Arnold Palmer to turn Bay Hill back to par 72

By Associated PressSeptember 30, 2009, 12:14 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the proud owner at Bay Hill, Arnold Palmer doesn’t want to see PGA Tour players light up the scoreboard. As one of the game’s great entertainers, Palmer also appreciates that the fans like to see birdies.

Entertainment won this round.

Bay Hill will return to being a par 72 for the Arnold Palmer Invitational after the tournament host reluctantly agreed that fans would rather see players score below par, and that a par 5 on the finishing holes could make the PGA Tour event more exciting.

The club switched to a par 70 the last three years by converting two par 5s into par 4s, including the 16th hole, which often is pivotal in deciding the tournament.

“We’re going to go with four par 5s again, with the thinking that the galleries and the people enjoy seeing players make birdies,” Palmer said Tuesday. “We're going to give them an opportunity to make birdies.”

The fourth hole also will be changed back to a par 5.

Palmer believes the course still will be challenging enough when Tiger Woods returns in the final week of March to defend his title. Bay Hill recently reopened after extensive renovations to the bunkering – some were reshaped and moved, others added – along with a new strain of Bermuda grass on the greens and moderate lengthening.

The course played at 7,162 yards as a par 70. Palmer said it would be about 7,400 yards as a par 72.

Besides having new grass, severe contours on some of the greens have been softened, which will allow the PGA Tour field staff to find as many as eight potential hole locations.

Palmer also has a new tee at No. 15 that is across the road, although he doubts that will be used because of congestion. The 18th tee also has been moved back, although only about 10 yards.

The white sand in the bunkers is fluffy, making it difficult to hit a clean shot from fairway traps and reach the green. Palmer said a machine that tamps the sand around the edges will reduce the likelihood of a ball plugging.

Even so, the most welcome change is the 16th, which returns to a par 5 even at a short 511 yards.

It will be the shortest of the par 5s, with bunkers on each side of the fairway and a stream cutting in front of the green. Palmer expects to see plenty of birdies, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

“There’s a risk-reward situation there,” he said. “It’s still going to be short for the pros. The fact is, it will be kind of fun. If a guy is coming down the stretch needing a two-shot swing and hits it on that green and makes eagle, or a guy who has a two-shot lead hits a flaw on his second shot, those two shots disappear quickly.

“Based on that argument, I relinquished and went to the par 5.”

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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