Faxon Tears Knee Ligaments
Faxon was working out in the basement of his Rhode Island home when he landed awkwardly on a medicine ball. His ankle went to the left, his knee went to the right.
He thought surgery might be the only option, which Faxon said would have kept him off the PGA Tour until June.
Since then, he has consulted with Scott Waugh, a physical therapist who works with the Boston Bruins, and five top doctors who have recommended rehab first.
'Most of them agree the best thing is to strengthen it to see if I can play,' Faxon said. 'That would be protocol anyway, to strengthen, if you're going to have surgery. But I want to give playing a shot. I don't think anyone on the tour has ever done this.'
Tiger Woods missed five weeks at the start of this year while recovering from knee surgery, but that was only to remove fluid and benign cysts around the ligaments.
Faxon said he is walking without much of a limp, and he's been swinging a club in his basement the last few days.
'The real test is whether I can hit balls and walk up and down the hills and play,' he said.
His plan is to skip the Sony Open, where he won in 2001, and start in Phoenix.
'I believe I'll know before Phoenix whether I can do it,' said Faxon, who plans to go to Florida in January to practice.
PRESSURE MOMENT: Tiger Woods faced a tricky 15-foot par putt with the Presidents Cup on the line. Two days later, he had to utter the four most important words in his life -- will you marry me?
Which situation made him more nervous?
'The words,' Woods said. 'I've made championship putts before, but I've never had to do that before.'
Woods proposed to Elin Nordegren on Nov. 25 during a safari in South Africa. He became increasingly animated just reliving the proposal during a news conference Tuesday.
'Even if you say it right, even if you say it absolutely perfectly -- those four words -- you can always get denied,' he said. 'If you hit a great putt in a tournament, and you know it's in, it's not going to lip out. It's amazing how many different things go through your mind at that moment.'
Did he rehearse what he was going to say?
'Oh, yeah,' Woods said. 'It's obviously a big step in my life. I've been lucky to have met the right person for me. You don't want to blow a special moment like that, have it come off totally wrong -- in golf terms, just yip it.
'You want to say it just perfect, and it came out good.'
Woods said they have not set a wedding date.
MASTERS MENU: Masters champion Mike Weir says Canadian beer will be flowing at the Champions Dinner at Augusta National next April.
As for the food? That remains undecided.
'I've been kicking around a few ideas,' Weir said. 'My mom cooks some awesome Italian food. My wife is Mexican and I love that. But Italian food and Mexican food is probably not a good combination. I'll probably have to pick one or the other.'
WOMEN RULE: During a year in which seven women competed on men's tours around the world, one of the most impressive feats came from Yuri Fudo.
She captured her fourth straight money title on the Japanese LPGA Tour this year. What makes her accomplishment notable is that Fudo earned more money than Toshi Izawa, who won the money title on the men's Japanese tour.
It was the first time in Japan that a woman earned more than a man for one season.
Fudo won 10 of 24 tournaments to make more than 149 million yen ($1.38 million). Izawa won two of the 22 events he played, and his worldwide earnings were just over 135 million yen ($1.26 million).
'It's not because of me that this happened,' Izawa said. 'Ms. Fudo deserves a warm round of applause for winning 10 tournaments.'
DIVOTS: Mark O'Meara was sporting a new look on the greens Tuesday -- the claw putting grip. O'Meara, one of the best putters in golf, had been struggling with the yips the past few months. ... Robert Allenby's victory in the Australian Masters improved his career record to 8-0 in playoffs. That includes three of his four PGA Tour victories.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods had a career-high 299.5 yards in average driving distance, but this was the first year he finished out of the top 10.
FINAL WORD: 'I don't look at it as last place. I look at it as fourth.' -- British Open champion Ben Curtis, who finished fourth among the four major winners at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Kerr blows big lead, heads into Kia Sunday one back
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr blew a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Kia Classic to set up a final-round showdown at Aviara Golf Club.
A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to open the big lead, Kerr had a 75 to drop a stroke behind playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim. Kerr was tied with Caroline Hedwall, Wei-Ling Hsu and Cindy LaCrosse, and four players were another shot back.
The 40-year-old Kerr had a double bogey on the par-4 15th after snap-hooking a drive into the trees. The 2015 winner at Aviara, she also had two bogeys and two birdies.
