Tackling Another Major - COPIED

By Randall MellJune 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Helen Alfredsson cant always contain her giant spirit.
 
Sometimes it leaps about so raucously that her body has no choice but to follow.
 
Thats what happened at Stanleys Tavern in Wilmington, Del., after she finished fifth at the McDonalds LPGA Championship in her rookie season.
 
Les Dukart, whose family owns eight McDonalds restaurants, and his wife, Barbara, have invited Alfredsson into their home for championship week for the past 18 years as a host family. If they didnt glimpse Alfredssons determination playing the event that rookie season, they saw it afterward in the tavern after Dukart picked up the $63 check.
 
Helen Alfredsson
Helen Alfredsson has three consecutive top-15 finishes on the LPGA. (Getty Images)
Helen won a lot of money that week, and she insisted she was going to pay the tab, Dukart said. Pretty soon, shes chasing me around the table in the middle of a restaurant full of people.
 
Alfredsson tackled Dukart, laid him out flat with tavern patrons gaping and pried the bar tab away.
 
Thats Helen, said Barbara Dukart. Shes a firecracker.
 
The Swedish firecracker may have worked as a Parisian model at one time, but she also went on to race dragsters, ride Harley Davidsons and fly with the Blue Angels.
 
Alfredssons giant spirit literally left its mark on the Dukart home. She was like an adopted teenage daughter in a grown-ups body.
 
Helen used to work on her swing in our family room, Barbara said. Les would tell her, Helen, dont swing the club in the house . . . dont swing the club in the house . . . dont swing the club in the house. Of course, she would anyway.
 
With Les away one morning, Alfredsson got carried away with her follow through and took a divot out of the family-room ceiling.
 
She came running upstairs, all hysterical, speaking in Swedish, and I dont speak Swedish, Barbara said. I finally got her to speak English, and she said she wanted whiteout. She got some whiteout to cover it up, but, unfortunately, the ceiling was beige.
 
After Alfredsson left at weeks end, Dukart had a sign maker create a bulls-eye, forever identifying the divot as Alfredssons work. He attached the sign to his ceiling. It was there when Alfredsson returned the following year.
 
When the McDonalds LPGA week arrives, its like the circus coming to town, Barbara said. With Helen here, my house is ground zero.
 
Alfredsson, 44, is back with the Dukarts for the final week of the McDonalds LPGA Championship. The event is moving away next year as the LPGA seeks a new title sponsor and a new venue.
 
Over the years, the Dukarts have had special insight into the crazy ups and downs of Alfredssons career. Like so many of Alfredssons friends, theyre moved by her revival. Shes back as the most unlikely favorite with a chance to add to her seven LPGA titles.
 
Two years ago, it looked as if Alfredssons playing days were near an end. The pain that had followed her most of her career got to be too much to bear and she shut down her American season before June, skipping the McDonalds LPGA Championship. She teed it up just 11 times that season, recording no top-10 finishes.
 
Alfredssons career looked as if it would end as European captain at the Solheim Cup near the finish of the 2007 season.
 
We thought she was going to have to retire, Les Dukart said. Weve seen her in a lot of pain during McDonalds week over the years. My wifes taken her to doctors before.
 
Back in 1985, Alfredsson broke a bone in her pelvis and endured 11 years of various levels of discomfort before undergoing surgery. She also detached her left hamstring in college, though she didnt know for a decade just how badly that injury had impacted the rest of her body. She never completely shook the pain through the years. She would go from good days to bad days to worse days. At one point, she lost the feeling in her right leg. She went through that disappointing 07 season with a tingling sensation and loss of strength in her right hand.
 
Two years ago, I couldnt grip the club firmly, Alfredsson said. I was a pretty good iron player, but I was hitting iron shots 40, 50, 60 yards off line.
 
Finally, after her Solheim Cup captaincy, Alfredsson was diagnosed with a herniated disc in her neck. She began a new rehabilitation program focused on relieving the pressure on her neck and the nerves that were being assaulted there. Though she missed five of the first six cuts last season, she could feel the pain easing, her body regaining strength and the freedom in her swing returning.
 
The shattered pieces of her game came fusing back together at the U.S. Womens Open at Interlachen during the end of last June. She finished second. A month later, she won the Evian Masters, her first LPGA victory in five years. Three months after that, she won the Grand China Air LPGA.
 
With five finishes of 14th or better this season, Alfredsson arrives for the McDonalds LPGA Championship as a legitimate contender to add a second major championship to her resume. She won the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1993.
 
Helens a tough cookie, said Kent Nilsson, her husband, who knows something about toughness as a former NHL player. I wouldnt be surprised if she wins another major.
 
Alfredsson is thrilled people think shes capable again.
 
For so long, I thought about wanting to win again, Alfredsson said. When I was not feeling good, I thought, if I could just win again, I would be happy. Thats not really the way it is now. Winnings a bonus. Playing well, being able to hit good shots, its amazing.
 
Alfredssons revival is so complete shes poised to deliver a first in Solheim Cup history. Typically, being named captain is a sign that a players career is over. None of the 12 past captains of the American and European teams has ever gone on after serving to make another team as a player. Alfredssons poised to become the first when the matches are played Aug. 21-23 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. Shes a lock to make the team based on her position as the second highest ranked European in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings. Shes No. 9, trailing only No. 6 Suzann Pettersen.
 
At the Kapalua LPGA Classic at the end of last season, Alfredsson showed just how far shes come back. She knocked a drive past the youthful and long-hitting Yani Tseng. Stunned, Tseng checked her ball twice, not believing hers was the short ball in the fairway.
 
As Tseng checked her balls marking, Alfredsson walked by.
 
Look at that, Alfredsson said. Grandma hit it past you.
 
Tseng laughed.
 
Helen likes to tease, Tseng said. She is fun.
 
When Alfredssons having this much fun, shes dangerous. Men get tackled, ceilings get busted and trophies get claimed.
 
I think one of the hardest things for an athlete is to finish their careers injured, Alfredsson said. After last year, I felt so happy, so extremely grateful that I was able to show it wasnt my fault.
 
Alfredsson was grateful she could show her body really had been holding her back, and that shes once more free to tackle lifes challenges (and Les Dukart, if she likes).
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.