Notes Clarks elbow passes Par 3 test

By Associated PressApril 7, 2011, 3:06 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tim Clark was 2 under at the Par 3 Tournament, significant not so much because of the score or the event, but the fact the South African played golf.

It was his first competition since he finished second at the Sony Open in Hawaii three months ago.

Clark has been coping with a severe and mysterious injury to his left elbow, which has kept him from even hitting full shots until Tuesday on the practice range at the Masters. There’s still no guarantee he will play in the Masters on Thursday. He first wanted to get through the Par 3 and make up his mind.

In that respect, at least he finished.

“I’ve started to get better the last two weeks,” he said. “In the last few days, they might have found something that’s causing the problem. It could be a pinched nerve in my neck that’s the root of the problem. I’m hoping that’s the case.”

After returning from Honolulu, and when he woke up after his first night at home, his elbow was throbbing. He tried a cortisone shot a few weeks later, and it didn’t get better. Clark actually flew out to Pebble Beach, but he could tell on the range he couldn’t play.

He even tried blood spinning, a painful process that “hurt like crazy.”

It didn’t help.

Clark was in good spirits before the Par 3. Two weeks ago, he felt he had no chance of playing the Masters. A week ago, he had hope. And on Wednesday, he hit full shots on nine holes.

He plans to tee it up Thursday, although his expectations are next to nil. Without having hit full shots in three months, he lacks strength in his arms. Also doubtful is defending his title in The Players Championship next month.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Clark said.

Only after he was done talking about his elbow did he mention the best news of all during his absence. His wife gave birth to their first child Friday, a 6-pound boy they named Jack.


LOVE ALL: Tennis player Andy Roddick’s first trip to the Masters was a memorable one.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion was Zach Johnson’s caddie for the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday and did a decent job of it, too, with Johnson earning closest-to-the-hole honors on No. 3.

“He gave me some great yardages early on. And then he got tired,” Johnson cracked. “We had a great day. We birdied the first three holes and went from there, and it was fun.”

Roddick, who dropped to 14th in the most recent ATP rankings, took up golf a few years ago. He’d been planning to come to Augusta National with some friends when he mentioned that it would be fun to caddie for someone, and a friend who is business partners with one of Johnson’s friends set it up.

Augusta National is one of golf’s most famous courses, and Roddick said it reminded him of that other treasure on grass, Wimbledon.

“There are a lot of parallels, with the tradition and the pride that everyone takes just being there,” Roddick said. “There are definitely a lot of similarities.”
FIELD SIZE:
The better the players get on the PGA Tour, the larger the field gets at the Masters.

It’s enough to prompt Augusta National chairman Billy Payne to say officials will take a close look at their criteria after this Masters to decide whether a change is required.

There are 99 players in the field, the most since 103 in 1966.

“We say every year in response to that question that we look and we study the qualifications, which we do,” Payne said Wednesday. “But we are really going to look at it this year, because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that’s manageable. The 100 pushes that limit quite significantly.”

The biggest change over the past few years has been taking the field of the 30-man Tour Championship to conclude the FedEx Cup, along with the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list. The Masters also began taking winners of PGA Tour events, as long as they are not opposite-field events or part of the Fall Series.

Kevin Streelman and Kevin Na got into the Masters based on getting to the Tour Championship. All that was required of Streelman was finishing third in a playoff event. What also increased the field were 10 players who won PGA Tour events. It’s possible that Tiger Woods not winning and Phil Mickelson winning just once in the last year contributed to that.

“The trends vary every year, and we do look at that and we’ll have a thorough evaluation after the tournament this year,” said Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters’ competition committee. “And we’ll make adjustments if we think it’s necessary.”
MOTHER’S DAY:
The Par 3 Tournament gave Ian Poulter a chance to spend some quality time with his mother.

Poulter’s mother, Theresa, caddied for him during the tournament, a lighthearted family affair before the serious work begins Thursday. The greens are filled with children, looking adorable in their miniature white caddie outfits, and wives and parents are not only allowed to tag along, they’re encouraged.

“Had a great time playing the par 3 with mum on the bag. she has never done that before,” Poulter said afterward on Twitter. “It’s great to share with friends & family. Special.”

