The Trainers View of Drug Testing

By Rich LernerSeptember 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
Civil liberties lose 3 and 2 to suspicion in the new century, so Commissioner Tim Finchem really had little choice but to establish a drug testing program for the sport thats long favored a good hamburger over HGH.
Jeff Handler trains Mike Weir, owns fitness centers in New England, and has worked with athletes from other professional leagues.
Its not an issue in golf, but lets make it a dead issue he told me, adding that hes not sure where Gary Player was coming from with his recent insinuation that several players were juiced. I spent more time on PGA TOUR than any other sport and just have not seen any evidence of it.
I think theyre doing it to tell the world, hey were an honorable sport and if its there well find it, added Joey Diovisalvi, the trainer who helped Vijay Singh become the most prolific winner over the age of 40. I understand the statement theyre making but I dont think it affects golf.
Diovisalvi spent considerable time in the world of bodybuilding, where steroid use was rampant. He explained that golfers are built differently, and not just physically They certainly dont understand the complexity of anabolic steroid use.
Handler stated bluntly, These are powerful substances. Theyre no joke. Theyre very dangerous. Any time you mess with human body chemistry youre flirting with disaster long term.
I dont think there are enough players who would be brave enough to take the risk, said Diovisalvi.
And yet Handler admits that from recovery to inflammation control to regeneration of tissue to strength and power, they work.
Weve seen the evidence of that in baseball, football, track and field and cycling. Its more widespread than the public knows, said Handler.
Most golfers, certainly not all, but most, prefer the range over the rigorous workout, the plate of Buffalo wings over Pilates.
I cant get half the guys to get on a proper nutrition plan, lamented Diovisalvi. We have the smallest number of guys taking advantage of what we have to offer. Were struggling to get them off the range.
Handler concedes that steroids could give a golfer much greater potential to drive the ball longer and the ability to recover more quickly from nagging aches and pains over the course of a grinding season. But in general he adds that its not like a lineman in football getting run over and he needs to be heavier and stronger to compete. Its not as cut and dried in golf.
Could they hit the ball further? asks Diovisalvi rhetorically. Sure they could. But they could also rip muscles right off the bone. I dont know that theres a real benefit. Its not like a guy doing the shot put or an NFL lineman where its all about strength. Golfs about flexibility and creating more length as it relates to your muscles. Were trying to get these guys as functionally strong but not explosively strong as possible.
Just because youre stronger and a bigger framed person doesnt mean youll play better golf, offered Handler. Theres not a correlation like in football.
It is, however, reasonable to suppose theres a closer correlation to baseball in terms of hitting it hard and taking it deep. Handler played plenty of baseball and countered with this: True, bat speed is the key in hitting a baseball a long way and steroids could help in that regard. In golf its not quite that simple. In baseball you swing a bat and you dont really care where it goes. You just hope it goes a long ways. You simply want to hit it hard. In golf theres still the matter of hitting a fairway or hitting a green. In other words while length certainly helps, accuracy and finesse are also factors. And with an increase in size you could potentially decrease in flexibility and a golfer cant risk that.
In any event, if someone was using steroids, what would be a red flag for Handler? Tremendous muscle growth and body fat reduction in a short amount of time, he said. If theres a golfer who doesnt spend an awful lot of time in the gym and suddenly he has a change in physique that would be a red flag.
You dont need a panel of judges to see that Tiger Woods owns the best physique in golf. In the last decade hes added 30 pounds of sculpted muscle that allows him to very confidently wear the kind of fitted athletic shirts that most of us wouldnt be caught dead in.
Tiger works his butt off and he should get credit for that, emphasized Handler. Thats appropriate growth for the amount of work he puts in.
And Barry Bonds? Thats a little different, he said. Certain things like increased hat size would lead people to believe that, while at this point nothings been proven, the growth wasnt natural. He meets the criteria.
Handler pointed out that Mike Weirs put on 15 pounds in some five years and I can promise you hes experienced appropriate growth for the work he put in.
On Tiger, Diovisalvi said, he wasnt afraid to take some advice from intelligent people as to how a high level of fitness could benefit his game.
Controlling anxiety also helps. Thats why beta blockers would likely turn up in testing before steroids. Cortisone, used to mask pain, is another possibility.
Players will need to be informed. Their doctors will need to be informed. Aches and pains from the knees to the back to the elbow to the shoulder are common in golf.
If guys do test positive, it might be that ignorance was the culprit.
Still, greed remains a powerful force.
If I were playing for a million dollars every week Id want to know that everyone else was playing by the rules, Handler said.
Ultimately, neither trainer expects much to come of the initiative, least of all a baseball style blowup.
I think the medias applied pressure through all the coverage and maybe the TOURs being proactive, said Diovisalvi.
What are they going to find? Very little if anything at all, other than to say look we have to do this because thats what you do in the modern times.
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.