Johnson has history of dealing with bad breaks
He had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open, only to make triple bogey on the second hole, double bogey with a lost tee shot on the next hole, and hit his tee shot into the ocean on the fourth hole. He shot 81.
Even more painful – or so it would seem – was the PGA Championship, where he thought a bogey on the final hole put him in a playoff. Moments later, Johnson was penalized two shots when he didn’t realize he was in a bunker and grounded his club.
Which was tougher to take?
“Neither,” Johnson replied Tuesday.
Those who have come to know the 26-year-old from South Carolina were not surprised. Johnson doesn’t make golf very complicated, and he doesn’t dwell on that which he cannot change. In a telephone interview last week – two days after “Bunkergate” – he said, “I just don’t get why somebody wouldn’t believe me when I say I’m over it. In every sport, you have to go forward.”
Turns out he does have some experience dealing with bad breaks and bad shots.
Johnson recalled one junior tournament in South Carolina when he had a two-shot lead as he played the par-5 18th. He was playing his third shot from the fairway. His opponent – Kevin Kisner, now on the Nationwide Tour – was under a tree playing his third.
“He skulled it,” Johnson said. “And there’s a big mound in front. It went over the mound. You could hear it hit the flag and went in the hole. And it was just … a crazy situation. Probably never happen again in a million years.”
Johnson hit a pedestrian shot that spun off the green. He chipped up to about 3 feet and missed the par putt to lose by a shot.
How did he handle that one?
“I just laughed,” he said. “I was young.”
NO. 1 SCENARIOS: Tiger Woods is at No. 1 in the world for the 272nd consecutive week. For the eighth time this year, that could change depending on Phil Mickelson.
In fact, Mickelson has never been so close to the top.
Woods has an average rating of 9.40 over the last two years, while Mickelson is at 9.14. Lefty can move to No. 1 this week at The Barclays by winning or finishing alone in second, provided Woods does not win; or if Mickelson finishes alone in third with Woods out of the top four at Ridgewood Country Club.
The lower Mickelson finishes, the worse Woods has to do. Mickelson could finish as low as 10th by himself, as long as Woods finishes out of the top 58.
For Woods to stay at No. 1, the scenario is much more simple. He has to make sure Mickelson does not finish ahead of him.
TIGER STATUS: In his first tournament after getting engaged, Tiger Woods was runner-up to Davis Love III at the 2003 Target World Challenge. In his first tournament as a married man, Woods was runner-up to Retief Goosen in the 2004 Tour Championship.
The Barclays will be his first tournament as a divorced man.
Woods at least needs to make the cut, and probably needs to finish in the middle of the pack, to make it out of the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
PING GOLD: This has been an expensive year for Ping Golf, and the Phoenix-based company has no complaints.
John Solheim, the son of Ping founder Karsten Solheim, began a tradition when he became president in 1995 of awarding a solid gold Ping putter for a player who wins a major.
Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open using a Redwood Anser putter. Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship with a Karsten Series Answer 2 putter. Both will receive the model made of solid gold.
Ping spokesman Pete Samuel did not say how much it cost to make, only that “we welcome the opportunity.” Shipping costs do not apply because Solheim delivers the gold putters himself.
It’s the first time since 1998 that a Ping putter was used in two major victories. Mark O’Meara was using an Anser2 model when he won the Masters and British Open.
RYDER CUP: Zach Johnson is playing the next two FedEx Cup playoff events with more than $10 million on his mind. The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship are somewhat of an audition for Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin.
Johnson finished 11th in the standings, narrowly missing a spot on the team when he failed to birdie the 18th hole – only one player made birdie in the final round – in the PGA Championship.
He desperately wants to be one of Pavin’s four captain’s picks, although he is not consumed with it.
“If I’m playing and competing, I feel like I have a good chance,” Johnson said. “I want to make that team more than anyone knows. If not, I’ll support the team and watch every shot. Once you’re associated with a Ryder Cup team, you want to be part of every one.”
Johnson went 1-2-1 during his Ryder Cup debut in Ireland four years ago.
ONEASIA WAITS: The OneAsia Tour is in its second year as it attempts to create an Asia-Pacific alternative to the PGA Tour and European Tour. It has 11 tournaments this year, up from five in 2009.
What it still lacks is recognition from the board of the Official World Golf Ranking.
During a meeting last month at St. Andrews, the OWGR board decided against giving OneAsia Tour event minimum ranking points for its tournaments. The PGA Tour and European Tour events offer a minimum of 24 points no matter how strong the field, while Japan and Australasian tour events get at least 16 points, and Asia, South Africa and Nationwide events offer a minimum of 14 points.
DIVOTS: Barclays is donating $50,000 to the PGA Tour’s “Birdies for the Brave” program after an exhibition on the former USS Intrepid at Pier 86 in New York, in which Phil Mickelson and others hit balls off the deck to a target in the Hudson River. … PGA champion Martin Kaymer was in New York on Tuesday, even though he’s not eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He presided over the opening bell at Nasdaq during a media tour. … How low was the scoring in Greensboro? John Merrick, Omar Uresti and Charles Warren shot in the 60s all four rounds and tied for 65th.
STAT OF THE WEEK: It has been 19 years since no one on the PGA Tour won more than twice in a season. With 10 tournaments left on the schedule, five players have two victories.
FINAL WORD: “I feel extremely motivated right now. I started this year on the PGA Tour on a high note and I really want to finish it in the same fashion.” – Ernie Els.
Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018
Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.
Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.
An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.
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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise
Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.
“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.
Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.
“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.
Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.
Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.
“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.
Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy
We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.
This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.
Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.
Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.
More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.
English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.
''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''
Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend
After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.
The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.
Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.
“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.
In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.
“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”
In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.
“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.
Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.
“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”