Donald fires 63 to grab lead at Nedbank Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 5, 2014, 3:53 pm

SUN CITY, South Africa – A charging baboon nearly ran into Luke Donald on Friday at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The Englishman managed to get himself out of the way, however, and also managed to shoot a 9-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the European Tour's season-opening tournament.

With seven birdies on the first 10 holes, the former top-ranked player was one shot off Lee Westwood's course record at the Gary Player Country Club, giving himself a chance of a memorable end to a pretty average and so far winless 2014.

The only time Donald panicked on the course nestled in the wilderness of northern South Africa was when a large baboon came running toward him as he made his way to his ball. Donald was warned by playing partner Shane Lowry, quickly dodged out of the way and the baboon kept going.

''He didn't really pay any attention to me in the end but gave me a bit of a fright when Shane said, 'Watch out!' They are big and strong and you wouldn't want to mess with them, that's for sure,'' Donald said. ''So I got well out of the way. (I) jumped pretty high.''



Donald's round was four strokes better than anyone else and put him at 10-under 134 overall. He leads Ross Fisher (70) by two strokes, with Alexander Levy (70) a further two shots back at 6 under.

''I felt very in control,'' said Donald, who last won in November 2013 and last claimed a title on the European Tour more than two years ago. ''It's been a while since I felt like that.''

Donald found some of the form with his putter that has been missing since he became the first player to top the end-of-season money lists in both the United States and Europe in 2011. He made nine birdies and no bogeys.

South Africa's top tournament stopped midway through the round for a moment's silence on the anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, the country's former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Players removed their caps and bowed their heads after a horn sounded across the course for the tribute.

Brendon Todd was another big mover with a 4-under 68 to tie for sixth. Tommy Fleetwood moved into a tie for sixth with his 67, the best round after Donald.

Behind Fisher and Levy, Danny Willett is fourth at 5 under and Marcel Siem is 4 under. Fleetwood, Todd, Thongchai Jaidee, Charl Schwartzel and Tim Clark are part of the tie for sixth.

Westwood, a two-time Nedbank Challenge champion, improved on his opening 72 with a 2-under 70, while U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, off a busy 2014 schedule, slipped down to a tie for 24th in the 30-man field with a 3-over 75.

There is no cut at the invitational tournament, which has a $1.25 million winner's check and is the first event on the 2015 European Order of Merit schedule.

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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