Heart of the Matter

By Randall MellJune 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Twenty months ago, Andrew Parr was lying in a bed at St. Mikes Hospital in Toronto.
The blood clot that hurtled out of his lungs, through his heart and lodged in his brain did more than threaten his dream of some day playing the PGA Tour.
A stroke took away his speech and the feeling on the entire right side of his body. Doctors couldnt tell him what his future held or whether he would recover completely.
Ontario native Andrew Parr plays a shot at the 2008 Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Club. (Getty Images)
Thats what makes this 26-year-old Canadians fast start in his first U.S. Open Thursday feel so triumphant no matter how this rain-soaked championship ends.
When Parr holed a 4-foot birdie with his first putt, his two brothers howled from their spot aside the No. 1 green at Bethpage Black.
When they reached the second green and saw Andrews name on the leaderboard perched above Tiger Woods name, they paused to revel in the moment.
It was surreal, Bryan Parr, 20, said. Knowing what he had overcome, we were proud.
Andrew didnt surprise his family and friends overcoming the hard rain and wind to make birdie right out of the gate in the most difficult of major championship conditions. Theyve watched him overcome so much more.
Anyone who knows Andrew knows hes destined for success, its just a matter of time, said Tim Nash, 26, Andrews stepbrother. Hes so smart and so driven.
The first day of the U.S. Open ended with Parr tied with four other players for the lead at 1 under. Yeah, he only played three holes in a rain-suspended round where nobody completed more than 11 holes, but Parr said the great lesson in his recovery from a stroke is to enjoy lifes journey.
Raised in London, Ontario, Parr seemed born for a career in golf. With a name like that, did he have any choice? They didnt think so at Texas A&M, where he won All-American status his senior season. A two-time Ontario Amateur champ, he was expected to excel when he hit the Canadian Tour, but his career path careened off course one scary day in Toronto.
Out to see a girlfriend in October of 2007, he was at the elevator at her apartment when he was overcome with an awful feeling. His right foot felt funny, suddenly heavy. Then a strange sensation shot up the entire right side of his body. He didnt know what was happening.
I couldnt comprehend what people were saying, he said. I couldnt communicate. I couldnt say anything.
Parrs girlfriend took him to a hospital a block away. He was paralyzed on his right side when he got there.
Doctors determined Parr had a stroke. They discovered Parr was born with a hole in his heart, and it caused a blood clot in his lungs, which led to the stroke.
For a week, Parr underwent tests, opting to undergo blood thinning treatments instead of a surgical procedure.
Everyone was freaking out, Parr said. My parents were freaking out. I didnt know if I would ever play golf again. Doctors said they didnt know how I was going to recover.
Parrs agent, Todd Ciuba of SFX Golf, did some investigating and called the therapist who helped New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi recover from his stroke. With the medication and rehabilitation, Parr began regaining feeling and strength. Within a week, he was out of the hospital.
The first thing I did was pick up a golf club, Parr said.
At 6-foot-4, Parr has a long swing. He headed out to the London Hunt Club, his home course, to see what was left of it.
It was a rainy day, like today, he said from the Bethpage Black clubhouse after play was suspended Thursday. It was pretty scary, because it didnt feel normal. I couldnt even bounce a ball on my club, which any guy who has played golf for any amount of time can do, so I was a little unsure.
Parr made some encouraging swings.
It felt weird, but I was hitting the ball straight, he said. I was thinking it was awesome.
There was purpose in those swings. Canadian Tour Qualifying School was scheduled a month after his stroke. He got up off his hospital bed intending to play, and he did.
That was probably the life-saver, Parr said. It gave me the will to rehab as fast as possible.
Parrs first round of competition after his stroke was the first round of Q-School. He shot 72 and went on to win Canadian Tour playing privileges. He had struggled on the Tour in 07, but he would rebound in 08 to share the Tours Most Improved Canadian Award. He qualified for the U.S. Open in the sectional qualifier in Roslyn, Wash.
I just thought if I could recover from this, I could recover from anything, Parr said.
Parr says the stroke changed him in a profound way. He said he saw his life too singularly focused on the future and on his career. He resolved to change that.
I took a lot of things for granted, my relationships, Parr said. It was always about, `How am I going to get better? How am I going to be the best golfer? I play golf every day now for fun. I enjoy the process. I enjoy the good things and the bad things, and Im not too worried about where Im going. Im just going to enjoy the ride.
Just making the U.S. Open is a thrill ride.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.