Poulter wasn’t the only one to put his mother to work. D.A. Points’ caddie was his mom, Mary Jo, and her only complaint was that the afternoon didn’t last longer.

“He wouldn’t play another nine,” she said. “I begged him to play another nine.”

But Points said he’s already got an idea of how to make it up to her.

“A special coat fitting on Sunday,” he said. “That would maybe do it.”

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Snedeker joins 59 club at Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:19 pm

Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with an 11-under 59, becoming just the ninth player in PGA Tour history to card a sub-60 score in a tournament round.

Snedeker offered an excited fist pump after rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth hole at Sedgefield Country Club, his 18th hole of the day. It was Snedeker's 10th birdie on the round to go along with a hole-out eagle from 176 yards on No. 6 and gave him the first 59 on Tour since Adam Hadwin at last year's CareerBuilder Challenge.

Snedeker's round eclipsed the tournament and course record of 60 at Sedgefield, most recently shot by Si Woo Kim en route to victory two years ago. Amazingly, the round could have been even better: he opened with a bogey on No. 10 and missed a 6-footer for birdie on his 17th hole of the day.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Snedeker was still 1 over on the round before reeling off four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16, but he truly caught fire on the front nine where he shot an 8-under 27 that included five birdie putts from inside 6 feet.

Jim Furyk, who also shot 59, holds the 18-hole scoring record on Tour with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

Snedeker told reporters this week that he was suffering from "kind of paralysis by analysis" at last week's PGA Championship, but he began to simplify things over the weekend when he shot 69-69 at Bellerive to tie for 42nd. Those changes paid off even moreso Thursday in Greensboro, where Snedeker earned his first career Tour win back in 2007 at nearby Forest Oaks.

"Felt like I kind of found something there for a few days and was able to put the ball where I wanted to and make some putts," Snedeker said. "And all of a sudden everything starts feeling a little bit better. So excited about that this week because the greens are so good."

Snedeker was hampered by injury at the end of 2017 and got off to a slow start this season. But his form has started to pick up over the summer, as he has recorded three top-10 finishes over his last seven starts highlighted by a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier. He entered the week 80th in the season-long points race and is in search of his first win since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

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Woods' caddie paid heckler $25 to go away

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:05 pm

Tiger Woods is known for his ability to tune out hecklers while in the midst of a competitive round, but every now and then a fan is able to get under his skin - or, at least, his caddie's.

Joe LaCava has been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and on a recent appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" he shared a story of personally dispatching of an especially persistent heckler after dipping into his wallet earlier this month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

According to LaCava, the fan was vocal throughout Woods' final round at Firestone Country Club, where he eventually tied for 31st. On the 14th hole, LaCava asked him to go watch another group, and the man agreed - under the condition that LaCava pony up with some cash.

"So he calls me a couple of names, and I go back and forth with the guy. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave?'" LaCava said. "And he goes, 'Well, if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today, I'll leave.' And I said, 'Here you go, here's $25.'"

But the apparent resolution was brief, as the heckler pocketed the cash but remained near the rope line. At that point, the exchange between LaCava and the fan became a bit more heated.

"I said, 'Look, pal, $25 is $25. You've got to head the other way,'" LaCava said. "So he starts to head the other way, goes 20 yards down the line, and he calls me a certain other swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way. We’re going face-to-face with this guy and all of a sudden Tiger is looking for a yardage and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line.”

Eventually an on-course police officer intervened, and the cash-grabbing fan was ultimately ejected. According to LaCava, Woods remained unaffected by the situation that played out a few yards away from him.

"He didn't have a problem," LaCava said. "And actually, I got a standing ovation for kicking the guy out of there."

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Highlights: Snedeker's closing blitz to 59

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

Brandt Snedeker's first round at the Wyndham Championship began with a bogey and ended with a birdie for an 11-under 59.

Snedeker made four consecutive birdies on his opening nine holes and then raced home in 27 strokes to become the ninth different player in PGA Tour history to break the 60 barrier.

A very good round turned historic beginning when he holed a 7-iron from 176 yards, on the fly, for an eagle-2 at the par-4 sixth. Playing his 15th hole of the day, Snedeker vaulted to 9 under par for the tournament.



