The Reluctant Return - COPIED

By Randall MellMay 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Its golfs great X factor.
 
You never really know whats going on in a players personal life and the impact its having on his game.
 
You can watch a struggling Tour pro hit shot after shot and never see whats ailing him.
 
2008 Players Championship
Paul Goydos congratulates Sergio Garcia after their battle in 2008. (Getty Images)
No matter how good the grip, or perfect the swing plane, shots dont always fly straight when something internals misaligned.
 
The heart is the most mysterious component of the swing.
 
Almost four months after his ex-wifes death, Paul Goydos returns to The Players Championship this week a different man than the one who won a legion of new fans with his unexpected run at the title a year ago.
 
His former wife, Wendy, who struggled with addiction after resorting to illegal drugs to help her deal with debilitating migraines, died on Jan. 17. Goydos was told she died after taking something to ward off the pain, though he still hasnt seen the toxicology reports to know the exact cause. He said telling his two daughters was the most difficult thing hes ever done.
 
Obviously, its been a tough year on my kids, Goydos said. Theyre handling it. Im proud of the way theyve handled it, for lack of a better word. Theyre enjoying and appreciating the time they had with their mother and not dwelling on the time they dont have. Thats a sign of the parenting their mother did for them.
 
Goydos, 44, a two-time PGA Tour winner, gained full custody of his two daughters, Chelsea, 18, and Courtney, 16, in 2003. A former substitute teacher, he took the following year off, helping in his girls classrooms, taking them to the mall and becoming more integrally involved in their lives.
 
The devoted father story gained new legs when Goydos stepped into the underdog role as the 54-hole leader at The Players a year ago. The wit, charm and deadpan sense of humor that Goydos fellow Tour pros know so well was unveiled to a national audience that would fall in love with Goydos almost overnight.
 
When it was pointed out that he had never held the lead after 54 holes of a PGA Tour event, Goydos didnt miss a beat.
 
Yeah, but Ive only been on Tour for 16 years, he said.
 
When NBCs Bob Costas asked Goydos how he would sleep on the eve of the final round, Goydos quipped: On my back.
 
There was more witty repartee that made Goydos the peoples favorite in a Sunday duel with Sergio Garcia. In the end, though, Garcia prevailed, defeating Goydos on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after Goydos hit his tee shot in the water at the famed 17th island hole.
 
Even in the loss, Goydos said the final-round support was so overwhelming he walked away with a sense of what it must feel like to be Tiger Woods.
 
In that loss, Goydos gained more acclaim and favor than he did in his two victories.
 
Its almost not comparable, the difference between finishing second at that event as opposed to winning Bay Hill [in 1996] or the Sony Open [in 2007], Goydos said.
 
That loss, though, thrust Goydos vigorously into the life of a public figure.
 
Its a role that troubles him with his return to The Players, including his wifes death as the tragic new chapter in his life.
 
I really struggle with how public I want this story to be, Goydos said.
 
Goydos said hes speaking up to set the record straight about the life Wendy lived, not just the death she experienced. You hear guilt in his voice when he tells her story. You hear how he lumps himself in with the folks who make harsh judgments about the plight of substance abusers.
 
I want people to understand this is someone who tried not to be an addict, Goydos said. This is someone who battled a health problem that got away from her and just beat her. Im just as guilty as everybody else is about being judgmental on this issue. Im not saying I didnt do the exact same thing. This is a disease much more serious than I thought.
 
Goydos said the passing of time has only brought that point home to him, how he didnt empathize enough with his wifes fight.
 
The more I think about it, the more tragic it becomes, he said.
 
Goydos has missed the cut in six of 10 starts since he learned of his wifes death, but he wont blame it on a misaligned heart.
 
Everyone has their own sets of worries, Goydos said. Some may be greater at times than others, but everyone deals with that. It doesnt matter if youre a professional golfer or a writer or a lawyer or what have you.
 
Tiger Woods took nine weeks off after the death of his father, Earl, three years ago and struggled upon his return at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Robert Allenby struggled with the death of his mother this winter. Ernie Els is dealing with his sons autism. The personal struggles of countless other Tour pros have never come to light.
 
Obviously, those things bother you, Goydos said. For me to say Ive played poorly because of whats happened, thats not really fair to the other people who have beat me every single week, because they have problems, too. We all have our level of problems, and for certain people it may be more difficult from year to year, but the reality is we all go through the same things eventually.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

    SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

    Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

    ''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

    Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

    The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

    Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


    Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


    ''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

    Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

    Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

    Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

    Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

    The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

    Getty Images

    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

    Getty Images

    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

    Getty Images

    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura's main focus going into the Marathon Classic was trying to put together four solid rounds that would help her keep her LPGA card.

    She doesn't have to worry about that any longer.

    Suwannapura picked up her first win on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at Highland Meadows.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    ''I never expect it was going to be today at all. I've just been struggling the whole year,'' said Suwannapura, whose previous best finish was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship. ''Finally all my work I've been doing has come out and shown up today. After I knocked that last putt in, it just felt like a dream come true.''

    With the win, the 25-year-old Thai player has an exemption through the 2020 season. She is also the sixth first-time winner on tour this year

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th to finish at 14-under 270. She then had to wait for the final seven groups to finish.

    ''I did not think or expect that 14 would be good enough, because I know there were two par 5s coming in on 17 and 18, and it's a good opportunity for players to make birdie,'' Suwannapura said. ''I was just chilling in the clubhouse, you know, being silly and stuff, trying to relax, and see what they're doing. Now, like, 'Oh, I have to go warm up and try to win the tournament.'''


    Full-field scores from the Marathon Classic


    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out.

    Despite having eight career victories, including this season's opener in the Bahamas, the 32-year-old Lincicome said she was extremely nervous standing over that putt.

    ''I was shaking so bad. I had to take so many deep breaths. So it's kind of cool to have those nerves, but learning how to play through them after 12 years of being a pro ... 14 years of being a pro, I still haven't figured it out, so that's a little disappointing,'' she said. ''(The putt) caught a lot of the hole, so I feel like I hit a pretty good putt for how nervous I was. I really haven't seen one that aggressive in a long time, so that was just unfortunate, really.''

    Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. She will become the first woman since 2004 to play in a PGA Tour event.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

    ''Sometimes golf is weird. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way, and that was kind of me the last four holes,'' said Henderson, who lost for only the second time in six occasions she has led after 54 holes.

    Besides the tour exemption, Suwannapura's win came with another bonus. She was one of five players to earn a spot in the Women's British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

    The top five players not already exempt earned spots. The other qualifiers were Daniela Darquea, Celine Herbin, Mina Harigae and Mel Reid.