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PGA Tour: Double-Header - WGC-Bridgestone / Barracuda Championship: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 05 Aug 2015, 2:51 pm

1).Last week's affair at the Quicken Loans Championship looked a pretty lack-lustre affair beforehand, but turned into an interesting weekend at picturesque Robert Trent Jones GC in suburban Washington D.C.

2).Yeah, yeah, yeah, We've heard it all before:
"Something just wasn't quite there. I kept telling people I was close. There's just one(?) little thing that can turn it around. I made two little fixes and here I am."
Except that this time it wasn't Tiger Woods yacking away, it was Troy Merritt who outplayed a competitive leaderboard and richly earned his first win.


3).A bit more about Troy Merritt, another Iowan, like Zach Johnson, and an understated Tour Pro whose win appeared to be especially popular among his Tour mates.
Before Sunday, his biggest cheque was the $1M he earned as the winner of the mostly forgotten Kodak Challenge, in 2010.
And this was Merritt's first Top 50 finish since his near miss at Hilton Head in April.
No fluke though. One of the Tour's least publicised stats, but one of its more significant ones is "proximity to the hole". Merritt led that stat last week and his "proximity" of 23ft 11 inches was the best by a winner this season - by almost three feet!
He also became the first Tour player to record multiple rounds of 61 or better on Tour since Ryan Moore in 2012, and only the fifth since 1983.

4).What about the other guy who's always close, just looking for "reps" and carrying his "feels" from practice to the course? Tiger Woods, of course, and Eldrick also scored his best finish since April, T18, courtesy of a much-improved tee-to-green performance and a 2013-vintage short game. With his course experience which few had and a feeling that he might be under less scrutiny than at any event so far this year, we fancied him to play better and, except for his "moving day" effort which was backwards, he looked pretty good. But he still tries to throttle the ball when it's not necessary, which usually results in the head dip and contortions that have marred his swing for two years. It's just not necessary, Tiger, and it's what's holding you back from tournament contention.

5).Woods misses this week's Bridgestone and it's beneath his dignity to play Barracuda, in Reno, so next up is the PGA at Whistling Straits where his record is not great: T24 and T28. Depending upon his result there, "perhaps" he'll play Greensboro in a last ditch effort to qualify for the FedEx Play-Offs. Not sure of the definition of "perhaps" though.

6).One imagines he'll need to win the PGA to have an earthly of making the Presidents Cup Team, but one golfer who will be on the plane to South Korea is Steve Stricker, as Vice Captain.
Jay Haas also has Couples and Love helping him out, but one Haas who didn't help himself at all on Sunday was Jay's son Billy who played himself into an early lead by brilliantly birdieing six of his first ten holes, then butchered his way home to finish six strokes adrift. No way does Dad Jay pick Son Bill as a Captain's Choice, so a few crucial events coming up for Billy Boy, one of the very best guys to follow on the course.

7).Lots of noise-level chatter about the Presidents Cup this week with Nick Price lobbying again for a Ryder Cup-style points system in an attempt to level the playing field. Very unlikely that Tim Finchem will accede to such a request, any more than he did to similar representations from Greg Norman in years past. But one piece of good news for Nicky is that Danny Lee continued his surging form to finish T4 behind Troy Merritt and make himself an almost certain Captain's Choice, (at the very least).

8).Two Tour events this week: the WGC-Bridgestone, in Akron, Ohio, where there should be four fine days of weather and scoring, and the Barracuda Championship, in the altitude of Reno, Nevada.
This week and next (PGA Championship) will be pivotal in setting the stage for the final tournament before the Play-Offs.
As things currently stand, the following are all outside the points number expected (say 475 given that MacKenzie and Stallings are unlikely to play until October):
Goosen, Clark, Westwood, Donaldson, Ishikawa: All currently just inside the Top 125 and playing this week.
Donald, Els: Not playing until the PGA.
Schwartzel, Kaymer, McDowell, Ogilvy, Villegas, Choi, Baddeley, Blixt, Davis, Gonzo, Jhonny Vegas: Outside the Top 125 and playing this week.  

9).The Barracuda Championship is played to the "Modified Stableford" scoring system; Geoff Ogilvy revived his Tour career by winning last year and went on to play well enough in the Play-Offs to reach the Tour Championship. Andres Romero needs that sort of kick-start to put the icing on the cake of a decent summer; he's fared well here before and sorely needs a win! The same could be said about Vaughn Taylor and both he and Romero could warrant a shilling each way investment in a field of 132 where only about 60 will be competitive.

10).And so to boring old Firestone CC and the "Bridgestone", where the past two winners will be sitting out the action.
Tiger Woods would love to be here, the site of 10% of his titles.
And Rory McIlroy would love to be defending his Championship and earning his second WGC in three months.
At least Rory is waxing somewhat optimistic: "Working hard every day to come back stronger #don'tmindthegrind". Let's hope he'll make it to Whistling Straits and give the US Media something else to speculate about apart from Jordan Spieth's pursuit of an "American Slam". !!


Last edited by kwinigolfer on Wed 05 Aug 2015, 4:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Bob_the_Job Wed 05 Aug 2015, 3:14 pm

Cheers Kwini good write up.  Troy Merritt's story is interesting and in some ways it should be an inspiration to professional golfers all over - he turned professional in 2008 and in 2010 finished 125th on tour (or last place) to just retain his card by a few dollars and the skin of his teeth.  But he stuck at it, has improved and now has a win under his belt, is 38th on the Fed Ex and is in the world top 100.  

In other ways it shows the gulf between the majority of the tour and the super stars - McIlroy turned professional only the year before Merrit, Fowler the year after him and Spieth in 2012.

EDIT: Forgot to mention - he came across as a nice, natural guy on the interviews with him that I saw.
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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 05 Aug 2015, 4:54 pm

Bob,
The thing that stuck out for me in Merritt's win was his composure, especially when compared to his equally talented (physically anyway) playing partner Kevin Chappell who once again crumbled when the pressure ratcheted up.
Chappell could be the best player without a Tour win, but he won't get it until he learns to brush off, Spieth-like, his bad shots.

Anyone know of any other injury doubts for the PGA apart from Rory?
Noren (what's wrong with him?) and Kirk the only absentees that I'm aware of.

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Post by I'm never wrong Thu 06 Aug 2015, 9:46 am

First (and 10th) tee off times are from 09.25 local and 14.25 UK time. Sky comes on the air at 18.30 UK time but don't know when they start live golf.

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Post by SmithersJones Thu 06 Aug 2015, 9:50 am

What sort of rubbish commitment is that? Over 4 hours missed before they even start to show it - give it to the BBC I say! Whistle
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Post by I'm never wrong Thu 06 Aug 2015, 10:00 am

SmithersJones wrote:What sort of rubbish commitment is that? Over 4 hours missed before they even start to show it - give it to the BBC I say! Whistle

Yahoo Yahoo
I think, to be fair, that is when the Golf Channel starts up.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 10:04 am

FYI: Coverage here begins at 18.30 your time. Not sure whether that is foreplay or actual golf. Regardless, Golf, or commercials occasionally interrupted by Golf, will certainly commence by 19.00 at the latest.
Wish we could get BBC Sport . . . . . . !

Barracuda coverage starts about 23.00 your time, for three hrs.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 11:42 am

"it's beneath his dignity to play Barracuda"

This could be true, and by that I mean he doesn't just think it is beneath his dignity but it is objectively beneath his dignity?

It is hard to work out what he would gain from playing in the event whatever way you decide to answer the question above. Anything less than a win would be perceived as a failure and even a win would come with the caveat that he beat a weak field and shouldn't be in a position to miss a WGC.

Would a strong performance in Reno work even from a sports psychology perspective? Could playing well in Reno help Tiger believe he is getting better and build his confidence for the more important events?
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:15 pm

Mac,
Woods is the man who says he needs more "reps". A good result in Reno would edge him closer to the Play-Offs.
And: I have little doubt that he considers every tournament he plays to have a "weak field", at least relative to the expectations he has of himself.
What is he these days? #262 - he certainly would just be middle of the road in the Barracuda event.

NBC Sports saying that Alex Noren suffered an "upper body" mishap at Chambers Bay, interpreted by them as some sort of rib injury; due back in September, in Holland.

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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:29 pm

If you're hacking it around at world # 262, you shouldn't be turning down tournaments.

The World #262 tennis player is Tennys Sandren (I've never heard of him either), would he turn down events like 9C is?

9C should stop living in, and trying to dine off the past. By not playing in comps, he's doing the equivalent of us when we go out for a gash/bounce game, but can't do it with a scorecard in our hands.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:40 pm

Super

I agree that Tiger is hacking it around at the moment but compared to most #262's there is a lot more prior experience to suggest he could get a lot better. Tiger could start playing like a top 50 player from the next time he tee's it up, whereas others around him in the world rankings probably wouldn't be expected to show such drastic improvement.


(Although at the moment I am more convinced that he is on the way out of the top echelons game and by this time next year facing the prospect of retirement)
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:42 pm

Mac, you could make a case like that about lots of has-beens from lots of sports, but it doesn't mean they should be playing in top events just because of where there game used to be 6 years ago.

Any player around him could start playing like a top 50 player. It happens all the time, it happened last week with Merritt.

9C is lucky to be as high as 262.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:49 pm

Tiger was the best player in the world during 2013, so we are not talking six years ago.


Out of interest, can anyone remember the series of events in 2014 that got tiger into the mess he currently is?
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:53 pm

Mac, there was no series of events, he simply doesn't have a brain, there might have been a fake injury in there though

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:57 pm

When did he have the dramatic fall to his knees moment for example?
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 12:59 pm

Probably after watching Lethal Weapon one night Mac.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:05 pm

If you look at his OWGR record he finished of the 2013 season with T3 in the Turkish airlines open then a 2nd (to open champ ZJ) at his own event. Then starts 2014 with T80th at the farmers insurance.

At what point did the back "injury" arise and also when did he start working with Como?

In concentrating on how poorly he is currently playing it seems an analysis of what has happened to him since late 2013 has been missing.
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:06 pm

I don't care why Mac, i'm simply delighted he's so bad.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:16 pm

Do the latest pictures of Rory's nether regions suggest he had two ankle/lower leg injuries?
He seems to refer to that too: "4 and a half and 3 and a half weeks ago respectively. I've come a long way since."

One's an accident. Two's a . . . . . . .

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:17 pm

kwini

Where did you read that?
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:22 pm

Mac, it's an Oscar Wilde quote.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:25 pm

His Instagram account and pic on the Beeb.


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Post by sirbenson Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:34 pm

And he just released a video of him hitting his driver on Instagram....Is he trying to hype up his own return haha?

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:43 pm

PGA Tour: Double-Header - WGC-Bridgestone / Barracuda Championship: Notes from the Ballwasher 2B24BA4800000578-0-image-a-1_1438854143598

Rory McIlroy wrote:rorymcilroy 4 and a half and 3 and a half weeks ago respectively... I've come a long way since.

I think this is a comparisson of the healing progress bewteen 3 and 4 weeks post injury, not two separate injuries.
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 1:49 pm

Yeah, Possibly.
Looks like someone had a right go at him. Where's the red card emoticon when you need it?

Balls in the air in half an hour in Akron - early going should see perfect weather for scoring.

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Post by SmithersJones Thu 06 Aug 2015, 2:12 pm

super_realist wrote:

The World #262 tennis player is Tennys Sandren (I've never heard of him either)

Got to be just about the best example of nominative determinism in the world of sport!
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Post by raycastleunited Thu 06 Aug 2015, 2:33 pm

super_realist wrote:If you're hacking it around at world # 262, you shouldn't be turning down tournaments.

9C should stop living in, and trying to dine off the past. By not playing in comps, he's doing the equivalent of us when we go out for a gash/bounce game, but can't do it with a scorecard in our hands.

But if you've got 14 majors, countless WGC's, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank you can do what you want, and really should only be turning up to events you fancy.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 2:37 pm

Trouble is, Woods can't only turn up to many of the events he fancies, no WGC's, no FedEx Play-Offs and that's almost half his normal schedule right there. Two more years like the last two and he won't even qualify for the US Open.

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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 2:42 pm

raycastleunited wrote:
super_realist wrote:If you're hacking it around at world # 262, you shouldn't be turning down tournaments.

9C should stop living in, and trying to dine off the past. By not playing in comps, he's doing the equivalent of us when we go out for a gash/bounce game, but can't do it with a scorecard in our hands.

But if you've got 14 majors, countless WGC's, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank you can do what you want, and really should only be turning up to events you fancy.

The point is he consistently says he's "nearly there" and "Just needs more reps" to be back, yet, he he hardly ever plays and only turns up in events where he's made to look every bit of the ranking he holds. He fancies himself too much to start a tournament which more befits his current level.

No wonder he's struggling. He's playing against guys who are light years ahead of him and living in the past isn't going to get him out of his amusing Marianas Trench slump.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:09 pm

Super

Thats some pretty sloppy language for someone who claims to have some sort of geology background. The Marianas trench is a zone of subduction and not a slump.
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:20 pm

Mac, I was meaning it more of a difference to where 9C's game is, to where everyone elses is.

I.e. Spieth at the top of the mountain, Woods in the despair of a trench.

Well done on googling what subduction is though.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:30 pm

No worries, I was just ribbing you.

Anyway, back on point.

can anyone help my unravel the history of tiger from late 2013 to present?

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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:41 pm

I suppose you could ask the same of Westwood and Donald.

Just because someone can be consistently good for a long time, isn't a guarantee they will always maintain such a high level.

Maintaining a continuously high standard in any sport over a career is actually very rare, so we shouldn't be looking for reasons really. It's just what happens to people in sport.


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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:46 pm

Mac,
Try injuries, new coach, another girlfriend dumping him, everyone else getting better, not getting into some of the money-for-nothing events he used to, you name it plus all the stuff we don't know about.

Perverse thing is, though, he's clearly improving, played well/better last week and should be back at it. Anyone else would be, recognizing they don't have any more of a divine right to #1 than they do to #262.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 3:50 pm

Kwini

I know of the factors contributing to his poor play, I was hoping to create a timeline of the events. It is important to remember that during 2013 he was easily the best golfer in the world and was only hampered be nerves in the majors. What was the path from that position to his current horrendous form?

Remember that it is not that he has declined in form since his car crash, but that he got back to the top of the game and then suddenly and catastrophically lost form in 2014.
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:07 pm

His form may not have declined "since his car crash", but he certainly hasn't had any wins in four of his last six seasons, and a big fat ZERO Majors.
Yes, he played well in 2012 & 2013, but nothing since his diskotomy and nothing since going to Como.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:14 pm

Interesting article in The Telegraph about Adidas exploring the sale of some of its golf brands:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11786995/Adidas-explores-sale-of-struggling-golf-brands.html

It can say what it likes about the "sport's declining popularity" and closure of golf courses in the US but my layman's perception also is that Under Armour apparel has comprehensively displaced other brands in sporting goods stores in the US, so not surprising if Adidas and Ashworth sales are going down the drain.

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Post by raycastleunited Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:15 pm

Tiger should just say sod it and go back to Butch and his old swing. Long term his body wouldn't be able to cope with it, but he might have one season of glorious golf before he breaks down and that would be enough to go out in style.

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Post by I'm never wrong Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:20 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Interesting article in The Telegraph about Adidas exploring the sale of some of its golf brands:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11786995/Adidas-explores-sale-of-struggling-golf-brands.html

It can say what it likes about the "sport's declining popularity" and closure of golf courses in the US but my layman's perception also is that Under Armour apparel has comprehensively displaced other brands in sporting goods stores in the US, so not surprising if Adidas and Ashworth sales are going down the drain.

One for Mike Ashley?

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:28 pm

Kwini

Would you be able to tell me the dates of Tigers back injuries and when he started working with Como?
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Post by super_realist Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:29 pm

Why don't you employ your favourite tool Mac and do some googling?

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Post by raycastleunited Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:39 pm

I'm never wrong wrote:
kwinigolfer wrote:Interesting article in The Telegraph about Adidas exploring the sale of some of its golf brands:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11786995/Adidas-explores-sale-of-struggling-golf-brands.html

It can say what it likes about the "sport's declining popularity" and closure of golf courses in the US but my layman's perception also is that Under Armour apparel has comprehensively displaced other brands in sporting goods stores in the US, so not surprising if Adidas and Ashworth sales are going down the drain.

One for Mike Ashley?

Spot on INW! Or a Chinese / Korean target


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Post by SmithersJones Thu 06 Aug 2015, 4:42 pm

Never knew they owned Reebok.
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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 5:39 pm

It's a traffic jam at the Bridgestone; looking forward to the TV coverage as can't figure out why the scores aren't lower.

And one of my picks, OK Sergio, has just gone bogey, bogey, snowman. Not good.

Last week's winner has just gone quicken alone in last place, apparently on merritt.

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Post by I'm never wrong Thu 06 Aug 2015, 6:05 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:And one of my picks, OK Sergio, has just gone bogey, bogey, snowman. Not good.
Isn't a snowman 8? Sergio is showing 9 on the WGC scorecard.

You'll be fighting my pick - Lahiri for last place.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 6:25 pm

Oh dear, posted first as an 8!

Nice Round 1 from Kjeldsen, but it's the usual suspects at the top now, Day, Fowler, it's like they've finally come of age.

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Post by I'm never wrong Thu 06 Aug 2015, 7:17 pm

Well done Rrrrriiiiicccckkkiiiieeee!!!!

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 06 Aug 2015, 7:56 pm

It looks like Firestone is playing reasonably firm. So interesting to hear Rickie say they must have watered the course as it was "softer" than during practice.

Good comeback for Martin Kaymer - a round of even par after bogeying his first three holes. Must be a good bet e.w. for Whistling Straits.

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Post by McLaren Thu 06 Aug 2015, 9:22 pm

If anyone wants a bit of conspiracy, then here you go. I showed the above photo of Rory's ankle to a doctor with a fair amount of orthopedic experience and asked what the chances are that he would be back for the PGAT. The response was that they had never seen such extensive bruising from a sports ligament tear and it looked more like a break.
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Post by SmithersJones Thu 06 Aug 2015, 9:46 pm

Mac's a hospital porter!
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