Emotional Olazabal lauds Ballesteros spirit

By Associated PressMay 7, 2011, 4:24 pm

European TourTERRASSA, Spain – Jose Maria Olazabal played through tears Saturday, overcome by grief following the death of his close friend and former Ryder Cup partner Seve Ballesteros.

Olazabal, who teamed with Ballesteros as the most successful pairing in Ryder Cup history, broke down as players honored Ballesteros with a minute’s silence at the Spanish Open, hours after the 54-year-old golf great died of brain cancer.

Olazabal and fellow Spanish player Miguel Angel Jimenez both wept during the somber silence, the pair comforting each other with a long embrace. They then went out and played the third round as best they could.

“I just played the most difficult round of my life. It was very tough to make it to the first tee and hit the first drive,” said Olazabal, who shot a 3-over 75.

“I didn’t doubt about playing today. The last thing he would have wanted would have been for me not to play. I don’t think there will ever be another player like him. There can be others that are very good, but none will have his charisma.”

The 45-year-old Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, choked up while answering reporters’ questions about Ballesteros.

“Obviously, he has been present all the time,” he said. “Our relationship was so close. I always felt privileged for all the moments that we shared together, and there have been many. Even though I knew what the situation was, when the moment arrives you are never sufficiently prepared.”

Playing partner Colin Montgomerie said Olazabal was “in floods of tears most of the day. He has lost an older brother almost.”

“It was very difficult to get too much out of Jose Maria—he was very tearful and filling up. You could see in his eyes the great loss he feels and they’ve been a great support for each other. He did well to play at all today,” said Montgomerie, who partnered with Ballesteros in a number of Ryder Cups. “It was his brother, really. It was a very, very sad day for him.”

Olazabal lauded the strength and “fighting spirit” of the five-time major champion, who he knew was ailing after their last meeting April 16.

“He wasn’t well but he was lucid. We spoke about a lot of things and memories of the Ryder Cup,” he said.

Olazabal sported a small black wreath on his baseball cap that many other players and club staff wore on their lapels to honor a player who won a record 50 times on the European Tour.

Flag pins were kept at half staff on a day with an overcast sky and chill in the air. One fan embraced Olazabal as he made his way to the clubhouse.

Olazabal, who will captain the European Ryder Cup team across the Atlantic in Medinah next year to become the second Spanish captain after Ballesteros, recalled his first meeting with an idol turned friend nearly 30 years ago.

“I was an amateur and he called me to play a charity match. He surprised me very much and I was very excited about it,” Olazabal said. “I have lived so many moments with him so it’s hard to pick just one but, without a doubt, the moments of the Ryder Cup, especially ’97.”

That was the year Ballesteros captained Europe to victory on Spanish soil at Valderrama, a special moment for Jimenez.

“I was his assistant; it was a very special week. Seve’s passion for the Ryder Cup was one of a kind,” said Jimenez, who raced from the 18th hole to reach the minute’s silence in time. “The thing that really stands about him is his determination, his tenacity and his passion for everything that he did.”

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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