The great escape

By Randall MellAugust 12, 2011, 7:44 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Rory McIlroy played through pain Friday at the PGA Championship.

You could see it with his face twisting in anguish after he ballooned a 6-iron off the 17th tee at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Though he rinsed that shot in a pond and made triple bogey, there was actually terrific news in that scene and beyond.

The pain, you see, was all emotional in a round of 3-over-par 73.

The strained tendon above McIlroy’s right wrist wasn’t hurting him when he signed his scorecard after the round. His pain was in knowing that while he made the cut, he’s fallen well off the lead in the year’s final major.

With his right wrist and forearm heavily bandaged, McIlroy’s highly scrutinized return to action Friday could have been a lot worse.

McIlroy appears to have avoided major injury after hurting himself hitting a questionable shot with a 7-iron off a tree root in the first round.

“It’s uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t say it’s very painful,” McIlroy said after the second round. “It was just always in the back of my mind, in my subconscious.”

There was a sigh of relief in the McIlroy camp as they watched the 22-year-old rip some gargantuan pain-free drives in his return.

'He's fine, he's fine,' said Gerry McIlroy, Rory's father.

McIlroy played Friday with no observable preoccupation with the injury, other than his reaction to an iron shot off the tee at No. 13, his fourth hole of the day, when he shook his hand following the shot.

McIlroy drove the ball beautifully Friday. While his iron play wasn’t sharp, and his short game and putter were shaky, his wrist/forearm seemed to hold up just fine.

“I’m worried about it, because I feel as if I can't play to the best of my abilities with it,” McIlroy said. “But I'm not worried about it long term. It should take a few weeks just to heal.”

After opening with an impressive 70 that was troubling, in all the pain McIlroy showed playing with the injury, the reigning U.S. Open champion acknowledged he got away with a questionable shot off that tree root.

“It was a mistake in judgment,” McIlroy said. “I thought I would be able to get away with it, let go of the club at impact, and hopefully it would be OK. But, it’s hard to let go at the right moment, the club is coming down so fast. I just let go a little bit too late and jarred the wrist.”

McIlroy’s managers took him to the Peachtree Dunwoody Medical Center after Thursday’s round. He spent about three hours at the clinic, where an orthopedic hand specialist examined him. An MRI revealed a strained tendon above the wrist but nothing more serious. The scans were also sent to specialists back in Great Britain.

“There’s no structural damage, just inflammation,” said Chubby Chandler, McIlroy’s agent.

Chandler said he left the decision to play to McIlroy and the doctors.

“He doesn’t listen to anyone anyway,” Chandler cracked.

McIlroy said if he weren’t playing a major championship, he likely would have walked off the course on Thursday and withdrawn.

“Looking at the scans, [the doctors] said, 'Look, you can't do any more damage to it, it's up to you. If you want to play, and you feel as though you can play, OK, carry on. And, if not, then you shouldn't play.' I feel as if I can play, and so the decision was purely up to me,” McIlroy relayed.

Chandler said doctors were prepared to give McIlroy a shot of Toradol, an anti-inflammatory drug, but McIlroy passed on it.

“They couldn't get the sign-off, it was 10 [o’clock], and he didn’t want to be there all night,” Chandler said.

So McIlroy took two Alleve and went to bed in a soft cast. He took two more Alleve in the morning, the only medication he took for the injury. He also received treatment from a physical therapist before heading out to hit a limited number of practice shots before the second round.

“When I woke up this morning, it was stiff, but it wasn't as painful,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, I hit a few shots on the range, and it was fine. I felt as if I was OK to go out and play.

“If it wasn't a major, I probably would have stopped yesterday.”

If McIlroy’s mind is made up, Chandler said there is no talking him out of playing. If McIlroy’s determined, he said there is no talking him out of a risky shot, either.

'Guys like Rory and Tiger they play on their limit, don’t they?' Chandler said. 'He’s taking a shot 90 percent of the field wouldn’t take.”

Chandler said McIlroy burns to play in majors.

“He said something [about playing on with the injury],” Chandler said. “He said the next major’s not until April, that’s how he thinks. You don’t get too many people who think, well, the next major’s not for nine months. He’s a different person at a major than any other week.”

Had the injury been worse, he might have been a lesser player for a long time.

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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 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 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."