Andrea Could Pack a Wallop at THE PLAYERS

By Associated PressMay 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods no longer is the most daunting name at THE PLAYERS Championship. Someone named Andrea joined the strongest field in golf Wednesday.
That was the name assigned the first storm of the year, off the coast of northeast Florida and arriving just in time to rain on the PGA TOUR's parade. After all, one reason the tour moved its flagship event from March to May was to avoid the kind of wet weather that has caused the tournament to end on Monday three of the last six years.
'Welcome to sunny, dry, warm Florida,' commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday. 'We never said it doesn't rain in May. We just said the patterns are different, and it's not going to rain as much.'
Players won't be the only ones tested when THE PLAYERS begins Thursday with the deepest field of the year on a refurbished Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass for $9 million, the biggest purse in the golf.
Sawgrass is nothing like it was last year, when Stephen Ames blew away the competition by closing with a 67 for a six-shot victory.
Tired of a little rain leaving small rivers in the middle of the golf course, the TOUR spent more than $12 million to make the famed Stadium Course as close to indoor golf as the game allows.
Every fairway was stripped of its grass and replenished with soil that allows for better drainage. Ditto for the greens, which resembled empty pies shells as workers installed a vacuum under each putting surface and restored the original design, except for a few greens in which the slopes were made less severe.
And because the tournament moved to May, the common Bermuda grass was left alone.
'It looks very different,' said Woods, who last saw these conditions at Sawgrass when he was a skinny 18-year-old who won his first U.S. Amateur title here in 1994.
But that was after he played it in sunshine, before anyone realized Andrea would show up and shower the course. That means the TOUR's plan to build a course to withstand rain might get its first big test.
Even in the on-and-off rain, the fairways looked like carpet, minus some of the roll.
'The greens stayed pretty firm,' Justin Leonard said after playing the back nine. 'They didn't soften any.'
It probably won't be as firm, fast and frightening as some players predicted when they realized there hasn't been too much measurable rain over the last month, just the stench of smoke from wildfires in neighboring Georgia.
One other change is the mounding around the greens, which have been reduced slightly and in many cases mown down. Instead of hacking onto the green, players now have options whether to chip up the slopes or use the putter, much like at Pinehurst No. 2.
The one conclusion just about everyone drew was summed up best by former PLAYERS champion Adam Scott.
'There's going to be no faking your way up to the top of this leaderboard,' he said. 'Anytime it's soft, you can play bad and score pretty good. The ball won't run out of the fairway. The ball never runs into any trouble. Once it comes down to having to strike the ball well to get any spin on it to hold a green, that's when you see the guys who are playing their best.'
And who might that be?
If recent history is any indication, it could be anybody.
The list of champions have ranged from the long (Woods and Davis Love III) to short (Fred Funk), from great iron players (Ames and Hal Sutton) to remarkable short games (Craig Perks).
'Anyone can win here,' Woods said. 'That's the beauty of this golf course. There really is no advantage to taking out driver and bombing it down there because of the trouble, but also have everything pinches in. Over the years, we all hit the ball to the same area and just play from there.'
Still to be determined is the effect of the rough, which will be about 2 1/2 inches, about half as high as it was. But the nature of Bermuda grass is that players don't know how it will react, and the targets at Sawgrass can be awfully tiny.
'The rough is much more playable than it used to be,' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. 'But that could turn out to be more difficult because you're going to go for greens out of the rough when you never used to, and you're going to bounce over the backs, and you're going to have some trouble that way.
'It's still Sawgrass, still a tough course. Just a little different.'
Woods is coming off a two-shot victory at the Wachovia Championship, his third of the year, and his ninth on the PGA TOUR over his last 12 starts dating to the British Open last summer. It wasn't his smoothest victory at Quail Hollow, not the way he was struggling with his swing, and coach Hank Haney again was at his side during practice rounds.
THE PLAYERS has a varied and impressive list of winners, the majority of them major champions. Still missing from that roll call are Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk -- both live near the course and spend most of their time in practice at Sawgrass.
Mickelson has tied for third in his last two tournaments since switching to swing coach Butch Harmon, although he didn't have a serious chance to win, either. He remains a work in progress, and his best finish at THE PLAYERS was a tie for third in 2004, four shots behind.
'I think it will take some time for me to feel comfortable and confident with a couple of changes,' Mickelson said. 'But I'm starting to see the difference. There's no little, quick fix to years of poor driving.'
About the only quick fix was to the golf course. Work began five days after Ames hoisted the trophy, and the course was open again about seven months later. Now comes the first test, likely to be observed in similar fashion.
From under an umbrella.
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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
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.