A Game for the Walking Wounded

By Rex HoggardMay 6, 2011, 12:44 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Golf doesn’t have an official injury report like other sports, but as the list of walking wounded expanded this week at the Wells Fargo Championship it’s not from a lack of content.

If such a publication existed it would read something like this: Tiger Woods, knee and Achilles, out; Tim Clark, elbow, out; Geoff Ogilvy, shoulder, out; Padraig Harrington, neck, probable; Lucas Glover, stomach, probable; Rocco Mediate, back, questionable; Shaun Micheel, ringing in ears, questionable.

Golf may be a gentleman’s game, but those who play for pay aren’t immune to a metaphorical blow to the gut from time to time. On any given day the Tour’s fitness vans are bubbling over with all manner of aches and pains. So much so that years ago the Tour started sending out two vans, one for working out, one for working on the wounded.

At 7 a.m. Lucas Glover arrived in the latter, “and he said he didn’t feel great,” said his trainer Randy Myers. Sixty-seven strokes later the circuit’s Grizzly Adams stand-in was three strokes off the lead and one more trip to the Port-a-John away from an IV.

Lucas Glover
Lucas Glover shot a 5-under 67 Thursday while suffering from a stomach virus. (Getty Images)
“If you just hang out around the fitness vans, you'll know that guys are always dealing with little bitty things here or there,” said David Toms, T-2 through Round 1. “I don't think the human body is meant to be standing straight up for eight to 10 hours a day and then bending over half of that time hitting a golf shot twisting your body in all kinds of crazy ways.”

Arm-chair linebackers everywhere will scoff at the notion, but there is nothing non-contact about golf, at least not on the PGA Tour level.

“Probably 10 percent of every field deals with injuries,” said Myers, director of fitness at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort. “Everybody is hurt.”

Myers should know he works with perhaps two of the most injury-prone players in the game – Davis Love III and Jonathan Byrd.

That Byrd found his way into a share of second at Quail Hollow, or any tournament for that matter, is something of a medical miracle. In no particular order J-Byrd has struggled with and through a hip surgery, cracked ribs, a shoulder sprain and the occasional lower back ailment.

Clark, the defending champion next week at The Players Championship if he can haul himself off the DL, has been just as star-crossed – sidelined at various stops in his career by a bulging disc in his neck and now an ailing right elbow that may keep him from defending his first Tour title next week.

All total 22 frat brothers are playing under a medical exemption of one form or another this year. From the surreal to the serious, Tour types stretch the bounds of even the best of health plans.

Padraig Harrington has been nursing an ailing neck since The Masters, which he hurt on Thursday while swinging a weighted club left handed. It’s an exercise, he says with only a pinch of sheepishness, that is supposed to help loosen up his chronically ailing neck.

“I couldn’t move my neck to the right at all,” Harrington said. “But now it’s good and I’m doing a lot of work in the gym on it.”

The prognosis for Woods doesn’t seem as optimistic. Last Tuesday he announced he would miss this week’s Wells Fargo event with a knee and Achilles injury. For those scoring at home, that’s four knee procedures and now a second bout with an Achilles injury, the first occurring in 2009, all of which makes next week’s Players a day-to-day decision.

What golf lacks in impact and brute trauma it more than makes up for in repetitive pain. Simply put, a good golf swing is anything but good for the body.

“If your hands are hurting, your elbow, your shoulder, your hips, your back, if anything is hurting it's just a difficult sport to play to me,” Toms said. “You can get a blister on your pinky finger and all of a sudden it's hard to play golf just because of all the feel that goes into golf shots. That's just part of it.”

Toms is no stranger to the fitness or operating table, from wrist surgery in 2003 and a back injury in 2006 to a heart scare at the 2005 84 Lumber Classic where he was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia.

But if the Tour maintained an official DL it may be named in Micheel’s honor. The 2003 PGA Championship winner has been diagnosed with low testosterone, had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009 and may currently be suffering from one of the strangest ailments ever reported – an inner ear disorder called endolymphatic hydrops, a form of Meniere's Disease.

“I move around inside myself,” Micheel said last month at The Heritage. “I know that sounds kind of weird, but it's the best way to describe what's happening to me.”

Micheel had tubes put in his ears to help alleviate constant ringing and twice had to have his eardrums pierced to drain fluid, but he said on Thursday before he teed off at Quail Hollow that he had not seen any improvement.

These guys may be good, and they may also need help getting off the golf course. The only thing missing from a potential Tour injury report is the ubiquitous “oblique” injury. But the year is still young, even if the rank and file isn’t feeling that way.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

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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 LPGA.com 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 LPGA.com 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."