Ji had a 67 to match Salas (69) and Kim (69) at 11-under 205. Salas had a chance to pull away, but missed birdie putts of 1 1/2 feet on the short par-4 16th and 2 1/2 feet on the par-5 17th.
Anna Nordqvist had a 66 to top the group at 9 under.
Match Play Final Four set to bring the excitement
AUSTIN, Texas – Sunday’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will include a pair of Georgia Bulldogs, a two-and-done phenom from Alabama and a Swede from Stockholm via Stillwater, that would be Oklahoma.
Just like that other tournament, right?
Actually, for all the volatility in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s not even in the same league as this year’s Match Play, where just a single player who began the week seeded inside the top 10 is still playing.
But what the event may lack in star power it’s certainly made up for with stellar performances, starting with Justin Thomas who is the PGA Tour’s most avid Alabama fan and the tournament’s second-seeded player.
After not losing a match in three days of pool play, Thomas again cruised through his morning Round-of-16 bout with Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5; but found himself in an unfamiliar position early in his quarterfinal match against Kyle Stanley.
Having not trailed during any point in his matches this week, Thomas bogeyed the second hole to fall behind.
“I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that [2017 champion Dustin Johnson] did it last year,” Thomas said. “I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, ‘Man, I have got a chance of doing this, too.’ Then I missed a 3-footer on 2 and shot that out the window.”
The world’s second-ranked player was nearly perfect the rest of the way, regaining the lead with three birdies in four holes starting at No. 5 and closing Stanley out with a bogey-free finish.
It’s all part of an impressive turnaround for Thomas, who had been slowed in recent weeks by dental surgery followed by a bout with the flu, which nearly prompted him to miss the Match Play.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” said Thomas, who can unseat Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking if he advances to the championship match. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
His improved health has dovetailed with his increasingly better play at Austin Country Club and he’s now two matches away from winning his first World Golf Championship.
Like the NCAA tournament, however, being one of the last four standing only means more work, and Thomas will have plenty to keep him busy when he sets out early Sunday in a semifinal match against Bubba Watson.
Although Watson hasn’t been as dominant as Thomas, his ability to overpower any course, any time, has been evident this week following victories over Brian Harman, 2 and 1, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 5 and 3, on his way to the Final Four.
“When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything,” said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. “It's like LeBron James, when he jumps, he jumps higher than I do, so it's an advantage. When you're hitting the driver good and those guys you're naming, they're known for hitting the driver pretty well, just like Thomas is doing right now, he's been hammering it. Anytime that you're hitting the driver somewhat straight, it's an advantage.”
But if Bubba is a familiar foe for Thomas, he may want to do a quick Google search to fill in the blanks on one of his potential final opponents.
While Alex Noren is still a relatively unknown player to many American fans (and that’s certain to change in September at the Ryder Cup), it’s only because they haven’t been paying attention. The Swede, who attended Oklahoma State, has been dominant this week, sweeping the group stage followed by a 5-and-3 victory over Patrick Reed in the Sweet 16 and a 4-and-2 triumph over Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.
“I've always liked match play because the outcome is quite direct,” said Noren, who will face Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. “In match play, you've just got to be really focused all the time and anything can happen. And then you have to play good each round. You can't just give up a round and then think you've got three more.”
But if a JT vs. Noren final would be the perfect Ryder Cup primer, the dream match up for Thomas in the championship tilt might be Kisner.
Kisner lost a friendly wager to Thomas earlier this year at the Sony Open when Alabama defeated Georgia in the NCAA National Championship football game and he had to wear an Alabama jersey while he played the 17th hole on Thursday.
Kisner would certainly appreciate the chance at a mulligan. And the way the duo have been rolling in birdie putts this week, it has the potential to be just as entertaining as that other tournament.
Up one, Stricker hunting second Champions title
BILOXI, Miss. - Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic.
Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.
Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens.
The 51-year-old Wisconsin player bogeyed Nos. 2-3, rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6-7, birdied the par-4 12th and eagled the par-5 13th. He has six top-three finishes in eight career senior starts.
First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67).
Thomas can take world No. 1 with win over Watson
AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.
In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.
After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”