The Reluctant Return

By Randall MellMay 6, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
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.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.