Despite loss Couples loves coming home

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2010, 6:16 am

2010 U.S. Senior OpenSAMMAMISH, Wash. – Fred Couples joked that most of his fans probably left after he took a triple-bogey eight on the second hole Sunday.

They stuck around, giving the Seattle native a rousing ovation at every hole during Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Senior Open, even though he finished as a disappointed runner up.

“It was a lot of fun to be here, I can tell you that much. It was great,” Couples said. “I’m kind of an emotional guy. I’m not really an emotional player, I don’t get out there and go crazy. But I can hear them, and it was fun.”

Couples served as the honorary chairman for the event, lending his name to just the second major championship contended in the region in his generation. He thrilled organizers by surging into contention with a 65 on Saturday, entering the final round as the co-leader with eventual champion Bernhard Langer.

But his quest for victory at the U.S. Senior Open came down to a wrong decision at the second hole.

Couples hit a solid drive but it rolled into the first cut of rough on the right side. He had 200 yards to the front of the green and 225 to the pin. He pulled his hybrid to go for the green, then put it back.

“I had never hit it (hybrid) in a spot like that,” Couples said. “I thought if it’s a cut shot, if I don’t cut it, I’m going to rip it over the green. And as it turned out, where the pin was, it might not have been that bad.”

His layup shot was fine, but his third shot was chunked into the greenside pond, leaving everyone in a bit of shock.

“You know I’ve done it,” Langer said. “It happens to most of us. They’re pretty tight fairways out there, certain areas there’s not a whole lot of grass there and it doesn’t take much to when you only have five yards to work with and that’s about what he had, and it’s easily done.”

Couples said it took him a while to get that hole out of his head. He concern was not so much over his chunk but his decision to lay up.

“If I could walk out there tomorrow, I would go for the green, no matter where I hit it,” Couples said. “I think I would beat 8, that’s for sure.”

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF: Javier Sanchez says he’s just persistent.

Sanchez, who finished in a tie for 32nd at 11 over par in Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Senior Open, is originally from Taistan, Mexico. He lived in a one-room farm house with his parents and nine siblings. There was no electricity and no running water. Whatever critter they could shoot or catch, that was dinner.

He saw the opportunity to leave in the early 1980s when relatives in Redwood City, Calif., told him he could get a job there and send money back to help his parents. He did it, obtaining a fake green card and crossing the border at Tijuana.

“I didn’t speak a word of English. I was illegal,” Sanchez said. “Every time the immigration came, everyone just scattered. I got caught a couple times. Each time I came back and tried again. I am persistent. That’s why I’m here.”

He didn’t take up golf until his mid-20s, while working as a dishwasher on a golf course. The game came naturally to him as he went on win local tournaments, play for a junior college team then on several mini tours. Five times, he qualified to play in the U.S. Open. He made the cut once, in 1996, and finished 90th.

Eventually, he married an American woman. After three years together, he was allowed to take a test to gain his citizenship. The couple moved to Georgia, where there were more golf tour opportunities.

He was never in the mix to win this tournament but he can cash check for $15,892 to continue to live the dream.

“You get this tournament once a year. It’s so hard to qualify,” he said. “Anytime you do something like this, it’s special. It brings chills to your skin.”
With most of the attention on the final pairing, Olin Browne quietly put together the best round of the day. Browne made five birdies on his front nine and shot 65. The 30 on the front was the best nine-hole score of the week and vaulted Browne into a tie for third. He was one of four golfers to finish under par.

“I wanted to make as many birdies as I could, and when I turned in 30, I thought ‘here we go,”’ Browne said. “And then I just couldn’t get any putts to go in on the last nine. I hit a lot of really good putts, obviously. I made a couple of great saves on 16 and 18. But once I looked up in the middle of the round and saw that Bernhard was at 8-under, there’s no hope.”

If not for his first round, Browne likely would have been contending on Sunday. He put together even-par rounds of 70 on Friday and Saturday, but wasn’t able to overcome a 73 on the first day.

“I’m glad I strung together three nice rounds. I wish I would have played better the first day, so I could have been more relevant today, but it’s definitely positive for me.”
Tom Kite had a chance to finish in the top five until the 16th, where he made a quadruple bogey 9. Kite finished at 3 over and in a tie for eighth. … Sunday’s crowd was 31,444, the largest of the week. … Tim Jackson was the low amateur for the second straight year. He finished at 11 over.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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