Sort This Thing Out

By John HawkinsAugust 4, 2010, 5:04 am

As landmark events go, the 2008 Ryder Cup doesn’t register as more than a blip on the outer edge of most radar screens. Boo Weekley’s antics are what I remember most – the mock horse he rode off the first tee Sunday highlighted a week that was improbably fun and wildly successful for the United States. Seeing how he’s 46th in the current Ryder Cup standings, Boo needs to saddle up and get that pony into full gallop immediately, if not sooner.

Every good team can use a comedian. Woody Austin took on the role in 2007, when Jack Nicklaus’ final Presidents Cup squad smashed the Internationals in the first of three consecutive room-to-spare wins for the U.S. It was the ’08 victory, however, that altered the landscape. The Ryder Cup is still a lot bigger and a lot more intense, and in recent years, Europe has been the much tougher foe, although the gap between the Yanks and Euros has never been greater than it is now.

In that context, the U.S. victory at Valhalla two years ago was a big deal. Forced into the ultra-rare role of home underdog, Paul Azinger piloted the Americans past Europe without Tiger Woods. As the series shifts to Wales, however, the visitors look even weaker – with or without Woods – and would seem to have little chance of holding onto the chalice unless we see an American leaderboard invasion in the next two weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. Jeff Overton is a nice player, having piled up three second-place finishes and two thirds since late April, but he’s also fourth in the U.S. standings – fourth and winless, no less – which scares me. Right behind Overton is Anthony Kim, who hasn’t played in 2 ½ months. How can a guy miss that much time in the heart of the season and return to action with a spot all but locked up?

Good question. With Tiger Woods fighting through his issues and Phil Mickelson in the midst of another half-speed summer, the U.S. simply hasn’t had much presence on big-tournament leader boards. The British Open was frightening – not a single American within eight strokes of the lead entering the final round. Overton has made a ton of money, much of it in weak-field events such as last week’s gathering at the Greenbrier, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and for the most part, Overton has gotten it done.

A fair number of veterans, meanwhile, aren’t making things easy for U.S. skipper Corey Pavin, who will likely to use at least two of his four picks on guys with multi-Ryder Cup experience. Stewart Cink is 13th, Zach Johnson 20th, Kenny Perry 23rd, Scott Verplank 24th, Chad Campbell 29th. Of that bunch, Johnson would seem the closest to must-pick status, but a victory at Colonial remains his only top 10 in 18 starts all year.

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Then there are the tweeners: Ricky Barnes, J.B. Holmes, Sean O’Hair. It’s easy to see Pavin choosing one of the three, but a lot depends on whether the Dude in the Red Shirt qualifies. Woods is currently ninth, one spot away from an automatic berth, and though logic tells us Tiger could win at Firestone and Whistling Straits, he could also continue his lackluster play, at which point Pavin would have to burn a pick. Either way, Woods is in if wants to be on the team.

So Pavin may have some tough decisions to make, although the U.S. situation isn’t nearly as convoluted as it is in Europe, where Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are among those on the outside looking in. Garcia wouldn’t warrant a second thought if he didn’t own such a spectacular record (14-6-4) and the best point percentage in Euro Ryder Cup history. With Luke Donald and at least one of the Molinari brothers in good position to make the roster, skipper Colin Montgomerie has his own issues to deal with.

Does he use a pick on Harrington, a three-time major champion and positive influence who hasn’t contended anywhere since March? What about Martin Kaymer, who can look like the best player in the world one week, then vanish for months on end? At some point, both captains must weigh a man’s past accomplishments with his present value. How seriously, for instance, does Pavin consider Cink, the 2009 British Open champion but largely invisible for all of ’10?

In prior Ryder Cup summers, things had a tendency to shake themselves out. This year, both captains may have little choice but to shake things up.

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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.”