With Sedgefield being a par 70, Snedeker needed two birdies over his final three holes to shoot 59 and he got one of them at the par-3 seventh, where he hit his tee shot on the 224-yard hole to 2 feet.



Snedeker actually had 58 in his crosshairs, but missed an 6-foot slider for birdie at the par-4 eighth.



Still, 59 was on the table and he needed this 20-foot putt to shoot it.


At 11 under par, Snedeker led the tournament by five strokes.

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Rosaforte Report: A tale of two comebacks

By Tim RosaforteAugust 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Comeback (noun): A return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.

Even by definition, the word comeback is subjective.

There is no question that Brooks Koepka has completed his comeback. With two major championship victories that encompassed wins over Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods, Player of the Year honors have all but been locked up for the 2017-18 season.

But knowing Koepka, he wants more. A No. 1 ranking, topping his boy D.J., is a possibility and a goal. A Ryder Cup is awaiting. By all rights, Koepka could be Comeback Player of the Year and Player of the Year all in one, except the PGA Tour discontinued its Comeback honor in 2012. Even without an official award, the conversation comes down to the two athletes that hugged it out after finishing 1-2 at Bellerive.

What Woods has recovered from is remarkable, but not complete. He hasn’t won yet. With triumphs in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Koepka has completed his comeback from a pair of wrist injuries that could have been equally as career-ending as the physical issues that Woods had to overcome just to contend in the last two majors.

“There was a question on whether or not I’d ever be the same,” Koepka said Sunday night in the media center at Bellerive, following his third major championship victory in six tries. “Whether I could do it pain-free, we had no idea.”



The wrist traumas occured five months apart, with the initial issue, which occured at the Hero World Challenge in December (in which he finished last in the limited field), putting him in a soft cast with a partially torn tendon. That cost the reigning U.S. Open champion 15 weeks on the shelf (and couch), including a start in the Masters.

His treatment included injecting bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma. When he returned at the Zurich Classic in April, Koepka revealed the ligaments that hold the tendon in place were gone – thus a dislocation – and that every time he went to his doctor, “it seemed like it got worse and worse.”

Koepka’s second wrist injury of the season occurred on the practice grounds at The Players, when a cart pulled in front of Koepka just as he was accelerating into the ball with his 120-plus mph club-head speed. Abruptly stopping his swing, Koepka’s left wrist popped out. His physio, Marc Wahl, relayed a story to PGA Tour radio in which he advised Koepka before he reset the wrist: “Sit on your hand and bite this towel, otherwise you’re going to punch me.”

Koepka admitted that he never dreamed such a scenario would threaten his career. He called it, “probably the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through, setting that bone back.” But, testament to Koepka's fortitude, four days later he made an albatross and tied a TPC Sawgrass course record, shooting 63.

Woods’ physical – and mental – recovery from back surgery and prescription drug abuse was painful and career threatening in its own way. As he said in his return to Augusta, “Those are some really, really dark times. I’m a walking miracle.”

As miraculous as it has been, Woods, by definition, still hasn’t fully completed his comeback. While he’s threatened four times in 2018, he hasn’t won a tournament.

Yes, it’s a miracle that he’s gotten this far, swinging the club that fast, without any relapse in his back. As electric and high-energy as his second-place finish to Koepka was at the PGA, Woods has made this winning moment something to anticipate. As story lines go, it may be better this way.

Coming off a flat weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone, Woods was starting to sound like an old 42-year-old. But instead of ice baths and recovery time, the conversation was charged by what he did on Saturday and Sunday in the 100th PGA.

A day later, there was more good news. With Woods committing to three straight weeks of FedExCup Playoff golf, potentially followed by a week off and then the Tour Championship, that moment of victory may not be far away.

Scheduling – and certainly anticipating – four tournaments in five weeks, potentially followed by a playing role at the Ryder Cup, would indicate that Woods has returned to the activity in which he was formally successful.

There were times post-scandal and post-back issues, that Woods stuck by the lines made famous by LL Cool J:

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers

Not this time. As he said Sunday before his walk-off 64 in St, Louis, “Oh, God. I didn’t even know if I was going to play again.”