Enloe family

With wife fighting cancer, SMU's Enloe faces new reality

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 7, 2018, 1:45 pm

SMU’s season resumes next week, and head coach Jason Enloe has more on his mind than qualifying scores and travel arrangements.

After each round at the Golf Club of Houston, he will drive to a downtown hotel to see his wife, Katie, who is staying 10 minutes from MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she is now being treated for acute myeloid leukemia.

Best-case scenario, Katie will be there for the next seven to nine months. The doctors aren’t saying much. They’re optimistic they can beat this aggressive form of cancer – the same type that former PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle is battling, for the third time – but they’ve promised nothing, other than a long and difficult road ahead.

“Just a complete shock to our systems,” Enloe said by phone recently. “We didn’t even have time to process it. It was just like, 'Holy s---, is this even real? When are we going to wake up from this bad dream?'”

It has all unfolded so quickly. About a month ago, during a routine self-exam, Katie, 35, discovered a lump in her breast that was firmer and bigger than any she’d felt in the past. Specialists in Dallas couldn’t pinpoint the problem. The Enloes braced for a breast-cancer diagnosis, but more tests revealed the blood cancer. With an assist from Amy Mickelson, Katie was quickly admitted to MD Anderson, the nation’s top-ranked cancer hospital, where she’ll receive treatment through at least August.

“We’ve settled in for a long, arduous journey,” Enloe said.

Last week, Katie endured five rounds of chemotherapy (with two or three more cycles to go). They spent the rest of the week in the hotel, watching movies and going for walks, ordering room service and sorting out their complicated short-term plans. She is feeling strong, and she’s in good spirits, but the Day 14 marker is approaching. That’s when most patients feel the chemo’s wrath, when their hair falls out in clumps and sores develop in their mouths.

The next step – a bone-marrow transplant – is the most critical. They need to find the perfect match. Doctors say they really only get one shot.

“It’d be nice to have a percentage, to know if you’ve got a good chance or a bad chance,” Enloe said, “but they haven’t really given us that kind of prognosis. So we’re betting on the doctors and modern medicine.”

Jason and Katie met through mutual friends in 2007, when he was still trying to carve out a career on the then-Nationwide Tour, and they married two years later. Two nights after their wedding, they went on a double date with Katie’s sister, Kandi, and one of Enloe’s pro golf buddies, Hunter Mahan. Those two hit it off immediately and married the following year.

“We’re a tight family,” Mahan said, breaking down over the phone, “and you just never know in life. This is what family is for, to support each other.”

And now the Enloes need that support more than ever.

When the family first received the diagnosis, the Mahans offered to bring the Enloes’ two young children – Emma, 5, and Maddie, 2 – on the road for two weeks. After stops in San Diego and Phoenix, and visits to Sea World and the PGA Tour Academy, the kids flew to Houston late last week to see their mom for the first time. Their stay didn’t even last 24 hours, after Katie began to feel ill.

“That was the worst part,” Enloe said, “seeing her tell them goodbye.”

He knows he can shield his kids from the truth for only so long. For now, he told them that Mommy is sick, and that her doctors are four hours away in Houston, and that the medicine will make her better, and that she’s going to be there for a while. Emma is already starting to ask more difficult questions.


Katie, Emma and Maddie Enloe (courtesy: Enloe family)


“I don’t want them to be affected by this too much,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to look in the rearview mirror and say, ‘Mommy was sick for a little bit,’ and we don’t think much of it.”

At home in Dallas, Enloe is in his fourth year running the men’s program at SMU, with responsibilities to his players and their parents, his recruits and his bosses. Everyone is planning to support Katie’s battle this spring with "TOGETHER WE STAND" bracelets, with ribbons or patches on their shirts and hats. He hopes his players are inspired.

So far Enloe has skipped a few weekday practices but never qualifying rounds. Last weekend, he addressed the team for the first time, providing an update on his wife’s health and offering some perspective, about how they should never take the women in their life for granted. “That role, being a mom,” he said, “is way harder than being the CEO of any major company.”

Because of his hectic, 24/7 job, he had no choice but to hire a nanny to help out on weekdays and when the Mustangs are on the road. In Houston, Katie’s mom, Debbie, has moved in, and a close friend visits often, bringing food and helping with laundry. With hotel expenses piling up, they’re looking into renting a corporate apartment, something more comfortable with more space for their extended stay. The Mahans recently started a YouCaring page for the family, and since it went live, more than 270 donors have raised nearly $75,000. (You can help here.)

“It’s crazy to fathom, and until it happens to you, it feels very far away,” Mahan said. “We don’t know what’s around the next corner, but we’re trying to alleviate any unnecessary stress.”

Still, Enloe can’t help but feel overwhelmed. All of Katie’s responsibilities around the house are now his. Even a simple task like paying the bills was eye-opening. “I didn’t even know where the checkbook was,” he said. “It’s stuff I haven’t had to worry about in the longest time.” 

And taking solo care of his two kids … well, that was an adjustment, too. His first night alone with them, the youngest got sick and didn’t fall asleep until 10:30 p.m.; the oldest helped and was up even later. “It was a s---show,” Enloe said. But he knows that Katie is counting on him, and that he has to be the “lead dog,” and that this is their new normal for the next several months.

“I’ll probably fail miserably,” he said, “but it won’t be from a lack of trying.”

This week, he is settling into a new routine. On Mondays and Wednesdays, after practice, he shuttles the girls to ballet class. He’s going to be a dance dad for a while, and that’s fitting – his kids have taken after Katie and Kandi, who were cheerleaders during the glory years of the Permian High School football team, the group made famous in “Friday Night Lights”. Every so often he checks in with Katie through texts and calls, but the conversations aren’t long. She needs to rest, and to stay positive, and that’s hard when so many emotions are involved.

“I’m scared to death,” he said. “I’m more scared about this than anything I’ve gone through golf-wise or personally, just because I have kids. They’re counting on me, and they usually count on mom. I just don’t want to screw it up.”

At night, when SMU practice and dance class and dinner is over, when the girls are bathed and tucked into bed, his mind wanders in so many directions, into dark and scary places, but he tries not to linger there long. There’s too much to do. He’s taking it hour by hour, day by day, trusting the doctors and praying for good news, for his family of four to be together again soon.

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Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

 

A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”