Colonial good place for Toms after playoff loss

By Associated PressMay 19, 2011, 12:10 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – David Toms is in a good spot the week after coming oh-so-close to his first PGA Tour victory in five years.

After losing in a playoff at The Players Championship, Toms isn’t far from home and playing one of his favorite tournaments at the Colonial.

“I’m just glad this tournament is next because this is one I don’t have a problem getting up for just because I like it,” Toms said Wednesday. “For me, this is great, great timing with this event here with my game in good shape. I feel like I can play well here.”

Toms, the Louisiana native who last won on the PGA Tour in 2006 in Hawaii, forced a playoff with K.J. Choi at The Players Championship with an impressive and rare birdie on the closing hole. Then at the famed No. 17 island hole for the playoff, Toms missed a 3 1/2-foot par putt to extend play after his 18-foot birdie chance slid just past the hole.

“It is behind me,” Toms said. “I guess the only thing that keeps coming up are when people come up to me and say I wish it would have worked out better for you. But for myself, it’s just all about moving forward.”

Toms tees off Thursday in a group with Matt Kuchar, who at No. 10 in the World Golf Ranking is the only top-10 player in the field.

For the first time since 1968, when Byron Nelson’s name became part of the title of the other PGA Tour event in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Colonial will be played first. The Nelson tournament is next week at TPC Four Seasons, about 30 miles east of the course Ben Hogan called home that is hosting this week.

Defending Colonial champion Zach Johnson is also coming off a strong finish at The Players Championship, a closing 66 that put him in 12th place.

But last month after missing the cut at the Masters and Hilton Head, Johnson was doing some evaluation and typing notes into his phone in preparation for a meeting with his sports psychologist.

“The way I’m thinking, the way I’m relating to my caddie, the way I’m practicing,” Johnson said. “All sorts of things. From one end of the spectrum to the other. We just hashed it all on paper and tried to condense it.”

Whatever they did obviously helped since Johnson finished sixth at the Wells Fargo Championship in his only other tournament since that session.

“It would be more mental than physical, for sure,” he said. “Physically, I’m better now than I was last year. … Everything is going in the right direction.”

Johnson won at Hogan’s Alley with a tournament-record 21-under 259 last year, when unusually calm winds throughout the week made for ideal scoring conditions. For Thursday’s opening round, there is a forecast for winds around 20 mph.

Along with the plaid jacket Johnson got for winning Colonial, his name is now engraved on the Wall of Champions by the first tee.

The only player who has won consecutive Colonial titles is Hogan, a five-time champion who won back-to-back twice (1946-47 and 1952-53). The other players who have won twice are Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Ben Crenshaw, Al Geiberger, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry, Nick Price and Lee Trevino.

“It’s a humbling honor. You are talking about one of the more elite fraternities in sports, let alone in golf,” Johnson said. “The tournament is always high on my list of wanting to win. It always has been. It still is. Just because I won it once doesn’t mean I don’t want to win it again. I’ve become partial to that plaid.”

A nice match to the green jacket he got as the 2007 Masters champion.

Pavin and Perry join Johnson among 11 former Colonial champions playing this week.

Toms has three top-five finishes his past seven tournaments since missing consecutive cuts in February. Colonial, where he has finished in the top 10 four times and was 13th last year, marks his fourth consecutive week playing.

After The Players Championship last weekend, Toms was inundated with text messages, emails and phone calls.

“A lot of positive response, especially from people that I’m close to. The ones that mean the most are the guys that I compete against out here … they know how difficult it is,” Toms said. “I had a lot of heartwarming messages, and I wouldn’t say I feel like I won, but certainly it was good exposure for me as a player and as a person.”

Some of the messages referred only to his clutch birdie at No. 18 that got him in the playoff.

With 12 PGA Tour victories and more than $35 million in career earnings to his credit, the 44-year-old Toms doesn’t have to win tournaments to prove anything. Except maybe to himself.

“I made the statement last year that it wouldn’t change my life in any way to win,” he said. “But it would just help me mentally to know that, No. 1, I could still do it. But also that it’s worth it.”

Worth the time and effort put into golf and the time spent away from home and his family.

“It’s not about, hey, it’s my job or that’s the way I make money. I’ve kind of passed all of that,” Toms said. “It’s all about the competition and proving to myself that I could do it again.”

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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

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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