Watson: From captain to contender at Greenbrier

By Jason SobelJuly 4, 2013, 11:24 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Tom Watson was only minutes removed from posting an opening-round 2-under 68 at The Greenbrier Classic when he was asked about the possibility of making the tournament cut one day later.

The 63-year-old shot a perturbed glance in the direction of the questioner, as if the insinuation itself had touched a nerve. Then he returned serve with a query of his own.

“Well,” he said in that familiar, thoughtful cadence. “How about winning the tournament?”

Those around him chuckled politely, but playing to win is no laughing matter for Watson. Despite not having claimed a PGA Tour title in just over 15 years, he’s only four years removed from nearly winning a ninth major championship, so any optimism toward reaching that milestone again this week shouldn’t be taken too lightly.

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He certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who’s just happy to be here.

“I turned a 66 into a 68 today with the putter,” he admitted. “Maybe overnight the fried chicken I’m going to have on the Fourth of July will help my putting stroke.”

With apologies to Mom, Chevrolet and apple pie, it doesn’t get much more American than Tom Watson, the Fourth of July and fried chicken.

On the anniversary of our country’s independence, it should be noted that the United States Ryder Cup team has been owned by Europe lately, winning just once since the turn of the century.

Though he’s spent the past decade slipping in and out of relevance, Watson once again finds himself firmly in the spotlight as captain of the stars and stripes. He wasn’t appointed to the position as a figurehead, either. No, the PGA of America called on him as a stopgap, the man to help return the trophy back to home soil.

And the captain is treating the role with the same seriousness as he is his golf game at this week’s tournament.

“I’m scouting,” he said Thursday. “I’m in the scouting mode right now as the Ryder Cup captain, watching these players play. Not only the youngsters, but also the veterans who have been on the team before. That’s part of me getting to know their capabilities better. And I’m watching on TV more. I’m watching these players perform down the stretch, which I think is a critical thing in my selections of players, because you want somebody who can close the deal.”

In a bit of newsworthiness, Watson even revealed that his position as team skipper will have him competing a little more often in PGA Tour events, just to better keep an eye on his potential roster-fillers.

“I’ll be playing the PGA this year, so I’ll be playing against the kids there; I’ll be playing against the kids at the British Open,” he continued. “So I’ll see both our team and their team playing over there.”

He may be 63, but he’s hardly out of touch. During this week’s news conference to name Andy North as his first assistant captain, Watson ran through playing candidates like an expert analyst, breaking down the chances of players from Bill Haas to Hunter Mahan to Steve Stricker.

On Thursday, he was again asked if there are any players who have impressed him recently, players with whom he was previously unfamiliar.

Billy Horschel,” he said without hesitation. “With the exception of those pants he wore at the U.S. Open, he's impressive. He's had seven top-10 finishes and a winner. He's a strong kid, looks like he has very good fundamentals. Again, he hasn't been on the Ryder Cup team, but who knows what's going to happen in the next 16 months.”

Those aren’t the words of a captain reciting statistics off a spreadsheet. Watson had those numbers handy from memory alone – and plenty others, too.

With an increased focus on becoming more visible, he’ll be requiring players to impress him. And when they do, he’ll be watching.

“It's kind of like that movie ‘Top Gun’ with the instructors telling Maverick, ‘C'mon, kid, get back in the saddle, show me what you've got, show me what you've got,’” he said. “When I'm out there, I'm watching.”

It’s true; Watson is keeping close tabs on any potential team members, not only this week but every week. For now, though, those players will have to impress him by beating him.

After all, Watson is here in scouting mode, but he also still believes he’s here to win the tournament.

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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

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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.”