Gregorys Inspirational Streak Still Alive

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
MIAMI -- The most meaningful streak in golf did not end at Doral.
 
D.J. Gregory is going to another PGA TOUR event this week in New Orleans. He will watch another player and tell another story. He will walk every hole of every round at the Zurich Classic, just as he has done the previous 12 tournaments, and will do the next 24 tournaments until his amazing journey ends at the Tour Championship.
 
Gregory carries a handicap of 36, the highest possible.
 
He also carries a cane.
 
Gregory, 30, has cerebral palsy, which he refers to more as an inconvenience than an ailment. He was given little hope of ever walking across the living room, much less up the 18th fairway at Riviera.
 
I can do everything anyone else can do, he said. Just a little slower.
 
To prove his point, and to inspire others with a physical handicap, Gregory wants to walk every hole on the PGA TOUR this year. He picks one player to follow at every tournament and writes a blog for the PGA TOUR that is more about players than his own struggles. Gregory already has walked more that 250 miles, from the mountainous terrain of Kapalua to the high desert of Arizona.
 
Its pretty incredible, said Heath Slocum, whom Gregory followed for 72 holes over five days at Doral.
 
Gregory was born 10 weeks premature. When oxygen was pumped into his collapsed lungs, the pressure caused blood vessels to burst in his legs, and they grew so curved that his feet pointed out at a 90-degree angle.
 
Anyone could see this child was different because of his legs.
 
His father knew he was different because of his heart.
 
He had to drag himself around the house on his arms, Don Gregory said from their home in Savannah, Ga. Anywhere he wanted to get to, he would go. He wouldnt stop and cry, and he wouldnt ask for help.
 
Doctors wanted to put him in a wheelchair, but his father thought that would crush the boys spirit. What followed was a series of operations in which his legs were cut and twisted so his feet would point in the right direction.
 
Gregory did nothing in a hurry. He started out on a walker with four wheels, then two wheels. He graduated to two canes, and now uses a single cane to steady himself. Each step brings a mixture of labor and joy. Its almost as if he wills himself forward, his legs stiff, upper body rocking from side to side.
 
I dont really walk, he said. I like to call it a wobble. As youve probably noticed, I dont walk in straight lines. I just cant do it.
 
But he hasnt missed a shot.
 
Gregory not only has logged his miles on the golf course, but how often he falls'13 times through Doral. He was flat on his face on the curb at Pebble Beach, drawing gasps from spectators who took pity on him until Gregory got up, dusted himself off, and kept wobbling along with a smile on his face.
 
I laugh at myself every time, he said. The worst was at the Bob Hope. I tripped over some TV cables twice in 30 seconds.
 
His father joins him at most tournaments, although Gregory has no shortage of friends to fill in. He still brags about having eight women as roommates at Springfield (Mass.) College'four of them on the basketball team. He was the teams administrative assistant.
 
How he even got to college is another amazing chapter on determination.
 
His father graduated from Springfield and is on the board of trustees. He was going through the mail at dinner one night when he came across an envelope from the college addressed to Don Gregory.
 
My son goes by D.J., the father said. It was an application for admission, and I said, Why would they send this to me?
 
D.J. took the letter and filled out the application. Six years later, he had bachelors and masters degrees in sports management.
 
Gregory was 12 when his father took him to the 1990 Greater Greensboro Open, where Steve Elkington won for the first time on the PGA TOUR. Gregory was trying to fill his hat with autographs when CBS Sports analyst Ken Venturi came by in a cart, signed his cap and invited him to join Jim Nantz in the tower.
 
I just took a liking to him, Venturi said.
 
The relationships formed that afternoon went a long way.
 
Gregory began going to a half-dozen tour events each year, which led him to dream of walking every hole of every tournament. He drew up a business plan and e-mailed it to Nantz, who made sure it got to PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem. The tour signed off on the idea and invited Gregory to two straight playoff events last year as a trial run, wanting to make sure he had the stamina.
 
Gregory hopes to write a book next year about places he went and people he met. All these players have a great story to tell, Gregory said, overlooking the fact that he does, too. He now works with United Cerebral Palsy to help raise awareness.
 
The reaction is more than I ever would have guessed, he said.
 
Slocum finished last among 77 players at the CA Championship, so there wasnt much of a gallery. Gregory had a good view, and so did Slocum. He couldnt help but notice the number of fans who approached Gregory to shake his hand, and he heard one woman tell Gregory about her son coping with cerebral palsy.
 
He makes a bad day a lot easier to swallow, Slocum said. Its pretty inspiring.
 
Because of the rain delays, Slocum finished in the last group on the ninth hole of the Blue Monster. That meant Gregorys week ended about the same time Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green with a par, ending a winning streak that had captivated golf for six months.
 
By years end, Gregorys streak might prove far more impressive.
 
Related Links:
  • Video: D.J. Gregory Interview
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”