Stricker overcomes pain to contend at Hyundai

By Jason SobelJanuary 8, 2013, 4:45 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Steve Stricker ambled down the Plantation Course's first fairway on Monday afternoon like a man on the verge of retirement. Which he is, sort of. Stricker has already announced that he plans to play no more than 10 events this season, part of a plan that will allow him more time with family at home and more time working toward his new charitable foundation.

As he made his way toward a drive that was (for him, at least) pummeled down the fairway, Stricker wasn't hobbling because of age – he's only 45, which is hardly ancient in pro golfer years. Nor was it a crutch for poor play. One hole earlier, he actually sat down in the middle of the fairway and stretched, the very picture of a player in pain. No matter. He simply stood up, went through his pre-shot routine and holed an eagle pitch from 67 yards to claim a share of the lead.

It's difficult to keep an injury under wraps while walking and swinging and walking again, but damned near impossible when a guy breaks up that process by wincing and limping and stretching his way around the course.


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By the time he had reached the next hole, just about every fan in attendance knew of his ailment – and if they didn't, they quickly found out. And so while Stricker struggled his way down the fairway, they called words of encouragement toward him from behind the gallery ropes.

'You can do it, Steve!'

'Stay tough, Stricks!'

'Tylenol!'

The last comment got his attention. Stricker made a sharp right turn and retreated toward the ropes, where wife Nicki not only knew how to get his attention, but knew what he needed.

It turns out he’s dealing with … something.

“Nobody knows if it's a muscle with pressure on the sciatic nerve or if there's a problem with a disk,” Stricker explained. “My back feels great. I don't feel tight. I don't feel stiff. Just every time I get over to my left side, I'm getting a shooting pain down my leg.”

After three days of delays and cancellations due to gusting winds, call this an imperfect storm. Stricker was forced to play 36 holes on the PGA Tour’s hilliest course while enduring an injury. It was enough that prior to the round he alerted a rules official to the prospect that he might not be able to go the distance.

All of which makes it even more impressive that Stricker not only finished both rounds, but posted scores of 71-67 to find himself in second place entering the final 18 holes, just three strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson.

“I think I'll be able to play tomorrow,” he said of the chance to defend his title. “What am I, in second place? I'm three back, so yeah, I've got a chance. I'll go out there and give it a whack, give it a try. Yeah, who knows what can happen? Maybe I'll feel great tomorrow.”

More than a few observers commented that after the start-stop-start-stop nature of the last three days, this week's eventual contenders would need to be armed less with sweet swings and deft putting strokes and more with the mental fortitude necessary to block such thoughts from the forefront of their minds. Considering that inner strength has been a hallmark of Stricker's career, it should come as little surprise that on a day walking 36 holes with an injury, he did his best grin-and-bear-it routine.

“To be able to do that on that golf course with as much pain as he's in is pretty impressive,” playing partner Brandt Snedeker said. “I was giving him a hard time walking up 9. I was going, ‘How am I going to beat you if you've got two good legs? I can't beat you with only one.’ It's tough to watch him because I know he's in pain. Of all days to go 36, not feeling good on this golf course in this wind, it would be a worst-case scenario, but he played great.”

On Tuesday, Stricker will be back out on the Plantation Course, once again wincing and limping and stretching his way around the course. That may be the worst-case scenario for most players, but he just keeps going, channeling the physical pain into mental strength.

That doesn’t mean he can’t use a little help. As he walks through the course in hopes of securing yet another victory, at some point Stricker will hear a familiar voice.

“Tylenol!”

Once again, he will gingerly make his way to the gallery ropes, knowing what he needs to go the distance.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."