IRVING, Texas - Brad Faxon decided not to have surgery after tearing ligaments in his right knee toward the end of 2003. He had only two top 10s last year and wound up 76th on the money list, his lowest position since 1990.
Any regrets about surgery?
"Every day," Faxon said candidly.
A recent MRI showed the ACL is completely torn with no hope of healing on its own. It feels OK, and Faxon said it doesn't bother him swinging the club. "It's not a hindrance to golf," he said.
What he believes set him back was being unable to play other sports.
Faxon lives in Rhode Island and puts his clubs away for the winter. He has a history of doing well on the West Coast because he stays competitive in the offseason by playing squash, table tennis and working out.
"I couldn't do any of that," Faxon said. "I think that competitive stuff I missed from playing those sports has hurt. Every year, after I moved back to Rhode Island, I always got off to great starts on the West Coast having not touched a club... I literally played two days before going to Hawaii.
"The last two years, I haven't done anything competitively off the course. I think it's interesting."
Faxon had at least two top 10s on the West Coast every year since 2000, including his victory at the 2001 Sony Open. Since injuring his knee, he has made it to the weekend only once in two years on the West Coast - a tie for 29th this year at the Nissan Open.
Faxon felt like he turned the corner at Quail Hollow, where he played the weekend at 1 under par and tied for 44th. "Confidence-wise, I made a huge step in two days," he said.
As for that surgery?
"I think I'm going to take care of it this fall," Faxon said.
ROYAL ARRIVAL: Retief Goosen is playing the Byron Nelson Championship for the first time, and while he didn't get the red-carpet treatment at the airport, he got something even better.
The 93-year-old tournament host was there to pick him up.
"His wife was standing there and I thought, 'Well, it's nice of her to greet me,'" Goosen said. "And then we walked up to the car and she said, 'I've got somebody waiting in the car for you.' I thought maybe it was my caddie. And it was Mr. Nelson sitting in the front seat.
"I was a bit surprised," Goosen said. "It was a great way to arrive at a golf tournament."
THE MAD SCIENTIST: Davis Love III recently pulled his old persimmons driver out of the closet, not out of curiosity, but as the guinea pig for his 11-year-old son's science project.
The hypothesis was which driver - wooden or titanium - hits the new golf balls farther. Love used the MacGregor driver he hit in college.
"Downwind, it was OK," Love said. "But anything into the wind, or any crosswind, it was a joke. You couldn't put any spin on it, and it would just nosedive. You had to hit hard and put spin on it. These balls don't spin."
The last time Love used a wooden driver, he had the Titleist 384, a wound ball. The long hitters generated plenty of spin, which enabled the ball to rise and carry. With titanium drivers and multilayer balls that don't spin as much, the idea is to launch the ball higher.
"If you took Lanny Wadkins' ball shape, and Vijay Singh's, it would make an egg shape," Love said.
He didn't disclose the results, but it sounds as though he helped his son with a dynamite graphic.
OPEN SCOUTING REPORT: A cool spring meant there was hardly any rough at Quail Hollow for the Wachovia Championship. Apparently, it's not much better down the road at Pinehurst No. 2.
Chad Campbell was among those who took a detour to Pinehurst for a practice round before the U.S. Open next month. Along with noticing some tee boxes moved back, Campbell said the rough was down and the grass sparse in spots.
"There's a little work that needs to be done," Campbell said. "They're sodding around some of the greens. The Bermuda (grass) didn't come in because of all the weather, so there's not much rough right now. They need some rain and hot weather."
Temperatures were in the 80s during the final round at Quail Hollow. Help might be on the way.
DOWN FROM THE BOOTH: The results might not show it yet, but Paul Azinger says he is having no trouble making the transition to the broadcast booth as an analyst for ABC Sports.
Azinger has played 10 times and made six cuts, and his best chance was his first tournament, when he started the final round of the Sony Open three shots out of the lead and tied for 17th.
But he was encouraged by his last four weeks, where he made the cut each time and tied for 21st in New Orleans.
"What I'm finding is that I found my golf swing," Azinger said after a tie for 56th in the Wachovia Championship. "I've just got to figure out how to score. I three-putted nine greens this week. It's too bad, because I struck it really well. I just putted like a donkey."
ABC has not televised a PGA Tour event since the Match Play Championship the last week of February. Azinger, who is 137th on the money list, will play Memphis and Memorial before ABC resumes its coverage at the Booz Allen Classic, and he plans to play Congressional, too.
"I've had no trouble compartmentalizing the two," Azinger said. "Shifting gears, initially, was tough. But once I'm doing the golf, I'm completed engulfed in golf. And broadcasting is another entity. It's not like I finish my round, put on a tie and go into the booth."
DIVOTS: Jack Nicklaus will be playing tournament golf in consecutive weeks - first at the Memorial, beginning June 2, then the Bayer Challenge outside Kansas City, Mo., on the Champions Tour at a course he designed.... Fred Couples tied for second in the SK Telecom Open in South Korea and moved up to No. 35 in the world. Couples will lose points over the next month, and he needs to stay in the top 50 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.... Annika Sorenstam not only lost her streak of 43 rounds at par or better, it was her first finish over par in a 72-hole event in 25 tournaments dating to the 2003 John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in Tulsa, Okla.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The last 12 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour have been decided on the last hole, eight of them in playoffs.
FINAL WORD: "There are plenty of big hitters that aren't good players." - Padraig Harrington, asked whether golf was all about power.
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