Hoch Worth the Wait

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2003, 5:00 pm
MIAMI -- Scott Hoch made the wait worthwhile Monday, winning the Ford Championship at Doral with two birdie putts that he could see all the way into the hole.
Hoch made a 9-foot birdie putt that he might have misread Sunday night in the dark. Then, he played three perfect shots on the 18th to beat Jim Furyk on the third playoff hole.
'I guarantee I wouldn't have done that last night,' Hoch said.
It was a swift conclusion to a playoff that will remembered as much for how it was stopped than how it ended.
Hoch and Furyk, good friends and partners in the Ryder Cup, each had birdie putts on the second playoff hole Sunday evening as darkness quickly gathered. Hoch said he couldn't read the line and asked for the playoff to be suspended.
It turned out to be a good move.
Hoch's caddie, Damon Green, thought the putt would break slightly to the right.
'From what I saw (Sunday night), it was going to break left,' Hoch said.
When he returned Monday morning, Hoch studied the putt from three directions and played it just inside the left edge. The ball curled in the right edge for a birdie, and Furyk matched him with a 6-footer that was good all the way.
'I wouldn't have read that right,' Hoch said to his caddie as they walked off the green.
About 300 fans trampled through the dew-covered rough as they followed along, but Hoch made sure it wasn't a long day.
He hit his best drive of the tournament on No. 18, the most difficult hole on the Blue Monster, then hit a 9-iron from 148 yards that landed about 2 feet behind the hole and rolled 10 feet away.
Furyk hit into the bunker for the second time on No. 18 in the playoff. He hit a good shot to the green, but missed his 25-foot birdie attempt.
'Scott played great,' Furyk said. 'There's not much I could do.'
Hoch won for the 11th time in a career that is only now getting its due. He earned $900,000 and went past $1 million in earnings for the eighth straight year.
And just think, Hoch was on the verge of pulling out of the tournament five days ago because of a sore left wrist.
'I feel great now,' he said.
Hoch has dealt with a number of nagging injuries during his career, and he has had eye surgery five times. That's one reason he wanted to wait Sunday evening, instead of trying to hit an important putt that he couldn't see.
'I got my eyes fixed, but he didn't give me night vision,' he said.
The tournament took on even greater importance because Hoch, 47, doesn't know how many more chances he will have to win.
'You always wonder if that's going to be your last,' he said. 'Am I good enough to win?'
He was at Doral, a tournament where Raymond Floyd once won at 49.
Hoch and Furyk finished at 17-under 271, two shots ahead of Bob Tway.
Both made par on the first extra hole (No. 18), and both hit wedges for their third shots into the green on the 529-yard first hole -- Hoch from 9 feet, Furyk from 6 feet.
The last time Hoch tried to finish in the dark, he had a three-putt bogey that cost him precious strokes in the 2001 U.S. Open. With a PGA Tour title on the line at Doral, he wasn't about to make the same mistake.
The decision wasn't popular with the thousands of fans who wanted to see a winner.
Hoch has good hearing, though, and he listened to the catcalls and chants as he and Furyk marked their balls, jumped into a cart and drove toward the clubhouse.
Furyk said he felt for the fans and tournament officials who wanted to see a winner at the end of the week. Still, he no problem with Hoch's decision.
'Everyone made too big a deal out of it,' Furyk said. 'It got dark last night. It's golf. We get rain delays, darkness delays all the time.'
It was the first playoff at Doral in 12 years, and that won also was decided on Monday because of electrical storms that kept about two dozen players from finishing.
Hoch said his 16-year-old daughter, Katie, asked to stay home from school so she could watch the playoff on TV.
'She's already back in school,' Hoch said. 'She'll be happy now.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the Ford Championship
  • Scott Hoch's Bio
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • 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