Horschel closing in on first Tour win

By Associated PressApril 6, 2013, 11:20 pm

SAN ANTONIO – Billy Horschel was confident about his chances of staying on top at the Texas Open after taking the second-round lead.

The relatively unknown up-and-comer lived up to his words on Saturday, holding off an experienced leaderboard to shoot a 2-under 70 and take a two-shot lead entering the final round.

Horschel finished second at last week's Houston Open, and he extended his PGA Tour-best streak of consecutive cuts made to 21 this week.

Still, the Florida native faces the daunting task of fending off a trailing pack that includes former major winners Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington if he's to earn his first PGA Tour win on Sunday.

Just don't try to tell him that.

''I've never been star-struck out here,'' Horschel said. ''... I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that's put their time (in) out here.


Valero Texas Open: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Texas Open highlights


''But at the same time, I'm as confident as I've ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now.''

Horschel enters the final day with a two-shot lead over Furyk and Charley Hoffman. He's four shots ahead of a trio that includes former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who would like nothing better than to close out with a win Sunday on his way to next week's Masters.

McIlroy shot a 1-under 71 to reach 6 under overall. He tied for the low round on Friday with a 67, but he was inconsistent off the tee on Saturday and had four birdies and three bogeys.

The world No. 2 hit just 7 of 14 fairways for the second time in the tournament, continuing his trend of up-and-down play this year after an offseason equipment change.

He signed up for the tournament only late last week, in search of as many competitive rounds as possible before next week - which will mark the first major since his PGA Championship win last August.

Saturday's gusty Texas wind provided McIlroy with a far different challenge than he'll likely face next week at Augusta National.

''It was a tough scoring day,'' McIlroy said. ''It was hard to really go low under par.

''... I probably should have been a couple better, but at the end of the day, it's still a solid round, and I still have a chance coming into tomorrow.''

Ryan Palmer had the low round on Saturday, posting a 4-under 68.

Furyk, playing the course for the first time this week – and after rain limited his practice round to four holes on Wednesday – birdied No. 18 to cap a 3-under effort for the day and to reach Sunday's final pairing.

The former U.S. Open champion was consistent from Tee to Green, hitting 15 greens in regulation - a remarkable feat as the San Antonio wind switched to the south for the first time during the tournament. However, he took 31 putts after needing only 26 on Friday.

''It was funny to wake up and have the wind the dead opposite,'' Furyk said. ''What I was hitting hybrid into Thursday and Friday, I'm hitting 9-iron today.

''I'm glad I got a couple rounds under my belt before that wind switched.''

Furyk, McIlroy and Harrington, all former major winners, are each within five shots of the lead.

McIlroy opened with two birdies over his first three holes on Saturday, climbing to 7 under and within a shot of Horschel, who had yet to tee off.

However, he fell back to 4 under with bogeys on Nos. 4, 10 and 11 before closing with birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 to stay in contention entering the final round.

Horschel, meanwhile, had a similar up-and-down day as the weather warmed up and the strong wind picked up. He made five birdies, reaching as low as 11 under after a confident 6-foot birdie putt on No. 14 – one of only 23 putts he needed in the round.

Hoffman, playing in the final pairing with Horschel, briefly took the lead after a birdie on No. 8.

The two-time winner on Tour went to 9 under after reaching the par 5 in two, and Horschel followed with a bogey for a two-shot swing that sent Friday's leader to 8 under.

It didn't take Horschel – in search of his first PGA Tour win – long to regain the lead for good, with another two-shot swing on the next hole.

''I didn't even know I fell out of the lead until someone just told me,'' Horschel said. ''... I couldn't care less whether I was leading after eight holes or whether I'm leading right now.

''I knew that I was playing well.''

The 26-year-old, who split his time between the PGA and Web.com tours last year, finished 147th on the PGA Tour money list last year. He earned his Tour card with a fourth-place finish at Q-School, and he last missed a cut at the Byron Nelson last May.

Horschel has had a third-place finish at the True South Classic last June since then, and he closed with a final-round 66 last week to finish second to D.A. Points at the Houston Open.

His consistent play continued through the first two rounds at the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course at TPC this week, posting 4-under 68s each day.

Saturday's round wasn't quite as efficient as the gusty wind on the 7,435-yard layout took its toll, but it was enough to put Horschel well within reach of his first PGA Tour win.

''I'm trying to stay loose,'' Horschel said. ''I think I've learned in the past that the looser I am, the more it helps.''

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