You Gotta Play Hurt

By Brian HewittOctober 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
PALM COAST, Fla. ' One of golfs hoariest clichs is the one about how you gotta play hurt. In the old days on the PGA Tour playing hurt often meant a guy was nursing a hangover from adult beverages consumed the night before.
 
Jeff Overtons gotta play hurt this week at the Ginn sur Mer Classic because he doesnt have any choice. And, by the way, it has nothing to do with blood alcohol level.
 
He has to play because he ranks No. 126 on the money list with just one event remaining after this week. Hes hurt because he underwent an emergency appendectomy the Tuesday after the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open two Sundays ago.
 
It is what it is, Overton said Wednesday morning. It stinks.
 
The operation followed a fifth place finish earlier this month at the Valero Texas Open and Overton was looking forward to playing the Frys.com Open at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Arizona where he has played a lot of golf.
 
Instead, he found himself on the operating table at the nearby Scottsdale Mayo Clinic where doctors inserted three metal rods through his navel and removed his appendix before it burst.
 
Doctors have told Overton hes risking a possible hernia if he plays this week. And they didnt allow him to start putting and chipping until Monday of this week.
 
Overton, 25, says hes hitting his 8-iron about 120 yards at the moment. But he plans to tee it up Thursday. Its pretty much a pain threshold thing, he said. It feels like Ive done about 500 crunches in my stomach.
 
So these guys are not only good. But these guys are tough. And these guys want their Tour cards.
 
Overton said if he makes it through this week, he plans to play the season finale next week at Disney.
 
He had hoped for a medical extension in 2009 but said the early indications from the Tour are the request will not be granted.
 
In my opinion he should get three events next year to get his card, said Cameron Beckman Wednesday when he learned of Overtons predicament. Beckman was the winner Sunday at the same Frys.com Open Overton had to withdraw from because of the operation.
 
Overton now figures he needs to make somewhere in the area of $40,000 to $50,000 over the next two events to secure his card.
 

TIGER HUNTING
Last week GolfChannel.com reported that the recuperating Tiger Woods could lose his spot atop the world rankings as early as the middle of next March. Since then the order of players closest to Woods ' the chase pack ' has changed dramatically and could shift significantly again this week.
 
Sergio Garcia vaulted to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking last Sunday by winning in Spain and will leapfrog No. 2 Phil Mickelson if he wins the Volvo Masters at Valderrama this week.
 
Garcia will play one more event in China in 2008, will skip the Merecedes Championships in Hawaii and will open his 2009 season with three consecutive events in the middle East at Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai.
 
Mickelson will shut his 2008 season down after events in China and Singapore followed by the Skins Game in California. His people are saying we shouldnt expect to see him again in anything official until the end of January.
 
(By the way, Butch Harmon, Phils swing coach, confirmed to GolfChannel.com that he was not happy that Dave Pelz, Mickelsons short game coach, talked Phil into shelving his driver early on at the U.S. Open last June. Harmon called the decision ridiculous. But he said he and Phil subsequently talked about it and the air is clear.)
 
World No. 4 Vijay Singh is still recovering from forearm tendinitis, but his agent, Clarke Jones, said Singh plans to play in the Del Webb Father-Son and Tigers tournament in December. Jones confirmed Singh still plans to play Merecedes and the Sony Open in early January.
 
According to Jones, neither Garcia nor Singh will adjust their schedules in an attempt to rack up more world ranking points while Woods remains idle. Similarly, a spokesman for Mickelson said Phil doesnt understand how the world rankings work and doesnt care how they work.
 

RANKING SHUFFLE
Almost lost in all the hoopla of Sergio Garcias rise to the No. 3 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, was the move Yani Tseng made in the womens Rolex Rankings after finishing second in China last week.
 
Tseng, who earlier this year won the McDonalds LPGA Championship, edged past Annika Sorenstam and into the No. 2 spot behind Lorena Ochoa.
 
Ochoa is still miles ahead of everybody else with an average points number of 17.96. Tseng checks in at 9.94. Sorenstams number is 9.73.
 
This is especially interesting in light of Sorenstams prediction, earlier this year, that Tseng would be No. 1 inside of three years.
 
Dont look back, Lorena.
 

PLUMBING THE DEPTHS
This last note has nothing to do with golf, but you have to love a great newspaper headline when you see one.
 
A tip of the baseball cap to the Philadelphia Daily News for coming up with: JOE, THE LUMBER, after Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton homered against the Rays en route to a World Series victory Sunday night in Game 4.
 
Youve got to think even Joe The Plumber would like this headline.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

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Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.


12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.


1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

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Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $7 million

Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.


Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)


Brooks Koepka

• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)


Justin Thomas

• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)


Rory McIlroy

• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)


Jason Day

• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season


Patrick Reed

• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

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Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

“It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

“It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”