Martin Struggles to Stay Competitive

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. -- The cart stops along a slope on the 18th fairway in West Virginia's hills. Casey Martin hops out and limps to his ball.
Two approach shots from the same spot land in a greenside bunker. He rides on, then descends into the pit without hesitation.
The practice round now over, Martin's troubled right leg has held up again under the rolling terrain. It's his golf game that is struggling, six years after winning the right to ride a cart in PGA Tour events.
``I hope to somehow get over the hump and make some sense out of it,'' Martin said. ``The controversy's wound down. That's just because I haven't played particularly well these last three years.
``I'd love to start playing well again and cause a stir.''
Martin has been relegated to alternate status on the Nationwide Tour. He must wait for a qualifier to drop out or receive a sponsor's exemption.
He's earned just $15,858 in two PGA events this year and has yet to make a cut in three Nationwide Tour events. He finished 3-over-par Friday at the Pete Dye West Virginia Classic.
Martin's condition makes it virtually impossible to walk long distances. As luck would have it, the pain worsened around the time he won his federal lawsuit against the PGA Tour in 1998. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2001.
Riding in a cart has reduced the level of discomfort, but the physical pain is still there.
``My leg is an issue, but it's not why I haven't been playing well,'' Martin said.
He doesn't like to put much weight or pressure on his leg, and that's reflected in his swing. When he hits the ball correctly, there's discomfort. When he's sloppy, his leg feels fine. Subconsciously, over time, his swing has gone the latter route to avoid the pain.
``So that's my struggle,'' Martin said. ``Trying to retrain my body to accept a little bit of a different feel has been tough.''
Martin also has altered his tournament preparations because he can wear down during practice rounds. During one recent round, he hit fewer shots to save his strength.
``I think golf can certainly be physically taxing on a course like this in the heat, but more so it's the mental aspect,'' he said. ``You grind for five hours in competition, you're exhausted from that more.''
Martin had sought numerous medical remedies to relieve the pain, and had surgery in 2002 to improve the blood flow in his right leg. He doesn't foresee any more operations.
``I'm not proceduring anymore. I've done it a few times. It's been a very bad experience and I'm just not going to do it,'' he said. ``I'm just content to live my life, and if something were to happen for the better, great. But I'm not going to be out there searching for it.''
Martin earned his PGA Tour card in 1999 by finishing in the top 15 on the Nike Tour's money list.
His best finish in his only full season on the PGA Tour was a tie for 17th in the 2000 Tucson Open, and he missed the cut 15 times in 29 tournaments.
Two years ago, Martin was in good position to earn another tour card but had a meltdown on the final six holes at qualifying school.
Martin has kept his sense of humor, however, throwing one-liners at fellow competitors or anyone within earshot.
``He stays positive, and that's what's important,'' said former Nationwide player Kevin Kennedy, Martin's caddie at the West Virginia Classic. ``If he hits a bad shot, he kind of laughs about it and moves on. It's the attitude you need out here.''
But Martin, 32, can't survive on laughs alone. The college teammate of Tiger Woods and Notah Begah III at Stanford would like to make something happen in the next couple of years.
His deadline is in his heart, not on a calendar.
``I've just got to continue pursuing until the passion's gone or until something else better pops up. You never really know. There's no real rule book,'' he said. ``Fortunately, I can afford to still do this and I want to do it.
``I'm just not quite ready to throw in the towel. ... If I finally say this is too much, I'll walk away. I can do it. I'm not dependent on golf to make me happy.''
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.