By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Scott Stallings never knew what it was like to be injured.
He’s found out the hard way this season.
Stallings suffered a rib injury in January and then suffered a herniated disk two weeks ago.
“I played four tournament healthy the whole season,” Stallings said Tuesday at The Greenbrier Classic, where he’s the defending champion.
It showed in the results.
Stallings has missed seven of his last eight cuts and two weeks ago pulled out of the Travelers Championship after the disk injury popped up “out of nowhere.”
He flew home to Tennessee for an MRI and saw a spine specialist. Stallings had “13 or 14” therapy sessions in seven days trying to get ready for this week.
“Everything worked its way out the way we wanted it to,” said Stallings, who was able to avoid having a cortisone shot. “We didn't have to do any drastic measures, just kind of a lot of patience and time.”
Earlier this season that wasn’t the case.
Stallings couldn’t play without taking medicine, and when he did things went even worse.
”It altered a lot of things,” Stallings said. “I played the Masters on purely pain medicine, just trying to get through. Obviously you don't want to play every week like that, but I wasn't going to miss the Masters. If you look at the two tournaments directly after the Masters, I played awful and I think it was directly a result of trying to play without it and the realization that that wasn't necessarily possible.”
Stallings missed the cut at Hilton Head and New Orleans in those next two starts after the Masters, shooting 80 in the first round both times.
He missed his next four cuts, too, and five of his next six leading up to this week.
“It is what it is,” he said. “It's definitely a learning experience. I've never really dealt with injury before, let alone two just completely out of nowhere, really no fault of my own or no fault of anybody else's. I can learn from it and hopefully make me better for the rest of my career.”
Here would be a pretty good place to start a turnaround.
A year ago, Stallings birdied the 18th hole -- twice -- in about a 20-minute span on his way to a playoff victory over Bill Haas and Bob Estes.
The next day, Stallings was wearing shorts and a t-shirt when he went down and cleared out his locked and wandered out to the 18th green, where a corporate pro-am was taking place. The golfers didn’t recognize him until Stallings his life had changed on that green the day before.
“It was really cool to be when there was 30,000 people around the green to when there was five of us,” Stallings recalled. “That was one of the best memories I had from the week.”
Note: All times Eastern
Tuesday, July 3
11:30 a.m. -- Scott Stallings
Noon -- Jimmy Walker
12:30 p.m. -- Billy Hurley III
1 p.m. -- Tiger Woods
2 p.m. -- Tom Watson
Wednesday, July 4
After pro-am -- Phil Mickelson
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- So far, the 2012 season has been a "lackluster" one for Scott Stallings. His words, not ours. He even went so far as to say that lackluster "would be an understatement."
Stallings, though, is being a bit hard on himself. After all he tore cartilage in five ribs, as well as an intercostal muscle, after the Sony Open in Hawaii. He tried to play through the pain, entering three more events, before heading home to Tennessee where a doctor suggested an MRI that revealed the damage.
Even after a month's rest and an ample supply of painkillers, Stallings has been searching for the kind of form that enabled him to win the Greenbrier Classic as a rookie last year. Until Thursday, that is, as he shot a 66, only his third sub-70 round all season, to take the lead at the Memorial Tournament.
"I wasn't able to work out, wasn't able to do the things you need to do to play against the best players in the world," Stallings said, alluding to the self-doubt that crept into his mind during the 35-day layoff. "Now I'm cleared and happy to be able to play injury-free.
Stallings, who just got the go-ahead to hit the fitness trailer two weeks ago, birdied three of his last four holes to seize a one-stroke advantage over Erik Compton and Spencer Levin. He hit nine fairways, 13 greens and used just 25 putts on a course he says he "loves" after tying for 20th last year and at a tournament that is his favorite non-major.
"It was a great start," Stallings said. "I definitely haven't
played very good up to this point. ... I stayed positive all
throughout being injured and stuff like that. I kept telling
myself that it was only a matter of time before a round like this
was coming around.
"... My caddie and I came in on Sunday, they gave us a golf cart, and played 27 holes and just kind of ran around the golf course. So I became more and more comfortable with it as the week went on."
Stallings played the par 5s particularly well on Thursday, making a chip-in eagle at the seventh hole and three other birdies. The eagle, which moved Stallings to 3 under, seemed to jump-start his round.
"That was kind of the moment that my caddie is like, all right,
here we go," Stallings said. "I was kind of starting to build some
momentum. I started hitting some really good shots. ... Obviously
any time you have a little chip that goes in like that, it's a
bonus. But it was kind of the moment -- I think that was the most
under par I'd been since Kapalua. And that's a long time ago.
"To be 3 under through 7 and kind of be able to build upon that was something that was pretty big instead of just kind of being there and hanging around. So hopefully we can build on it for the rest of the week."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The doctor basically told Scott Stallings to take the TV remote, put it in his right hand and wrap duct tape around them both.
