Lewis completes her improbable journey

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2012, 11:02 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Stacy Lewis made her father marvel yet again Friday night when she became the first American in 18 years to win the Rolex Player of the Year award.

These days Dale Lewis' mind often races back to a frightening time, and it did again when Lewis stepped onto the stage at the Ritz Carlton to accept her award during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards Celebration.

Lewis remembers the surgery his daughter endured just before enrolling at the University of Arkansas nine years ago.

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That’s the day a doctor cut under his daughter’s rib cage in a six-hour procedure, deflating her left lung and moving her heart’s aorta to make room to operate on her damaged spine. The doctor told Dale there was a risk she could be paralyzed as they fixed a rod and five screws onto her backbone as a remedy for the scoliosis that plagued her.

Watching his daughter come out of that surgery, Dale remembers the pain in her face when medical staff told her she needed to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom.

“I remember her shuffling her feet, and the tears coming down her face,” Lewis said. “That’s a picture I’ll never forget.”

Dale will also never forget Stacy stepping to the first tee in her first event for the Razorbacks women’s golf team. Stacy redshirted as a freshman to recover from the surgery, but she gradually worked her way back into the game.

“I remember sitting in the doctor’s office when they told me I had to have surgery,” Lewis said. “I thought I would never play golf again.”

That’s why Dale was so moved watching Stacy play her first collegiate event. He knew how badly she wanted to play for Arkansas, and he flew to Albuquerque, N.M., to watch.

“When she hit that first tee shot, and we saw she going to get to play golf in college, that’s all we ever hoped for,” Dale said.

That made Friday’s award presentation so remarkable for the Lewis family. It's so much more than they ever dreamed possible.

Lewis took the stage at the end of the program and told the audience she believes there's a purpose even in your troubles.

'I remember sitting in my doctor's office before the surgery and thinking 'Why me? Why is this all happening to me?''' Lewis said. 'That is something I've asked a lot in my life, in the good and the bad, and I still don't know the answer to that. I don't know why I am up here. I don't know why I have been through all I have been through, but I do know that everything that happens to you happens for a reason. And all the adversity I have gone through is the reason I am up here tonight and that I would not be here without the help of a lot of people.'

A year ago, Lewis helped Yani Tseng with her acceptance speech as player of the year. Lewis said she never imagined back then that she would be writing her own speech this year.

“At this time last year, would I have even thought about being player of the year?” Lewis said. “Absolutely not.”

Lewis said helping Tseng last year did not make writing her own speech any easier. She was nervous.

“It’s a lot easier when you don’t have to make the speech yourself,” Lewis said. “Yani had her speech written, and I just helped her with some translations. I don’t like reading things, so I’m just going to get up there and talk.”

Lewis’ parents were at the awards program, as were her coach, Joe Hallett; her caddie, Travis Wilson; and her managers Jeff Chilcoat and J.S. Kang.

Notably, Gary Brock, the Houston doctor who led Lewis’ spinal fusion surgery, also was there. Lewis might not be the LPGA’s player of the year if not for a fortuitous turn of events before that surgery. Brock knew Lewis played golf in the Houston area, but he did not know she was so talented that Arkansas offered her a scholarship. He did not know that until he won a raffle that led to a series of golf lessons shortly before the surgery.

Brock had planned to implant a double rod on Lewis’ spine, but a double rod would reduce flexibility. When Brock showed up for his golf lesson, Lewis’ name came up, and the pro raved about her game. Brock knew he needed to alter his surgical plan.

“He was like, `We’re going to do this surgery differently now. We’re going to put one rod in, and you will have more rotation,’” Lewis said. “The recovery is a little bit longer, but you’ll be able to play golf better.”

Friday night, the Lewis family marveled at just how much better she was able to play.

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Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.

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Current FedExCup points list

“I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

I'll get to rest.”

Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He’s projected to move to 81st in points. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.

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Points two back after missing 16 of 17 cuts

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:54 pm

What’s the better story come Sunday?

Brandt Snedeker turning his 59 in the opening round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship?

Or D.A. Points winning after missing 16 cuts in his last 17 starts?

They’re both scripts in the works at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Points, who has been struggling this season with a herniated disc that causes numbness in his fingers, has broken through his season-long funk to shoot back-to-back 64s. He starts the weekend in second place, two shots behind Snedeker.

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“It's been difficult,” Points said of his slump. “It's been hard on my family. I was in this position a couple years ago, and I clawed my way back and won in Puerto Rico.

“I had that big downturn, and I clawed my way out of it just to find myself way back down in another deep hole again.”

Points, 41, is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He won his first title playing alongside Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2011 and two years later won the Shell Houston Open. He slipped into a three-year funk after that, before rebuilding his game and winning the Puerto Rico Open last year.

“Hopefully, this is my way of starting to claw back out,” Points said.

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New 'Mr. 59' Snedeker needs Day 2 rally to keep Wyndham lead

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

Brandt Snedeker struggled coming off the emotional high that comes with shooting 59, but it didn’t stop him from rallying Friday to try to turn his historic round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Snedeker caught fire on the back nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to take the lead going into the weekend.

With a 3-under 67, Snedeker moved to 14 under overall, two shots ahead of D.A. Points (64).

“I knew it was going to be tough” Snedeker said. “It wasn't going to be the same way it was yesterday. Kind of battling the emotion of everybody pulling hard for you, wanting to see you do it again. So the front nine was disappointing.”

A day after becoming the ninth player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 tournament round, Snedeker opened with three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He said it was a struggle to begin anew.

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“You hear people telling you every two seconds, `Mr. 59,’ or saying how cool it was to watch it,” Snedeker said. “Phone's still blowing up this morning, guys in the locker room are still talking to me about it. So, yes, totally on your mind. You can't ignore it. You can't try to forget about it. Hardest thing is trying to get back into a rhythm.”

Snedeker did with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine. Rolling in a 30-foot eagle putt at the 15th gave him back the lead he lost earlier in the round.

“To see that go in was huge,” Snedeker said.

Not every player to break 60 on the PGA Tour has gone on to win. In fact, Snedeker is looking to become just the fifth player to do so.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.