James Oft-Injured But Still a Winner

By George WhiteJuly 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
Its good to win a golf tournament any time in your career, of course. But when its a major (the Ford Seniors Players Championship) and its on your new circuit (the Champions Tour) in a new country (the United States), victory is oh, so sweet!
That was Mark James in 2004. This week, he returns to the Detroit area to defend his title. Hes enormously thankful that he has the chance, thank you.
Mark James
Mark James vener dreamed he win a Champions Tour major in 2004.
It was in 2000 that James wasnt sure if he would ever play again. He got the dreaded news that he had testicular cancer. Following a long, painful battle with the disease, the 1999 European Ryder Cup captain finally whipped it and was able to continue his career.
The string of events is still startlingly clear to him, starting with the first inklings that something was wrong.
I had a very big tumor in the middle of my body that was about 10 inches by 4 in the abdominal cavity that originated in the testicle, he explained. They didn't know what kind of cancer it was at first. I was very ill at that point. I couldn't eat. The stomach pushed on the tumor and the spine. I was very ill, not eating, losing weight rapidly.
I had to have a full laparoscopy to get a full diagnosis and get the tissue out to decide what kind of treatment to have. As soon as we knew the type of cancer, they said it's not too bad, you have a 90 percent chance here.
I started chemo very quickly, and immediately the pain went because the tumor started to react. It was sort of a period of six weeks it was very worrying, but then it eventually got better and the chemo went well, and everything went fine after that.
Of course, its always a real cause for alarm when the doctors mention the word cancer.
I was diagnosed in 2000 and had an operation October 2000, he said. I finished my chemo January 1st and had another operation to remove the remnants of the dead tumor in February '01, but I came back and went skiing five weeks after that. It was brilliant. I had been working out and everything, but I didn't have the strength. If I made the cut and lasted four rounds, I was exhausted. On your feet for five or six hours a day for five days was very difficult. It was about 18 months.
Naturally, playing successful golf after such an ordeal would be difficult. But being a rookie on the Champions Tour in 2004, it was almost impossible to think he could win.
I knew it would be tough to win, he said. I was under no illusions, absolutely. These days, there are good players on every tour and every tournament. If you win in America or Europe, you've beaten a strong field. There is more depth than I thought on this tour.
I knew there was good players and I had a lot of respect for them, but there is still more depth than I expected.
Of course, once he recovered from the cancer, there were still the normal aches and pains to worry about. A knee operation, for example, plagued him before the Ford Seniors victory.
'I tore the meniscus, and I realized I couldn't play anymore, so I had the operation,' said James. 'I was organized to see the Miami Dolphins' surgeon.
'He fast-tracked me and did the operation that Friday after, and then I ended up in Mexico I think for three weeks after the operation, which is great. They were really helpful. The doctor, surgeon, was brilliant. It was really good of him.'
The victory was a near impossibility, James figured.
'This is the biggest win of my career, without question,' James said. 'To win a major, it's incredible. This is definitely the biggest win of my career.'
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    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.