Good News at Last

By Pat PerezMay 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is a weekly chronicle of the life and times of PGA TOUR star Pat Perez. Visit his website at www.PatPerezGolf.com for Pat's daily blog, music-fueled photo galleries, online store and more.
 
Hey Everyone, Double P checking in. I just got back home after a few days down south. I headed out to John Dalys 40th birthday bash in Dardanelle, AR, and then swung through Birmingham, AL, to see a specialist and get a second opinion on my injured elbow.
 
I left for Dardanelle last Thursday and had a great time celebrating with JD and the crew. When I say crew, I literally mean the entire city of Dardanelle. The guy is an absolute hero there. Everyone loves him and whoever he brings into the fold. I guess a lot of those folks saw me on the Daly Planet because they all knew who I was. I was more recognized in Dardanelle than I am at the average Tour event. It was crazy insane.
 
Dalys spot there, the Lions Den, is walking distance from his house and right on the course. His brother Jamie owns another local spot ' Dalys Downtown. Great BBQ.
 
Saturday we all watched the NFL Draft on the bus. Pretty safe to say we were all shocked Reggie Bush went No. 2. I was also surprised Matt Leinart dropped. Arizona will be a good fit for him. The new stadium is almost good to go and with Edgerrin James in the backfield, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin at receiver, Leinart fell into a pretty good situation with the Cardinals.
 
I drove over to Birmingham on Monday to get my long-awaited second opinion on the elbow. Thankfully, things are finally looking up and I am planning on heading to Dallas next week for the Byron Nelson Classic. I love playing in that tournament and hope to pick up where I left off after the PLAYERS. I still cant believe how long its been since Ive played. It feels like forever.
 
The verdict on the elbow is that I have somewhat of a pinched nerve near or around the tendon. I needed a Cortisone shot to numb the pain and a day later I am actually feeling a million times better. The MRI was negative and no surgery is required. I am going to rest and rehab the remainder of this week and Ill head to Dallas on Sunday, most likely. My good bud Tommy Armour III throws a pretty fun bash the week of the Byron Nelson and since hes never missed my Phoenix Open party, I definitely have to get out to his gig this week.
 
Like last week, both www.PatPerezGolf.com and my MySpace.com profile page have been receiving a lot of questions about my elbow, my game, my bikes and whatever else Ive been up to these past few off weeks.
 
A few folks asked when I first started seeing my scores drop - 100, 90, 80, par, etc. I really had to rack the brain here. I was competing in San Diego Junior Golf tournaments as far back as 7 or 8 years old and was winning a lot of those tourneys. I won the 1993 Junior World Golf Championship and for the past two years have co-sponsored the Pat Perez Tournament of Champions for the SDJGA.
 
Regarding exactly when I broke those monumental numbers, I cant really remember. I havent shot 100 in probably 25 years or so and believe I was breaking par for the first time somewhere between 9 or 10. Id have to ask my dad about some of that stuff. He keeps all the old newspaper and magazine clippings from back in the day.
 
Someone else asked if I go out at night during tournament days and if so, have I overdone it and paid the price the next day.
 
Not in a long while. Maybe a few times earlier in my career. Im sure some Tour guys can tell you about some rowdy nights we all had on the Buy.com Tour (Nationwide).
 
These days its all business Wednesday night through Sunday afternoon. Especially now. I spent my entire off season in 2005 at Athletes Performance here in Scottsdale working out nonstop. I was eating right, getting enough sleep and dedicated my entire off season to getting stronger, building up my stamina and working on my game. To play a tournament round having overdone it the night before and shoot poorly? Its not an option right now. I want my first win. Until then, theres really nothing to be celebrating.
 
Ill have a good time with friends and go out during an off week. During a tournament week its golf, working out, stretching, dinner and to bed early. If a bunch of us do rally and go out, its on Monday or Tuesday. Thats really it.
 
The final question this week is about my clubs. Someone asked how often I get them tweaked or worked on during the season.
 
Im a big fan of, If it aint broke ' dont fix it. I try not to mess with my equipment unless necessary. Ill probably have my clubs checked every three or four month regarding the lie and the loft, new grips, etc. Thats it. I may go back and forth between a few different putters, but regarding tweaking the equipment ' I avoid it as much as possible and try not to overthink things.
 
Off to Dallas in a few days and gearing up for the Byron Nelson. Looks like the Spikes Up column will finally get back to some actual life on the road and golf stuff.
 
Double P
 
Email your question for a future column to cb@patperezgolf.com
 
Pat Perez is in the midst of his fifth season on the PGA Tour. 'Double P' earned his PGA Tour card as the Q-School Medalist in 2001 and was part of the 1996 NCAA National Championship golf team at Arizona State University. Visit Pat at his website www.patperezgolf.com
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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.