Notes Fowler explains Ryder Cup selection Cog Hills new greens
The 21-year-old is the first captain’s pick without a PGA Tour victory. And he is the first PGA Tour rookie to play for the U.S. team. But upon hearing how he was chosen, Fowler certainly doesn’t feel as though he stands out.
Fowler revealed Wednesday that in the final hours of the decision, captain Corey Pavin was taking the pulse of every assistant captain and every player. Whatever the process, Fowler was chosen.
“What was cool about the whole situation is that Corey brought in all the assistants and all the team members to basically help him pick the last four guys,” Fowler said. “Which I thought was pretty cool because it makes the player … well, the players basically pick their own team in a way. Obviously, Corey makes the final decision.”
Oddly enough, Fowler was having dinner with Bubba Watson when Pavin was making the rounds through text message. Fowler didn’t realize until later that Watson was punching away on his keys in text messages to the captain.
“They were basically voting and spending that time picking the final guys on the team,” Fowler said. “So he’s sitting across the table from me while the whole team is deciding what’s going on.”
Fowler later showed his youth.
Instead of pacing the floor in his room waiting for the phone to ring, he was playing video games of dirt bikes with his father.
“It’s a great way to kill time on the road,” Fowler said.
No doubt, the kid is relieved to have made the team, although he figured there would have been more chances. How to celebrate?
“I am going to get a little haircut,” Fowler said. “It’s getting a bit long for me right now.”
COG HILL GREENS: Rees Jones renovated Cog Hill two years ago with hopes the public course could land a U.S. Open. The changes didn’t stop Tiger Woods from a fifth victory last year, just like Jones’ work at Torrey Pines hasn’t stopped Woods from winning in San Diego.
“It’s more cosmetic than anything else, especially off the tees,” Woods said. “I’m still playing to the same areas. Going into the greens is definitely much more difficult than it used to be.”
Steve Stricker also noticed a change in the greens, although he didn’t offer much in the way of a compliment.
“I think the greens are the biggest adjustment,” he said. “I think visually, it looks great from the tee. The greens, on the other hand, are somewhat different, to put it nicely. He’s got a characteristic about them that I don’t really care for. But that’s just my personal feeling. The green complexes are pretty difficult.”
The putting surfaces themselves are also getting the players’ attention. Woods referred to them as “spotty,” which he would attribute to the strain of grass (bent), the time of year (summer) and recent rains.
“It does affect the putts, no doubt,” Woods said. “We’re all going to have to deal with it. It’s been a pretty hot summer, and with a hot summer, bentgrass greens get a little bit stressed.”
VERPLANK’S EFFORT: Stephen Ames had to play in a twosome the opening two rounds of The Players Championship because of a 145-man field. He finds out Thursday whether he plays by himself.
Ames is paired with Scott Verplank, who was on his way to Chicago on Wednesday night with hopes of playing.
Verplank’s left wrist hurts so much that he withdrew from the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship when he no longer could grip the club through his swing. “If I can’t hit it straight, I’m not any good,” he said.
The plan was to take time off to let it heal -- but that was before a late sequence of events enabled Verplank to fall only to No. 70 in the FedEx Cup standings and qualify for the BMW Championship.
He took a cortisone shot about an hour after the Boston event ended, then had the MRI on Tuesday.
“No bad structural damage,” Verplank said in a text message. “Not in any immediate danger. This week is totally up to me and how much I can put up with it.”
There are no alternates in the playoffs, so even if he can’t make it, Verplank won’t be depriving someone a spot in the field. And he’ll still collect his $110,000 bonus for reaching the top 60 in the FedEx Cup.
DIVOTS: Slightly more than half of the players at Cog Hill—36 out of 70— are Americans. … Andres Romero missed a birdie putt on the final hole at the TPC Boston and figured his playoff run was over. Instead, the Argentine who began the playoffs at No. 115 managed to crack the top 70 (68th) and gets another shot at reaching the Tour Championship. The only other players who started outside the top 100 and made it to the BMW Championship are Kevin Streelman (No. 102 to No. 26) and Tiger Woods (No. 112 to No. 51). … Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar are tied in the race for the Vardon Trophy with an adjusted scoring average of 69.61.
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.”