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Mayfair returns quickly from surgery to play
By BOB HARIG
Published August 16, 2006
MEDINAH, Ill. - Only 13 days ago, Billy Mayfair had surgery for testicular cancer. Today, he is at Medinah Country Club and planning to play in the 88th PGA Championship, which begins Thursday.
Mayfair, 40, a five-time PGA Tour winner, has endured an amazing two weeks. It was July 30 that Mayfair believed something might be wrong. He was in Michigan for the Buick Open, and after consulting with several doctors, he was advised to return home. Cancer was discovered, and he had surgery Aug. 3.
"I got scared when I found this big lump," Mayfair said Tuesday. "I knew it wasn't right, not normal. Obviously I was real scared. A lot of things go through your mind.
"The biggest thing is I caught it early. ... The reason why I think I can play so soon is, we caught it early, it didn't spread. And I had a fabulous doctor (Dr. Gil Brito) who took good care of me and stitched me up real well."
Mayfair said he has taken it slow on the golf course, even to the point of playing just nine holes Tuesday.
"Everything looks great, trust me," he said. "Just walking, hitting shots, just mentally trying to get ready to play golf again. It's fun. If I get mad and swing a club or kick something, I'll get mad at myself because I should be thankful for just being here. And I am."
MEMORIES: One of the biggest putts Tiger Woods had made in his career came at Medinah during the 1999 PGA Championship. It was at the 17th hole during the final round, where he had an 8-foot putt to save par. If he missed, he'd have fallen into a tie with Sergio Garcia. Woods made the putt, then parred the final hole for the victory.
But it was hard for Woods to take in that memory when he returned to Medinah because the 17th green has been moved closer to the water that fronts it.
"I can't go back and hit putts there and reminisce anymore," Woods said.
PLAYING FOR CLARKE: Padraig Harrington wrestled with the decision to even play this week.
The Irishman learned Sunday morning that his friend Darren Clarke's wife, Heather, had died after a long battle with cancer.
"Obviously Darren made it quite clear that the players should go and play. It's what Heather would have wanted," Harrington said. "That made our decision a lot easier to be here."
Harrington said he would donate his prize money this week to cancer research or a charity of Clarke's choice.
"I would be delighted to hand whatever over this week," said Harrington, who stands to earn more than $1.3-million should he win. "Obviously not being able to attend the funeral ... when you do go to funerals you can't be much help anyway. Darren has his choice of charity, and I'll donate whatever I win this week. For me, it feels like I'm doing something practical this week."
Clarke, who is from Northern Ireland, played through his wife's illness at her urging. Finally, at the British Open last month, he said it would be his last tournament for the "foreseeable future." He is not expected to play in next month's Ryder Cup.