Complete rest. That's the only way the torn cartilage and bruised ribs Stallings suffered while being treated for a stiff back after flying back to the mainland from Hawaii would heal.
"I was having some stuff done to my back to my ribs to kind of loosen it up," Stallings said. "Nothing any different than I have in the past. But I woke up the next day and I couldn't hit it 200 yards."
The doctor didn't want Stallings to get his heart rate accelerated because it could make his lungs expand and acerbate the situation. So for the better part of the next six weeks Stallings and his wife Jennifer spent some quality time together -- and he became something of a chef, thanks to Stewart Cink.
"I was frustrated dealing with the injury and he said, man, I just bought a Green Egg," Stallings remembered the conversation they had about the trendy grill at a Bible study prior to the Northern Trust Open. "He sent me some barbeque books and we grilled all the time. It was nice. I cooked every day. My wife had never seen me cook before. I got really good at pork tenderloin. You smoke it, you grill it. We do it all."
Due to the freak injury, Stallings has played sporadically -- and with limited success – this year. He withdrew after the first round of the Humana Challenge and missed six cuts in his next eight starts. The situation has been "incredibly frustrating" since Stallings felt the work he put in during the offseason had left him well-prepared for 2012.
At the same time, Stallings knows he's in the first year of a two-year exemption for his win at The Greenbrier Classic as a rookie in 2011, so the sense of urgency isn't quite the same as it might have been.
"I am thankful for the position I'm in," Stallings said. "I mean, I have time but it's difficult. In golf you don't really have a Triple A where you can go rehab yourself. You kind of get thrown back in the fire. So it's tough to struggle in the public eye but at the end of the day, it's golf. It takes one good shot or one good week. That's kind of where we're at."
Stallings is one of 16 first-time participants at THE PLAYERS Championship this week. But it's not the first time he's been to TPC Sawgrass -- he waited out the 2011 PLAYERS as the first alternate but didn't get in. Tiger Woods, who was nursing that ailing left knee and Achilles, did withdraw – but after he started the first round.
"Obviously it was his opportunity to feel like if he could play he could play," Stallings said. "I got to feel what he felt at the beginning of the season where some weeks I felt I was ready to go and then Thursday came around I couldn't swing. So I learned a lot. For me to come down here and experience the golf course was great. I played twice, my caddy got to participate in the caddy tournament."
This year it's for real, though.
"I'm out here to compete," Stallings said. "I've worked really hard. I've got a great group (for the first two rounds) with Davis Love and Jim Furyk. So it's an opportunity to get out there and learn from a guy who's won here and learn from a guy who lives here. Hopefully we kind of feed off each other and play well and get in position for the weekend."
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Transitions Championships have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at the Copperhead Course.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Zach Johnson/Geoff Ogilvy/Padraig Harrington, 8:27 a.m.,
How strong is the field this week? This three major champions are among 17 that showed up.
John Huh/David Toms/Jonathan Byrd, 8:37 a.m., No. 1
Rookie John Huh finds himself in an "A" pairing after his win last month at the Mayakoba Classic.
Luke Donald/Justin Rose/K.J. Choi, 1:33 p.m, No. 1
The world No. 2 (Donald) tees it up with last week's winner (Rose) and a two-time winner here (Choi).
Bud Cauley/Ryo Ishikawa/Tom Lewis, 2:04 p.m., No. 1
The oldest player in this group, Cauley, is all of 21 years old (in all fairness, he turns 22 on Friday). Lewis, who turned pro after last year's British Open, makes his U.S. debut.
Gary Woodland/Webb Simpson/Scott Stallings, 1:22 p.m., No.
This trio finished 1-2-3 last year at Copperhead. Stallings is making his return to the TOUR after missing four weeks with an injury.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – A nagging injury to his intercostal muscle forced Scott Stallings to withdraw from the Northern Trust Open on Thursday.
Since Stallings withdrew prior to starting his first round, he was replaced by Vaughn Taylor. Scott Brown is now the first alternate.
Stallings tweeted: Frustrated not be playing this week. Riviera and @NTrustOpen is a great course and event. Headed home to get healthy for magnolia lane
Stallings first injured the muscle during the week of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He withdrew from the tournament after shooting a first-round 74 and missed the cut in his next two starts.
LA JOLLA, Calif. – Scott Stallings has withdrawn from the Farmers Insurance Open, paving the way for alternate Roland Thatcher to play at Torrey Pines.
Stallings withdrew from last week’s Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation due to a rib injury. He tied for 22nd at the Hyundai Tournament of Championship and missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Shortly after his WD was announced, Stallings tweeted: No go for me this week. Doc did and MRI yesterday with no tear or break but said I need some time. Sorry to @FarmersInsOpen willcunextyear