Donalds loss gives ammunition to critics

By Associated PressMay 23, 2011, 4:35 pm

European TourCASARES, Spain – After stumbling over the final hurdle at the World Match Play Championship, Luke Donald may have given more ammunition to critics who claim he still lacks that ruthless edge when it matters most.

His breakthrough victory at the Accenture Match Play in Arizona in February suggested a cure had been found to “Luke Donald Disease” – a condition cruelly invented by an American journalist in 2009 to describe the Englishman’s inability to close out a big tournament.

Critics were briefly silenced, but they may return with renewed vigor after his latest setback, a 2-and-1 loss to Ian Poulter in the World Match Play final just when the No. 1 spot in the world ranking was there to be taken.

Donald produced some majestic performances throughout the week at the Finca Cortesin course, breezing through the group stage and reaching the final with an uncompromising 5-and-3 thrashing of third-ranked Martin Kaymer early Sunday.

“He played like a machine,” said a bewildered Kaymer. “It was like a PlayStation, it was unbelievable. It felt impossible for me.”

Donald was the heavy favorite to make a defiant statement in the final a few hours later, defeating Ian Poulter to take over as No. 1 for the first time.

But he left his short game and putting in the locker room, losing 2 and 1 in a curiously error-strewn display that didn’t corrolate with what he had produced before in Andalusia. With the No. 1 ranking tantalizingly close, had Donald been struck by an attack of the jitters.

“I didn’t execute my shots when I needed to and that’s disappointing,” said Donald, who five hours earlier didn’t put a foot wrong against Kaymer. “I left too many shots out there.”

It was Tiger Woods, addressing the media on the eve of the U.S. Open in Pinehurst in 2005, who famously talked of Donald as a player who “plods along.”

That description can surely now be consigned to history. True, Donald can be methodical and slow-paced in his approach, but 14 straight match-play victories, including singles and doubles matches in the Ryder Cup, before his defeat to Poulter is no record for a mere plodder. Neither is 13 top-10 finishes in 14 events before traveling to Spain for the World Match Play.

However hard it will be, Donald will endeavor to put this setback behind him and make a renewed bid for Lee Westwood’s No. 1 spot next week at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, England.

“I’m not too concerned with the rankings,” Donald said. “That kind of takes care of itself but I’ll keep knocking on the door and we’ll give it another try next week.

“Not getting the victory was the disappointing thing. I think the world ranking will come if I keep playing the way I am playing.”

With match play appearing to be his strongest suit, he will hope he hasn’t missed his best opportunity.

Regardless of all his top-10 finishes in 2011, he has won only one stroke-play title in five years – the 2010 Madrid Masters.

His consistency in all departments of the game and his ability to salvage something from seemingly perilous situations makes him ideally suited to match play, but he came up against someone molded in his own image: Poulter.

“He’s gritty, he gets the job done,” Donald said of his Ryder Cup teammate. “He’s not an easy opponent to play and he did what he needed to do.”

Looking back on how well he played in Spain, Donald will be wondering how he didn’t come away with the No. 1 ranking and unprecedented back-to-back titles in the world’s two high-profile match-play tournaments.

It remains to be seen if the loss to Poulter sows any seeds of doubt in Donald’s psyche just at the time he looked ready to shut his critics up once and for all.

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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

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Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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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