Kayla Mortellaro was losing distance. She had a few shoulder issues in the past, but nothing to this degree.
It kept getting worse, to the point that it hurt 24/7, let alone when she swung a golf club. It didn’t help that she was taking more swings than ever, on the range and in tournaments, to try to stay sharp in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour.
After 11 tournaments, the former Idaho Vandal put her clubs away on the advice of her doctor. She has a torn labrum in her left shoulder and a winged scapula.
“It sits out to the left of where it should be and it doesn’t slide smoothly,” she said. “The theory is to get the scapula stronger and stop the extreme pinching I feel in my shoulders. Another theory is (repairing) the torn labrum.”
The doctor has advised her not to play again this season. She had a couple of cortisone shots and is resting her shoulder for a while. That will be followed by aggressive physical therapy. Mortellaro hopes to avoid surgery, which carries a recovery of four to seven months.
“It’s very much in the air,” said Mortellaro, who returned to her hometown of Phoenix. “Before we didn’t think about the shoulder as an issue, but looking back it probably had an effect on the crispness of my shots.”
Mortellaro has learned a lot about her game and the tour. She wants to work on the mental aspect because “one mistake means you don’t make the cut.” She wants to improve on her 239.9-yard average driving distance.
“There are holes that are 425 yards, straight uphill with no roll,” she said. “Brittany Lincicome flew it 300 yards in the air. That’s a game I don’t know.”
Mortellaro won $9,870 in 11 events, putting her 135th on the money list.
“There’s a process where you can try for a medical extension and if they grant it you’re allowed to play some events (next season) to allow me to try to keep my card,” she said.
Here’s an update on some other players with ties to the Inland Northwest:
Kim Welch (Washington State University) has missed the cut in nine of her 10 events. She’s made $2,746. Welch had one of 12 LPGA holes-in-one this season. She’s 28th in driving distance (258.5) but 100th in driving accuracy.
Wendy Ward has a 73.8 scoring average and has earned $6,676. Ward, who turned pro in 1995 and has played in three Solheim Cups, is closing in on $5 million in career earnings. Ward and husband Nate have a ranch in Edwall, Wash.
Amy Eneroth (Mead High, WSU) has played in eight tournaments and made $2,387. Her best finish was 14th at the Friends of Mission Charity Classic. Her scoring average is 74.9.
Renee Skidmore (Idaho) made four straight cuts earlier this season with her best finish 25th at the Symetra Classic. Her scoring average is 74.7.
Kirk Triplett, who grew up in Pullman, has six top 10s in 13 events. He tied for third at the Principal Charity Classic and was tied for ninth at the U.S. Senior Open. He’s earned $511,517.
Former Moscow Bear Chris Williams made his PGA debut at the Travelers Championship. Williams, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, finished tied for 30th and pocketed $32,584. The former Washington Husky and world’s top-ranked amateur tied for 39th at the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship last week.
Kyle Stanley, ardent Gonzaga basketball fan who lives in Gig Harbor, Wash., has two third-place finishes and has made $1.3 million this season.
Alex Prugh (Ferris High, UW) is close to securing a PGA tour card for next season. The Top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list earn cards and Prugh ($136,397) is No. 14. He’s finished in the top 10 three times, including a second-place finish at the Mexico Championship.
Prugh is first in greens in regulation (76.8 percent), ninth in scoring average (69.9) and 11th in driving distance (307.5).
PGA Tour Canada
Joel Dahmen (Clarkston High) has been in contention on the back nine on Sunday at two straight tournaments, finishing tied for fourth and tied for eighth. The former Husky has made $11,100.
“I went back to my more natural swing of hitting a draw instead of forcing myself to hit a fade,” said Dahmen, who shot a 10-under 62 at the Dakota Dunes Open. “It’s more natural and I can swing a lot more freely when I’m in contention.”