Westwood ready for St Andrews bum leg and all

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2010, 12:15 am

Open ChampionshipST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Any other week, the British Open buzz would be all about Lee Westwood.

He’s No. 3 in the world, with top-three finishes at three of the last four major championships. Better yet, he’s actually won on the Old Course (OK, so it was the Dunhill Links), making him Britain’s best chance to snap that decade-long oh-fer streak at its own Open.

But Westwood’s right leg is being held together with tape and wraps this week after rupturing a muscle in his calf, making his prospects at St. Andrews uncertain, to say the least.

“These things happen. You can’t control when they happen,” Westwood said after playing a six-hole practice “round” Monday. “It’s frustrating that it’s the Open Championship. If I don’t play well this week, I won’t put it down to the injury. Obviously, it doesn’t help. But I’m hitting the ball well, feel like I’m very comfortable on these greens.

“So, you know, I’m still hoping for a good week.”

Few players have been better than Westwood recently, and it seems only a matter of time before the 37-year-old sheds that dreaded “best player never to win a major” title. He’s been in contention at each of the four majors at least once, including finishing second at this year’s Masters and tying for third at Turnberry and the PGA last year.

Lee Westwood
Westwood is still searching for his first career major. (Getty images)
He may not have been in contention at Pebble Beach, but a tie for 16th at the U.S. Open is a more-than-respectable finish.

After top-20 finishes in all but three of his 14 starts this year, including his second PGA Tour win at St. Jude’s, the British Open seemed to set up almost perfectly for him. Though Westwood has never finished better than a tie for 64th at a British Open at St. Andrews, he won the Dunhill Links here in 2003.

“I’ve played well here in the past, obviously played well last year, and I’ve been looking forward to this week for quite some time,” Westwood said. “There’s a rich history to the golf tournament, especially when it’s held at St. Andrews. I think it’s even more special when the Open Championship is here, and obviously it’s one I’d like to win.”

That’s what makes his injury so disappointing – though Westwood knows it could have been far worse.

While at the French Open two weeks ago, his right calf swelled so badly doctors initially feared the 37-year-old might have a blood clot. Further tests showed he had instead ruptured the plantaris muscle, which runs down the calf.

Though Westwood played the French Open – he tied for 18th – he skipped the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond to give the leg a chance to heal. He took almost all of last week off, not hitting balls until Friday, and will play one, maybe two full practice rounds before the Open begins Thursday.

“Apparently it’s six to eight weeks recovery time if you put your feet up. But, obviously, with the biggest tournament on the calendar this week, I can’t really afford to do that,” Westwood said. “It’s just a case of managing it, strapping it up, trying to keep the swelling from getting any worse and playing as well as I can.”

The leg doesn’t hurt as badly as it did in France, but Westwood said he can still feel it in his swing.

“When I try and go up on my toe and then twist, I’m using it then and it’s kind of stretching it out and feels uncomfortable,” he said. “The very last part, I’m just a little bit apprehensive.”

Westwood said he has no idea what caused the injury, other than playing professional golf for 17 years. But it might explain the aching Achilles’ he’d had the last eight months. The plantaris goes all the way down to the ankle – asked where, exactly, the muscle is located, Westwood cracked, “In the dictionary, under `P,”’ – and he thinks he might have mistaken the deteriorating muscle for Achilles’ pain.

Rest is the only real cure for the injury, but doctors have told Westwood he won’t cause further damage by playing. He wrapped the ankle when he played Monday, and will test out different alignments over the next couple of days to see what works best and gives him the most support.

After playing six holes Monday, he plans to play 18 on Tuesday. The forecast for Wednesday isn’t great – showers and wind – so Westwood said he might only play a few holes.

“I’m still pretty confident,” he said. “My legs feel like I haven’t done anything to decrease the power and the muscles in my legs. We’ve done tests on all of that. So I’m feeling fresh and think by Thursday, I’ll be ready to go.”

Reminded that Padraig Harrington won the 2008 British Open with a wrist so sore the Irishman wasn’t even sure he’d be able to start the tournament, Westwood smiled.

“That’s the old saying, isn’t it? `Beware the injured golfer,”’ he said. “Hopefully that will ring true.”

 

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."