Notes Injured Hand Big Heart for Cayeux


AKRON, Ohio -- Marc Cayeux wanted to play all 18 holes Thursday at the NEC Invitational, although he fully expected to quit midway through the round whenever his injured left hand began bleeding.
It turned into a dream day at Firestone.
The 27-year-old golfer from Zimbabwe overcame nerves at the start, an embarrassing moment on his 16th hole and a painful wound on the spot he grips the club to post a 1-over 71.
Marc Cayeux
Despite a serious injury to one of his hands, Marc Cayeux was able to play all 18 holes with playing partner Tiger Woods on Thursday.
Cayeux not only played with Tiger Woods, he had the world's No. 1 player as a caddie.
He finished his round by nearly chipping in from behind the ninth green. Woods walked over and tended the flag as Cayeux tapped in.
``If you had said I would be 3 or 4 over par, I would have taken it,'' Cayeux said.
Woods sounded more impressed with Cayeux's round than his own 66 that gave him a share of the lead.
``Incredible. Absolutely incredible,'' Woods said. ``The fact that he went out there and played, and grinded it out like he did was absolutely fantastic. It was fun to watch. He had a hard time hanging onto the club, but he gutted it out.''
Cayeux, who qualified by winning the Vodacom Tour Championship on the South African tour, burned his hand last week lighting a barbecue grill and played with an open wound the size of a nickel.
He wore a glove that baseball catchers typically have under their mitts, with extra padding at the base of the fingers, and his bandage was changed after he had played four holes.
And then there was the nerves playing with Woods.
Cayeux watched the world's No. 1 player rip his opening tee shot 305 yards down the middle of the 10th fairway. He could barely contain a grin, then turned to his caddie and whispered.
``That was an eye-opener,'' he said. ``The main thing is not to try to imitate him.''
Cayeux saved himself with par-saving putts on eight of nine holes, and a sand wedge into 6 feet for birdie on his 10th hole. He seemed to settle down, but had a jarring moment on the par-3 seventh.
When he went to mark his ball on the green, he noticed the words ``PRACTICE'' written on the side.
A ball from the driving range somehow wound up in his bag. Cayeux summoned Woods and Niclas Fasth, then a rules official. Because it was the same ball he had been playing, there was no penalty.
He pulled out a regular ball on the next tee, marked it with two yellow dots, then turned to Woods with a smile and said, ``This one is not a practice ball,'' as both players broke down in laughter.
Cayeux's score left him in a tie for 23rd in the 72-man field.
Graeme McDowell injured muscles around his spine when he was in a car accident last month, and he nearly withdrew from the PGA Championship last week.
He tried to play again at the NEC Invitational, and lasted 13 holes before he pulled out.
``I'm certainly on the road to recovery, but I'm just not quite on top of my body right now,'' McDowell said. I just need a rest, and it needs a bit of work.''
McDowell still gets last-place money of $30,000 that counts toward the European tour money list.
Vijay Singh looked uncomfortable at times Thursday, for good reason.
``Just a little stiff in the lower back, but nothing that a good night's rest won't sort out,'' Singh said through a PGA Tour media official. ``I've been stiff for a whole week, but it's getting better.''
Singh's knee was sore at the Canadian Open last year, and he went on to beat Mike Weir in a playoff.
The Fijian, angered by stories about him last week at the PGA Championship, declined to meet with the media after his round and spoke only to ESPN.
Davis Love III is trying to put last week behind him, but it wasn't easy. He shot 74 in the final round of the PGA Championship to finish two shots behind Phil Mickelson, missing birdie chances on the last four holes.
``What frustrates me about the whole thing is I never hit the 18th fairway,'' Love said of the 554-yard par 5, the easiest hole at Baltusrol. ``That's what kills me. You've got the easiest hole on the golf course, and I put it in the bunker every day.''
Thomas Bjorn finished one shot behind Mickelson when his 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole rimmed out of the cup, leaving the Dane temporarily stunned.
But he got over it quickly.
``I take a lot of positives from that, but I also realize that we've got to go on from there,'' Bjorn said after a 70. ``Last week is over with and it didn't turn out the way we wanted, but it turned out in a good way. So we'll go from here and try and win some golf tournaments.''
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