Dorals No 18 shows its teeth on a windy day

By Associated PressMarch 12, 2010, 5:35 am

DORAL, Fla. – Matt Kuchar got to Doral’s 18th tee and immediately groaned.

He wasn’t alone.

The finishing hole at the Blue Monster was downright nasty Thursday in the opening round of the CA Championship, playing nearly a half-stroke over par – making it the toughest on a windy course. In a field with most of the world’s best players, Tiger Woods the notable exception, No. 18 at Doral yielded only five birdies in 68 attempts, with 4.647 being the average score on the par 4.

– Vijay Singh led by one when he got to 18. He made double bogey.

– Francesco Molinari, tied for the lead when he got there. Double bogey.

– Ernie Els, tied for the top spot near the end of the day. Bogey.

In all, there were 18 shots into the water on No. 18. And only when the wind dropped considerably near the very end of the day did the scoring average improve.

The final total: 26 pars, 26 bogeys, 10 double bogeys, and Marc Leishman with a triple bogey after hitting both his tee shot and an approach into the water running down the left side.

“You’re not going to see many birdies,” Kuchar said. “It’s a mean golf hole. We got up to the tee and we expected it, as hard as it was blowing … I expected to see the tees up 30 yards or so and they were up only 10 yards. They could have moved it up 20 yards and it still would have been the toughest hole on the golf course.”

Luke Donald chipped in from a greenside bunker for the first birdie at No. 18 – no surprise, considering he’s 19 of 21 on sand-save attempts this year, after leading the PGA Tour in that statistic last year.

John Senden stuck his approach inside of 2 feet about an hour later for a tap-in 3.

The other three birdies all came near the very end of the round: Steve Stricker made a 45-footer, Padraig Harrington a 15-footer and Dustin Johnson a 10-footer. Not coincidentally, the wind was a touch calmer then, though still blowing.

How strong were the gusts? Put it this way: Masters champion Angel Cabrera walked up 18 holding his cap, about five minutes after a ticket-holder’s hat blew halfway across the fairway.

“It was consistent all day,” first-round leader Charl Schwartzel said. “Consistently strong.”

LEFTY’S DAY: Defending champion Phil Mickelson had three birdies and two bogeys, opening his quest for a second straight win at Doral with a 1-under 71.

He ended the day four shots back, and with no complaints.

“I mean, I know it’s not in contention yet, but my goal was to shoot something somewhat solid today, which I felt I did, and then improve on it every day,” Mickelson said. “So I’ve got to go lower each day.”

He thinks he has the game plan to make that happen.

Mickelson is carrying two drivers this week, something he’s done before – most notably, on his way to winning the Masters in 2006. He’s also tried playing with no drivers, like at the first two rounds of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, something that was widely regarded as a mistake.

This year, he’s planning to go the two-driver route more, putting both his Callaway FT-9 and FT-5 in the bag. Including at Augusta National.

“The driver that I have, the FT-9, it hits the ball long and far, but it’s also very high, and has great carry,” said Mickelson, who took out a 57-degree wedge to accommodate the second driver. “A course like Doral, where it’s very windy, this driver helps keep it down out of the wind, as well as it doesn’t go quite as far as my current driver.”

Mickelson never shot lower than 69 at Doral last year on his way to the $1.4 million winner’s check.

He didn’t play a practice round at Doral this week, because of family responsibilities in Houston with wife Amy, who’s been fighting breast cancer. Mickelson said his wife is doing well.

MOLINARI, MOLINARI: Italy’s Molinari brothers got off to solid starts Thursday.

Francesco Molinari shot a 3-under 69, three shots better than Edoardo Molinari. Edoardo had one of the shots of the day, holing out from 149 yards at the par-4 17th for eagle, helping him get back on track after making bogeys on two of the previous three holes.

They’ll both play at the Masters next month. They’ve been there together before; Edoardo played there after winning the U.S. Amateur in 2005 (and getting paired with Tiger Woods the following year). Francesco Molinari was his brother’s caddie for that trip to Augusta National.

WEATHER WOES: Tee times have been moved up nearly 3 1/2 hours on Friday because of expected afternoon thunderstorms.

Forecasters say up to an inch of rain could fall on South Florida during the day, with the worst of the weather expected later in the day. If everything goes off as scheduled, second-round play at Doral could be wrapped up by about 2:30 p.m.

NOTES: Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was among those watching Thursday. … Robert Allenby closed with four straight bogeys, the most he has strung together since opening the second round of the 2009 Memorial with five straight. That came after he shot a 30 on the front nine, one off the nine-hole course record set by Tom Kite in 1974 and matched by Kite in 1979.

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
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.