The Reluctant Return - COPIED

By Randall MellMay 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Its golfs great X factor.
 
You never really know whats going on in a players personal life and the impact its having on his game.
 
You can watch a struggling Tour pro hit shot after shot and never see whats ailing him.
 
2008 Players Championship
Paul Goydos congratulates Sergio Garcia after their battle in 2008. (Getty Images)
No matter how good the grip, or perfect the swing plane, shots dont always fly straight when something internals misaligned.
 
The heart is the most mysterious component of the swing.
 
Almost four months after his ex-wifes death, Paul Goydos returns to The Players Championship this week a different man than the one who won a legion of new fans with his unexpected run at the title a year ago.
 
His former wife, Wendy, who struggled with addiction after resorting to illegal drugs to help her deal with debilitating migraines, died on Jan. 17. Goydos was told she died after taking something to ward off the pain, though he still hasnt seen the toxicology reports to know the exact cause. He said telling his two daughters was the most difficult thing hes ever done.
 
Obviously, its been a tough year on my kids, Goydos said. Theyre handling it. Im proud of the way theyve handled it, for lack of a better word. Theyre enjoying and appreciating the time they had with their mother and not dwelling on the time they dont have. Thats a sign of the parenting their mother did for them.
 
Goydos, 44, a two-time PGA Tour winner, gained full custody of his two daughters, Chelsea, 18, and Courtney, 16, in 2003. A former substitute teacher, he took the following year off, helping in his girls classrooms, taking them to the mall and becoming more integrally involved in their lives.
 
The devoted father story gained new legs when Goydos stepped into the underdog role as the 54-hole leader at The Players a year ago. The wit, charm and deadpan sense of humor that Goydos fellow Tour pros know so well was unveiled to a national audience that would fall in love with Goydos almost overnight.
 
When it was pointed out that he had never held the lead after 54 holes of a PGA Tour event, Goydos didnt miss a beat.
 
Yeah, but Ive only been on Tour for 16 years, he said.
 
When NBCs Bob Costas asked Goydos how he would sleep on the eve of the final round, Goydos quipped: On my back.
 
There was more witty repartee that made Goydos the peoples favorite in a Sunday duel with Sergio Garcia. In the end, though, Garcia prevailed, defeating Goydos on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after Goydos hit his tee shot in the water at the famed 17th island hole.
 
Even in the loss, Goydos said the final-round support was so overwhelming he walked away with a sense of what it must feel like to be Tiger Woods.
 
In that loss, Goydos gained more acclaim and favor than he did in his two victories.
 
Its almost not comparable, the difference between finishing second at that event as opposed to winning Bay Hill [in 1996] or the Sony Open [in 2007], Goydos said.
 
That loss, though, thrust Goydos vigorously into the life of a public figure.
 
Its a role that troubles him with his return to The Players, including his wifes death as the tragic new chapter in his life.
 
I really struggle with how public I want this story to be, Goydos said.
 
Goydos said hes speaking up to set the record straight about the life Wendy lived, not just the death she experienced. You hear guilt in his voice when he tells her story. You hear how he lumps himself in with the folks who make harsh judgments about the plight of substance abusers.
 
I want people to understand this is someone who tried not to be an addict, Goydos said. This is someone who battled a health problem that got away from her and just beat her. Im just as guilty as everybody else is about being judgmental on this issue. Im not saying I didnt do the exact same thing. This is a disease much more serious than I thought.
 
Goydos said the passing of time has only brought that point home to him, how he didnt empathize enough with his wifes fight.
 
The more I think about it, the more tragic it becomes, he said.
 
Goydos has missed the cut in six of 10 starts since he learned of his wifes death, but he wont blame it on a misaligned heart.
 
Everyone has their own sets of worries, Goydos said. Some may be greater at times than others, but everyone deals with that. It doesnt matter if youre a professional golfer or a writer or a lawyer or what have you.
 
Tiger Woods took nine weeks off after the death of his father, Earl, three years ago and struggled upon his return at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Robert Allenby struggled with the death of his mother this winter. Ernie Els is dealing with his sons autism. The personal struggles of countless other Tour pros have never come to light.
 
Obviously, those things bother you, Goydos said. For me to say Ive played poorly because of whats happened, thats not really fair to the other people who have beat me every single week, because they have problems, too. We all have our level of problems, and for certain people it may be more difficult from year to year, but the reality is we all go through the same things eventually.
 
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."