Bad weather to be expected for an October Ryder Cup

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2010, 2:11 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Another cup pushed the Ryder Cup into October, so naturally there was plenty of second-guessing when the weather became a major issue.

The opening matches Friday were halted for more than seven hours by heavy rain at Celtic Manor, the first suspension at the event since 1997.

When the Ryder Cup returns to Europe at Scotland’s Gleneagles in 2014, officials are hoping it will be held earlier in the year. But obviously, there are no guarantees about the weather.

“We are becoming unlucky,” said George O’Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour. “This is a localized thing. Golf tournaments have lost days to rain before. We play the Wales Open here (in June), and we have lost a day’s play as well, which is just unlucky.”

The Ryder Cup is traditionally held in September, when there might have been a chance of better weather in Wales. This is the latest the event has been staged in Europe since 1965, when it was held from Oct. 7-9 at Royal Birkdale in southern England.

But the PGA Tour concluded its lucrative FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship last week in Atlanta (where, in an interesting twist, it rained the final day as well), so the Ryder Cup was bumped back on the calendar.

“We have to have the best week when the players are available,” O’Grady said. “Whereas it’s quite easy for us to move our weeks, this is difficult with the scheduling in the United States, and it’s a constant discussion with the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and their schedules.”

The PGA Tour’s current television agreement ends after the 2012 season. The European Tour and PGA of America are hopeful that leads to less conflict between the two cups.

O’Grady said there were no regrets about picking Celtic Manor to host this year’s event.

“It does rain here,” O’Grady said. “We have been here in the buildup. We have had some beautiful days in that time the last couple of weeks. We have also had some horrendous ones.”

Celtic Manor said the heavy rains – nearly 1.5 inches fell during a 22-hour period beginning Thursday evening – were a freak occurrence, equaling about 40 percent of what the area normally receives during a month at this time of year.

“More than ($1.6 million) was spent on drainage during construction of the Twenty Ten course, but there comes a point following persistent, heavy rainfall when the ground becomes saturated,” the club said in a statement.

SORRY, NO REFUNDS: Those 45,000 fans who paid for eight matches and didn’t get to see any of them completed will not be getting their money back.

How about another tournament at Celtic Manor next year?

The host club said there is no provision at the Ryder Cup for refunds because of inclement weather, but it encouraged fans to keep their Friday tickets pending an announcement “regarding ticket opportunities on European Tour competitions in 2011.”

It’s not surprising that no refund is forthcoming. Tickets costs a minimum of about $160 each day, which means one day of sales generates more than $7 million in revenues.

The players were appreciative of those who came out in the morning, creating a stirring atmosphere around the first tee even in a steady rain, and those who stayed around to watch a few more holes late in the afternoon after a delay of more than seven hours.

“It was amazing,” England’s Luke Donald said. “If I was in that situation, I’m not sure what I would do. But we have loyal fans and it’s a big part of Europe’s success.”

As for giving those fans some financial consideration, Celtic Manor said it would make an announcement on at the end of the event.

LEFTY’S COMEBACK: Phil Mickelson got off to a rough start, and it didn’t look like things would get much better when he returned from a long rain delay. From the middle of the sixth fairway, he dumped his first shot after the break into the water.

But Mickelson, playing with Dustin Johnson, got things together around the turn, making three straight birdies to leave the Americans just one hole down to Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer when play was halted after the 12th.

Maybe Lefty was inspired by his wife, Amy, who cheered him on in just her second trip to the course since being diagnosed with breast cancer. She turned up at Augusta National when her husband won the Masters in April.

“Me and Phil started to get it going,” Johnson said. “So we are going to come out tomorrow, do the same thing, be aggressive and that’s all you can do.”

LUKE’S MARK: With the sun setting behind the hills and darkness closing in, Luke Donald faced about a 6-footer to halve the ninth hole for the Europeans.

He decided to wait until Saturday to take the potentially crucial putt.

“Tomorrow is going to be fresh green and it was getting dark, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking it,” said Donald, who is playing with Padraig Harrington. The Europeans are 1 down to Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton.

The American rookies certainly felt comfortable about their games, even though they were the most debated team sent out by captain Corey Pavin. Overton rolled in a mammoth birdie putt from off the back of the green at No. 1, the long-hitting Watson made birdie at the second, and the Americans were still up at the end of the day.

Jittery as he headed out for his first Ryder Cup, Overton calmed himself with his big putt.

“It was probably the most unbelievable shot of my life,” he said. “To start the day like that was awesome.”

TIGER TALES: Playing in an unfamiliar position, Tiger Woods had a nice, steady day at the course. A couple of birdies left him in a match that was all-square through 10 holes.

Woods was sent out in the third match with Steve Stricker, a change from past Ryder Cups, where he was used in the leadoff or anchor roles. The move shouldn’t have been surprising, given Woods’ rough year on and off the course.

“It’s basically an eight-hole boat race,” Woods said. “Basically, that’s what it boils down to. We have to go out there and start off on the par 5 (No. 11) and make some birdies.”

Woods put the Americans ahead for the first time at No. 9 with a 40-yard pitch to about 2 feet for a birdie. Ian Poulter, who was partnered with Ross Fisher, made a birdie putt at the 10th to even up the match before play was called because of darkness.

DIVOTS: With the schedule change, Tiger Woods will not be benched. There were questions going into the Ryder Cup about whether captain Corey Pavin would sit the world’s top-ranked player for at least one session. … When play resumed, Steve Stricker hooked his approach on the fourth hole into muck so thick that the ball plugged and he could barely see it. As he looked at the predicament, a fan said, “Welcome to Wales.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.


For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.





Avg. Viewers P2+
































  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.


Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.