Horne leads, McDowell three back in Wales

By Associated PressJune 2, 2011, 2:05 pm

NEWPORT, Wales - South African journeyman Keith Horne leads the Wales Open after shooting a 7-under 64 in the opening round Thursday, with defending champion Graeme McDowell trailing by three strokes at Celtic Manor.

Horne made birdies on five of the last eight holes on his Wales Open debut, his 100th tournament on the European Tour since 2000. He shot 30 on the back nine of the links course.

Horne turned pro at 25 and turns 40 next week. He secured his European Tour card last year and is still seeking his first tour win.

“The golf course was playing as easy as it’s going to play,” said the 289th-ranked Horne. “The front nine was pretty tough because it was a bit cold and the ball wasn’t going that far. The pins were pretty difficult on the front nine, too.

“Once I started to warm up myself and make a few birdies, I actually really enjoyed the back nine.”

Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson was second after making four straight birdies from No. 14 in shooting a 65. The Swede was followed by English pair Steve Webster and Paul Broadhurst plus Alvaro Velasco of Spain, who all shot 66.

McDowell, Hanson’s playing partner, was next in a group of six. He eagled the par-4 15th with a 30-foot putt. But he failed with a birdie attempt at the next, the same hole where his 20-footer clinched victory over Hunter Mahan in The Ryder Cup last October.

“I guess I’ve used all my magic up on that green,” McDowell said. “Overall, I’m very happy with the way I played. The course is running pretty fast and firm, so it’s playing reasonably short. The greens are not as good as I’ve seen them here at Celtic Manor. The greens are very receptive and very soft and there’s quite a lot of growth on them, so they are tough to putt on.

“Generally, very happy with 4 under par, very happy with the way I struck the ball and there were a lot of good things, a lot of positives out there.”

John Daly made four bogeys on the front nine and two on the back in a 77.

Elliot Saltman of Scotland, who completed a three-month ban from the European Tour last month for marking his ball incorrectly, had a hole-in-one at No. 17. He followed it up with an eagle in a round of 73, the same score as his brother Lloyd.

McDowell won the U.S. Open champion after a victory at the Wales Open last year. Despite missing the cut at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week, the Northern Irishman is mostly pleased with his game.

“I feel like I’ve got a better understanding for my golf swing and what I’m trying to do with it,” McDowell said. “I can see my way around the golf course now. I was really happy with that ball flight, to see that coming back into my game was nice, and I drove the ball really solidly today as well.”

Hanson, McDowell, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ross Fisher are the only Ryder Cup players in the field, although captain Colin Montgomerie and vice captains Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn are also playing.

Fisher failed to come through qualifying for the U.S. Open on Monday. He needs to play well at Celtic Manor if he is to regain a place in the top 50 and win a place at the tournament on Washington’s Congressional course from June 16-19.

The Englishman rallied from bogeys at No. 12 and No. 13 with birdies in three of the last four holes in a 70, including at the last where his long eagle putt stopped just before the cup.

Jimenez shot a 73, while Montgomerie signed for a 77 only four days after his first top-10 finish in almost three years, when he finished joint seventh at the BMW PGA Championship.

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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

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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