Major confusion

By Jason SobelSeptember 16, 2011, 9:41 pm

LEMONT, Ill. – The year was 1990. Titanium head drivers were all the rage, Jack Nicklaus debuted on the Senior Tour, governing bodies settled on a standardized golf ball and a young whippersnapper named Phil Mickelson was cleaning up on the amateur circuit.

It was also the year when the PGA Tour first introduced its Player of the Year award.

Beverage of your choice at the local 19th hole if you can name the inaugural winner of that honor.

No? Got nothing?

It was none other than Wayne Levi, who won four tournaments that year to claim the hardware, despite only two other top-25 finishes for the entire season.

Such was life back in the olden days, where no singular dominant player existed and it was up to someone to separate himself from a pack of fellow talented professionals.

Sound familiar?

For the second straight year – not coincidentally, ever since Tiger Woods’ SUV crashed into a fire hydrant – there is no clear-cut winner of this prestigious award with a tournament-and-a-half remaining in the regular season.

Webb Simpson is the current favorite, thanks to two wins in his last three starts and two other runner-up finishes so far. But five other players have matched his multiple-victory mark, including rookie Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship.

If there’s a sense of déjà vu, it’s because this is virtually the same exact scenario as last year, when Jim Furyk claimed the season-ending Tour Championship for his third title to not only clinch the FedEx Cup, but the POY award, as well.

And so this year’s race remains wide open, which leads to this question of the day: Why not Mark Wilson?

The veteran pro has enjoyed a very Levi-like season, having won two of his first three starts – at the Sony Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open – but with only two top-10 results and no serious title contentions in his ensuing 20 appearances.

Until now.

Thanks to opening rounds of 65-66 at the BMW Championship, Wilson finds himself in position to break the logjam atop the PGA Tour victory table, tied for the lead at Cog Hill entering the weekend.

“That would put me with the most wins of anybody,” he said after the round, “and then going into East Lake if I can get another one there, I think I'd have a good argument.”

When told that sounds like a lot of ifs, Wilson responded, “Should I say when? The game is fickle, you never know. I've played great so far. There's a lot of great players out here, but I feel like I'm playing very close to the same form I had when I started the year out. My mind is in a better place, and I'm just kind of accepting the results; whatever happens, happens. But yeah, I would definitely put myself in there. Certainly not right now, but I need at least one more win, two more wins to probably be in that discussion.”

Don’t think it can’t happen.

Despite only two wins in his first 236 starts on the PGA Tour, Wilson has proven this year that he has goods to hold up in the final-round heat. Needing only a par on the final hole at Waialae, he made birdie to clinch the victory; a few weeks later, he outlasted Jason Dufner in a Monday playoff in Phoenix to win again.

Of course, there’s comfort and there’s comfort. No player ever feels complete ease under the glare of the spotlight, but if Wilson is to ever enjoy anything close to that feeling, it would be here at his de facto home course, not far from his place of residence.

“I don't feel like I've played it a ton, but just enough that I don't really have to look at the yardage book too much,” he said. “But yeah, I know how to get here in the morning, and it just is very simple. Yeah, I know if there's construction there or a hold-up on the bridge I know another way to go. So yeah, I feel very comfortable. Probably the most of any tournament during the year.”

Besides, there’s no pressure here. You want pressure? Try being a Green Bay Packers fan while living in the heart of Chicago Bears country – which is exactly what Wilson is right now.

That alone should garner some kind of award, but for now he’ll be content to battle for the Player of the Year title. Like he said, he isn’t in that discussion right now, but two more great rounds on this course could solidify his place in that debate.

Wilson certainly wouldn’t be the most famous nor popular player to ever win the postseason hardware, but his name on the trophy would hearken back to the days when it was first introduced.

As if he needed any more karma on his side, there’s this little tidbit, too: When Levi claimed the first-ever POY award, he was helped by winning this very tournament, too.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

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

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

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.

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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.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

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.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

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.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

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.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

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.”