Despite injuries, Day optimistic about future

By Rex HoggardJanuary 4, 2017, 12:01 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – In the fall of 2006, those who make the important decisions at TaylorMade Golf had a heady choice – sign little-known prospect Jason Day to an endorsement deal or Anthony Kim?

The company opted for the Australian blue-chipper, perhaps because of Kim’s rough-and-tumble past at the University of Oklahoma. Or maybe it was Day’s potential global appeal.

Whatever the reason, the decision paid off. Although Kim won three times in his first three years on the PGA Tour he hasn’t played since 2012 and has become something of an urban legend, with the occasional sighting only fueling the curious reasons behind his disappearance.

Day on the other hand begins 2017 No. 1 in the world following a three-win season in ’16, he’s won a major (2015 PGA Championship) and is a model citizen with an impressive lineup of endorsement opportunities, including a new clothing deal with Nike that reportedly is worth $10 million a year.

Yet beneath all that momentum and upside was a very real sense of uncertainty on Tuesday when he spoke at the SBS Tournament of Champions.

The 29-year-old hasn’t played on Tour since the Thursday of the Tour Championship in September, sidelined by a back injury that caused him to withdraw from the season finale.


SBS Tournament of Champions: Articles, photos and videos


“It’s been a while,” he smiled on Tuesday at Kapalua.

If there is cause for concern when it comes to Day – and, to be honest, any time someone misses starts because of a balky back there is reason to worry – it wasn’t coming from the 10-time Tour winner.

That’s not his style.

Although he conceded that the last three frigid months cooped up in Columbus, Ohio, was varying shades of “miserable,” he begins 2017 feeling fit and “cautiously optimistic.”

He’s been here before. At the 2015 U.S. Open he suffered from a dramatic case of benign positional vertigo, missed two months in ’14 with a left-thumb injury and withdrew from the Masters in ’13 with an ankle injury.

As impressive as Day has been on the course during his career, his inability to avoid the DL has been just as incomprehensible.

For Day, the cautionary tale of a world-class athlete derailed in his prime by a back injury is no further away than a text message. He grew up idolizing Tiger Woods, basing his unrivaled work ethic on a second-hand book written about the 14-time major champion, and has become a friend and confidant of the former world No. 1 in recent years.

Day has seen firsthand the ravages a back injury can have on even the most talented and conditioned player, but as temperatures dropped into single digits in Ohio the last few weeks he contended there were no foreboding moments.

This current injury, which he described as an annular ligament tear between his L4/L5 disc, can be controlled, Day said. He explained that through treatment and strengthening and a shorter back swing he can keep his ailing back from dictating the terms of his career like it has for Woods, who missed all of the 2016 season following multiple back procedures.

When asked if there was a moment over the past few weeks when he embraced the prospect of his professional mortality, Day said his current bout with his body wasn’t nearly as concerning as the thumb injury he endured in 2014.

“I actually thought I was going to have to quit the game because of the thumb, because I literally couldn't hold the club,” he said. “You can get away with a bad back a little bit every now and then; you can kind of get through it.”

His injured thumb, however, lingered for months, at one point requiring three cortisone injections in four weeks.

“I remember sitting there and they would pull the thumb, so the knuckle could expand and they could inject in between the knuckle,” Day recalled. “It hurt, I mean, like hell, it hurt so bad. I was just trying to get some sort of numbness so I could actually hold the club.”

By comparison, Day’s most recent medical setback only required time and patience, not to mention a healthy dose of perspective born from countless trips to the Tour fitness trailer.

“I feel like you're always trying to say, ‘I feel good and I'm past it,’ but with back injuries, I think you probably look at it, 90 percent of the players probably have some back injury or back symptom that could possibly pop up at any time,” he said.

A decade after TaylorMade bet on Day his upside remains indisputable. Long even by Tour standards with a superior putting touch (he was first in 2016 in strokes gained: putting), Day is still the player with the most consistent and well-rounded game even if all that talent comes with a growing list of concerning medical question marks.

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LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and merely try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three series segments, as well as past Golf Lives features.

And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

FILM 1

Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


FILM 2

Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


FILM 3

Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

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Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

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USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.