 88 in the second round of the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship. Vanpoucke shot 90 Sunday in the first round at World Golf Village and is playing in the Palmer Flight for handicaps between 4-7.9.
There are so many different legs to this story that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
The couple met six years ago in a La Jolla, Calif., bar and hit it off right away. Vanpoucke sensed that he had met this woman before and it hit him. She was the same girl who, 17 years prior, kicked him and his buddies out of their beach party because they were too young and not part of the “in” crowd. They married a year after they met.
Over the next four years, Vanpoucke found himself in the emergency room more than 15 times because Lori was ill and would often vomit blood. What they discovered what that Lori was born with the hepatitis C virus because her mother, Margaret, needed a blood transfusion nearly 50 years prior when she was in a severe car accident with a drunk driver. Her mother had contracted hepatitis C and it was passed onto Lori at birth.
It wasn’t much longer until Lori Vida was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
So Vanpoucke and Vida visited a San Diego-area Scripps Clinic for specialized care. She was told that she wouldn’t live much longer than another five years.
The couple decided to live life to its fullest. Vanpoucke left his job and they took trips around the world, their favorite place being Portugal where they wanted to buy property and live. But the second time they visited Portugal Lori got sick and was in a hospital for a month.
When they returned to the states, Vanpoucke did more research and decided that the best treatment his wife could receive would be at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. So, two years ago, the two lifelong San Diego natives moved to a place they never thought they’d live.
“It was a drastic change,” Vanpoucke said.
Earlier this year was when Vida was told she was a type 2 diabetic and five months ago physicians found a pea-sized cancerous spot on her liver. They told her to return three months later for another cancer checkup and this time, it had grown to the size of a quarter.
There is hope and there is a plan. The Marine and his bride would have it no other way.
Beginning Oct. 6, Vida will enter an intense two-week testing program at the Mayo Clinic which will essentially ensure that she moves to the top of the liver transplant list. Vanpoucke has been told that the latest they could expect the liver transplant would be March 2011. The earliest would be at the beginning of the year.
“We’re not going to conquer it all when the transplant happens,” Vanpoucke says. “But at least we’ll be halfway through the battle.”
Seeing some of the finances whittle away, Vanpoucke now works part-time at a local Home Depot and works late Monday-Friday evening so he can still have each day to spend with his wife and take her to her numerous appointments.
Earlier this year was when Vanpoucke got the golf bug again. He has played golf since he was 4-years-old and was once a teaching professional who played to a scratch handicap, but time off to care for his wife had him rusty. He’s far from a scratch golfer now but made a deal with Lori that he’ll take one day a week to practice and play golf. So he joined the Twin Cities Amateur Tour this summer and qualified for the National Championship this week in Florida.
Lori Vida is in San Diego visiting with her father and her oldest brother this week, which pleases Vanpoucke knowing that his “princess” is being cared for. At first he was happy that she didn’t make the trip with him to Florida, but now, he’s a tad sad because she’s all he thinks about.
“I’m a blessed to be able to take care of a beautiful woman, but when I get out to the golf course it’s my passion and it’s where I can be who I am,” Vanpoucke said. “Golf brings me great balance in my life.”
Great balance in a life that has been quite a rollercoaster the past six years.
To Live and Love
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The golf course is Jon Vanpoucke’s sanctuary, but Lori Vida is his life.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.