Ames beats Leonard McNeill in Disney playoff

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2009, 3:18 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Stephen Ames was munching on sliders and drinking a few beers at his coach’s house Saturday night when he realized that he needed all the help he could get to make his final round of the year a special one.

So at the place where the entrance gates declare “Where Dreams Come True,” Ames figured he should give it a shot.

“I wished for 64,” Ames said, “and I got that 64.”

Ames won his second title in three years at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Sunday, edging George McNeill and Justin Leonard in a playoff to become the oldest winner in the tournament’s history.

The 45-year-old Ames was calm and cool on greens that were too slick for most of the field on a sun-baked day at Disney World. The Canadian finished with an 8-under 64 for the clubhouse lead, watching as McNeill (67) and Leonard (67) failed to pass him.

It was the first win of the year and fourth career victory for Ames, including The Players Championship in 2006. This time, he had a few extra people in the gallery.

Among those who followed him on the back nine was his 10-year-old son, Ryan, who provided a little extra motivation walking up to the 18th tee needing a birdie.

“He said, ‘Dad, you need to hole this,”’ Ames recalled. “I said, ‘All right, I’ll try my best.’ It was a very casual round. It’s Mickey Mouse, come on.”

Ames got some help.

Leonard rimmed out a 16-foot putt for the win in regulation, even beginning to pump his fist in celebration only to watch the ball spin away. He twice left putts short when he was eliminated on the first playoff hole – also the 18th.

“To be this close and not be able to pull it out is disappointing,” Leonard said. “Obviously, I thought I made it by my reaction. I was surprised it didn’t go in.”

Ames also caught another break.

After McNeill saved par on the first playoff hole despite landing his tee shot between the trees, he had a 6-foot putt on the 15th to force a third playoff hole. McNeill struck the ball right on the line, but it trickled around the edge and popped off to give Ames the win and the $828,000 first-place prize.

“It made a full 360,” McNeill said. “It went down in the hole, and then it spit back out.”

There were other rallies that didn’t end up on the leaderboard.

Sunday was the last day for players to secure a tour card for next year. Only those who finished the year in the top 125 on the money list are guaranteed full status. The next 25 will at least get conditional status and be able to enter more than a dozen tournaments.

For as much back and forth as there was throughout the week, in the end, there wasn’t a lot of movement.

Former world No. 1 David Duval already had lost his full status by missing the cut. Robert Garrigus also missed the cut and was knocked out of full status for next year.

Jimmy Walker and Nicholas Thompson were the only two players to move inside the top 125 after beginning the week outside. Walker finished at No. 125.

“It’s tough. You can’t do anything,” Walker said. “You just have to sit back and relax. Not relax, you can’t relax. But I did all I could do.”

There were plenty others who cut it close.

Rich Beem shot a 68 to finish at 10 under for the tournament. The 2002 PGA Championship winner finished at No. 122 for the season.

He admitted the pressure to perform this weekend got to him in the first two rounds. He talked to his coach Friday night and said that helped him find his swing.

“I must say it was about as odd as I’ve ever felt thinking about it. I never expected myself to feel the way that I did,” Beem said. “When somebody tells you that you can’t do your job next year when you know you’re so close, that’s not such a good feeling.”

After turning in his scorecard, Beem stood behind the 18th green watching a monitor with the projected money list. His name flip-flopped twice, and he had to walk away. He later walked into the media center to check the minute-by-minute standings.

“I’m sweating,” he said. “But things look good.”

Ames is going to have to rework his schedule now, too.

He wasn’t planning to try to play at the next year’s first event in Maui. That just happens to be the place the Ames family vacations every winter, and they were planning to leave a few days before the tournament.

Looks like they’ll need a new itinerary.

“I always tell Gary Player golf always gets in the way,” Ames said. “I don’t want to play golf. I want to sit on the beach and relax.”

Now he’ll get to do both.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm