Humana has evolved from Rat Pack into 'week of well-being'

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2014, 12:34 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – The perfect weather, mountain views and low scores remain. Little else at the Humana Challenge resembles the event's glory days.

The old Bob Hope Classic was Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, T-bone steaks and late-night cocktails. The Humana Challenge – actually, the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation – is corporate executives, carrot sticks and early morning power walks.

''Let's not forget that Bob Hope lived to be 100. He walked every day of his life,'' tournament executive director and CEO Bob Marra said Wednesday.

''We take the health and well-being mission of the tournament very seriously. We have a Fortune 500 company, Humana, that is dedicated to this. That's what they do. The Clinton Foundation, the same thing, a worldwide organization that helps people with a big focus on health and well-being. ... We want to make this clearly the healthiest sports event in the world. You have to walk the walk when you say that.''

The tournament has done away with the celebrity portion of the pro-am field, though actor Craig T. Nelson, singer Michael Bolton, Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely and Golf Channel's Holly Sonders are playing as ''special guests.''

''We feel like it's more important to have high-profile people – still celebrities in their own right – who are aligned with the tournament philosophy than to have a field of celebrities,'' Marra said. ''There aren't many absolute, no-question A-list celebrities who play golf and play to a level where they don't harm the tournament. A super-hot celebrity who is smacking the ball all over the place and causing a ruckus hurts.''


Humana Challenge: Articles, videos and photos


The pro-am players paid from $25,000 to $29,000 to play alongside the professionals for the first three days of the tournament, and six of them will advance to the final round. By eliminating the roughly 20 slots given to celebrities, the event cut expenses and generated more than $500,000.

''There was only so much you could do with celebrities,'' Marra said. ''It was a neat part of the past, but I like it better now.''

The regular field also is thin on star power, with Kapalua winner Zach Johnson the top-ranked player at No. 6. No. 14 Brandt Snedeker, No. 20 Webb Simpson and No. 22 Keegan Bradley are the only other top-30 players. Phil Mickelson, the headliner last year, is skipping the event to play in Abu Dhabi.

''This is one of my favorite events,'' Snedeker said. ''Obviously, the weather is perfect. The golf courses, I feel like, set up really well for me.''

Snedeker tied for 11th two weeks ago in the Tournament of Champions in his first start since injuring his left knee jumping off a Segway scooter in China in early November.

''Self-inflicted, stupidity injury,'' Snedeker said. ''Luckily, it was not very serious. It boiled down a deep bone bruise and a sprain in my ACL and is a hundred percent healed.''

Snedeker will begin play Thursday at La Quinta Country Club in a group with Rickie Fowler. Johnson is paired with Bradley. They also will open at La Quinta before shifting to PGA West for rounds at the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer private courses.

Last year, Brian Gay won his fourth Tour title, closing with a 9-under 63 and beating Charles Howell III on the second hole of a playoff. David Lingmerth was eliminated on the first extra hole.

The 43-year-old Gay is fighting neck pain.

''It started as a crick two days before I went to Maui and it's lingered and lingered,'' Gay said. ''It's been better some days, worse some others. I've had treatment. ... Felt the best of any day yesterday afternoon swinging the club and pain-free and I woke up this morning and it was kind of a new spot and worse.''

Bradley has a cold.

''I got a little sick yesterday,'' Bradley said. ''I'm feeling much better today.''

They came to the right event.

''We like it call it a week of well-being with a side of golf,'' Humana's Tom Noland said.

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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