2005: Calcavecchia back in the swing

Mark Calcavecchia making the cut at The Players Championship may seem like no big surprise. But those who watched him play during Thursday’s first round, and witnessed the pain he was experiencing, were surprised just to see him finish.

Calcavecchia has had back problems since the Nissan Open, and thought he had a pulled muscle. After a pain-free week at Doral, Calcavecchia missed the cut at Honda when the back injury flared up. It continued to hurt him at Bay Hill, and on Tuesday and Wednesday at TPC at Sawgrass, Calcavecchia could not play a practice round. He was able to hit only wedges on the practice range.

“That was as bad as it gets,” Calcavecchia said. “I can safely say I now played 18 holes in as much pain as I ever had in my life and made it.”

Calcavecchia, who was paired with Tommy Armour III, was helped by Charlie Bareilles, who happens to work on Armour’s bad back. When Calcavecchia started hurting badly, Bareilles offered his assistance.

“At that time I gave myself zero chance to finish,” Calcavecchia said. “I was just going to take one more swipe on 5 just to see if I could hit it, and I hit it through a tree. About every second or third hole, (Bareilles) was working on me. We fell behind (timewise) a little bit, but without him I don’t think I would have made it.”

Calcavecchia eventually shot 1-under 71 in the first round and followed with 70. At Phoenix earlier this season, he gutted out a painful round and shot 65 the next day, and that thought kept him going.

“That and we’re at The Players Championship, the fifth biggest tournament in the world,” he said. “Do you think I want to sit in my condo for four days watching it on TV?”

44Short shots: Tiger Woods barely extended his Tour record for consecutive cuts made to 140. He made the cut on the number at 1-under 143. The last time Woods made the cut on the number was the 2003 Masters. . . . Andre Stolz hit three tee balls into the water and made 11 on the par-4 18th during a second-round 76. He went from 3 over to 10 over. . . . For only the fourth time in tournament history, the 36-hole cut came below par (1 under). The lowest cut was 2 under back in 1993. The cut was also 1 under in 1987 and 1996. . . . Brad Faxon extended his consecutive cut streak in The Players to 13, best in tournament history. . . . Tim Herron tied the tournament record with six birdies in a row, on Nos. 8-13, in the second round. “I teed off at 7:30 and was still asleep,” Herron said. “That probably helped.”

– Jeff Babineau, Jeff Rude, Rex Hoggard, Alex Miceli

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