Tennis great Nadal considered golf after career-threatening injury

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2011, 11:23 pm

MADRID – Devastated and 'without appetite for life,' Rafael Nadal contemplated a move into professional golf after a career-threatening injury sidelined him, the 10-time Grand Slam champion writes in his autobiography.

The Spanish player writes in 'Rafa' that doctors discovered a rare foot injury in 2005 that had the potential to sideline him for good, prompting thoughts of a future in golf.

In the book, provided to The Associated Press and to be released in the United States on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Nadal describes his toughest on-court battles with Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon final and subsequent Australian Open.

But his off-court problems play a large part in the former top-ranked player's career. The mental toll of his parents' separation hindered his recovery from injuries in 2009, when pride led him to try to defend his French Open title despite his physical problems.

Still, his lowest point seems to have been when doctors discovered a congenital bone problem in the bridge of his left foot soon after a five-set victory over Ivan Ljubicic in Madrid on his toughest indoor surface.

Nadal said that joy was soon replaced by 'a state of deepest gloom.'

'(The) diagnosis had initially been like a shot to the head,' Nadal writes. 'The bone still hurts me. It remains under control, but we can never drop our guard.'

Nadal wept then, just as he did after losing the 2007 Wimbledon final to Federer. But he did not cry on the flight from Melbourne in 2009 when his father, Sebastian, revealed to the recently crowned Australian Open champion that his parents had separated.

'My attitude was bad. I was depressed, lacking in enthusiasm. (My team) knew something had to give,' writes Nadal, with the weight of those problems leading to his only defeat in seven appearances at Roland Garros and his subsequent withdrawal from Wimbledon. 'My knees were the immediate reason, but I knew the root cause was my state of mind.'

Mental toughness – instilled by coach and uncle Toni – is a key theme, especially in his ability to bounce back, including trying for his first victory in three Wimbledon finals against Federer.

Nadal was 'gripped with fear.' The warrior figure he'd cultivated had 'lost his courage' after failing to clinch victory on several match point opportunities against Federer. Nadal credits moments like these for improving his mental stamina, with one chapter even titled 'Fear of Winning.'

'What I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind ... should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it,' Nadal writes on the opening page before later adding: 'I think I have the capacity to accept difficulties and overcome them that is superior to many of my rivals.'

Toni's 'cruel to be kind' coaching strategy was key in developing him into the 'tennis machine' he is. He compares his uncle to a figure descended from 16th-century conquistador Hernan Cortes with a Spartan philosophy of life uncommon to his home island of Mallorca.

'There was no let up from Toni. No mercy,' the second-ranked player writes. 'I look back at that teenage Rafael and I am proud of him. He set a benchmark of endurance that has served me as an example and as a reminder ... if you want something badly enough, no sacrifice is too great.'

Nadal offers interesting insight into his regimen, and his family offers some surprising details about the Manacor native, in the 250-page memoir, which was written by John Carlin, who also wrote the book that director Clint Eastwood turned into the film 'Invictus.'

Nadal's mother Ana Maria Parera labels him a 'scaredy cat' who sleeps with a light on, an obedient and docile child who became the 'family mascot' inside a close-knit family that Carlin describes as 'something Sicilian ... without the malice or guns.'

Perhaps the strangest revelation is Nadal's dislike of animals, especially dogs: 'I doubt their intentions.'

Of Federer there are mostly respectful reflections of a rival and friend that he calls 'a blessed freak of nature' for his talent.

The closest Nadal comes to criticism is when he says Federer mis-hit a shot 'the way an ordinary club player might' while recounting the epic All-England final that delivered the first of his two Wimbledon wins.

Of current top-ranked player Novak Djokovic, who has beaten Nadal in five straight finals this year, there is trepidation of a 'formidable opponent' who is 'one hell of a player, temperamental but hugely talented.'

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.



Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”


Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath.