AP News

Notes: Faxon returns from multiple surgeries

(AP) — In reviewing last season, the PGA Tour media guide notes Brad Faxon had season-ending foot surgery in August but is expected to be ready for the 2008 season.

It just didn't say when.

Then again, Faxon didn't realize he would have another ACL surgery on his right knee — his third since 2003 — or a microfracture surgery that followed, a complicated procedure in which tiny fractures in the bone begins the process for cartilage to rebuild.

The good news for Faxon is his doctor has cleared him to play next week in the Ginn sur Merr Classic in Florida, his second start of the year. The first one came at Turning Stone three weeks ago, where he missed the cut and wondered if he would be one-and-done after swelling in the knee.

"Being out on tour is not the same as being home in a cart," he said.

Faxon wanted to make sure he wouldn't do any more damage to his knee, and doctors gave him the go-ahead last week.

"My season is a wash anyway," Faxon said. "I just want to make sure that when January gets here, I'm ready to play. It would be a hard winter if I can't play, especially not having played the last year."

Except for Turning Stone, his last official event was the Wyndham Champion in August 2007.

THE PERFECT HOST: Morgan Pressel, who last year signed an endorsement as Kapalua's touring pro, had a share of the lead going into the final round of the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic. She said she tried to stick to her routine by going to dinner and getting to bed.

Turns out there's more to the story.

Upon learning Kapalua officials were meeting with a potential sponsor Saturday night, Pressel invited herself to dinner to meet with company officials. Then, she went out and won the tournament with a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th hole.

WESTWOOD WAITS: Lee Westwood now has gone 27 tournaments without winning dating to the British Masters last year, but he still rates this season as a success. He was a serious threat to win a major for the first time, finishing one shot out of the U.S. Open playoff. He also came close to winning his first World Golf Championship, finishing one behind Vijay Singh.

More than those close calls, he looks at consistency. He has had a dozen finishes in the top 10, including seven top 3s.

"It's a fine line between winning a golf tournament and finishing second and third," Westwood said last week in Portugal. "So I could quite easily be sitting here with four, five, six wins."

Padraig Harrington would be among those who understand.

From 1998 through 2001, Westwood won 12 times and had four runner-up finishes on the European tour. Harrington won three times and was runner-up 14 times during that same stretch.

"It's just one of those things you can't really quantify and put your finger on the difference between winning and finishing second," Westwood said.

LPGA PRO-AMS: For all the fuss over LPGA players who can't communicate well during pro-ams, Juli Inkster believes the issue goes far beyond language, particularly with Asian players.

The LPGA contemplated a policy demanding English efficiency from its players until it backed down under public criticism. There's still plenty of discussion of the topic, though, and Inkster said earlier this month that it was more about culture.

"The Asian players ... it's kind of a respect thing, a pecking order thing," Inkster said. "They are brought up to really honor their roots and their grandparents, and the people before them, and the higher-ups. So all of a sudden, you put an 18- or 19-year-old girl that's maybe not really comfortable with her English.

"Playing with four CEOs - men or women - she is not going to feel comfortable going up there and making small talk. That's not the way they are brought up."

Her solution? Have them accompany a veteran who makes everyone comfortable in pro-ams - and there's no shortage of those on the LPGA Tour, whether it's Inkster, Meg Mallon or Lorena Ochoa.

"Count that as their pro-am, just so they can learn," Inkster said. "It's teaching these girls how to play a pro-am more than teaching them English. If I get four Korean men in this pro-am, even though I don't speak their language, I'm going to make it fun for them."

KARLSSON STAYING PUT: Robert Karlsson, on the verge of winning the Order of Merit in Europe, has earned enough in the majors that he could be eligible to take up PGA Tour membership next year.

But it sounds as though the Swede is staying put instead of playing the minimum 15 required for U.S. membership.

"(I'm) not really interested in playing 15, especially with the Race to Dubai coming here," he said, referring to Europe's new points race culminating in $20 million in prize and bonus money available in Dubai at the end of the year.

Karlsson played 28 times last year and already has played 22 times this year. The ideal schedule would be 25 events a year around the world, although like other players, he finds it hard to cut back.

"There's too many good events around, that's the thing," Karlsson said. "If you can be about 25, that would be good. You would like to remember what the kids look like."

LEWIS WAITS: Stacy Lewis closed with a 66, the best score of the week at the Kapalua LPGA Classic, to tie for sixth. Now she waits six weeks before her biggest event of the year - the final stage of LPGA qualifying.

If not for a puzzling policy, Lewis wouldn't have to worry about Q-school.

Lewis made $47,077 at Kapalua, pushing her earnings in seven events to $247,464, which would have put her 57th on the money list. Those finishing the equivalent of the top 80 on the money list get their cards. But the LPGA does not count earnings from the U.S. Women's Open - Lewis finished third in her pro debut - for nonmembers.

Instead, Lewis was credited with $84,977 from her six sponsor exemptions. She missed the cut in one event after flying across the country for the first stage of Q-school.

DIVOTS: Hal Sutton tied for 23rd in his Champions Tour debut and earned $14,620, his largest tour paycheck since he tied for 41st in the 2004 Colonial and made $20,620. ... Ben Crane shot all four rounds in the 60s in Las Vegas and tied for 53rd. ... Two players who reached the third round of the PGA Tour Playoffs in St. Louis - Jay Williamson and Martin Laird - are outside the top 125 on the money list. ... Of the 95 eagles last week in Las Vegas, 14 of them were on par 4s. ...

STAT OF THE WEEK: Las Vegas has produced a first-time winner on the PGA Tour the last five years, the longest streak of any event. None of the previous four have won again.

FINAL WORD: "Parking spot with your name on it. I don't get that anywhere else." — Hal Sutton on his Champions Tour debut.

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