Imada builds a 2-shot lead at Torrey Pines

By Associated PressJanuary 31, 2010, 1:20 am

SAN DIEGO (AP)—Phil Mickelson hit a drive into a eucalyptus tree that nevercame down. D.A. Point had a chip from 30 yards short of the flag that tumbled 20yards over the green and into a hazard.

Ryuji Imada didn’t feel as though he played that much better Saturday in theFarmers Insurance Open. The difference was he turned trouble into pars, thenfinished with a bonus birdie that put gave him a two-shot lead at Torrey Pines.

“The score looks pretty solid,” Imada said after his 2-under 70. “But itwas a struggle out there.”

Phil Mickelson looks on after …
AP - Jan 30, 7:31 pm EST

Imada avoided the problems that stalled so many other players on the SouthCourse and wound up at 13-under 203. When his 35-foot birdie putt dropped on the18th, he had a two-shot lead over Ben Crane and 25-year-old Michael Sim ofAustralia.

Imada will be going for his second PGA Tour victory, along with aninvitation to the Masters.

And he surely likes his chances better than two years ago, when he finishedrunner-up at Torrey Pines. He started that final round 12 shots behind andfinished eight shots behind Tiger Woods .

“It he was here, I’m sure he’d be 10 ahead of me,” Imada said. “No, itwould be a different feel. But it’s still a good 18 holes of golf left, andhopefully, I can keep on playing the way I’ve been playing this week.”

Even without Woods around, Imada had reason to realize what kind of work wasahead of him.

Crane, who had a 69, is as scrappy as they come. He has made only threebogeys over 54 holes, and moved into contention with four birdies on his finaleight holes Saturday.

“You cannot predict what’s going to happen in this game, especially on thiscourse,” Crane said.

Sim is a rising star whose career has been slowed by back injuries, yet heshowed his potential last year by winning three times on the Nationwide Tour toearn an instant promotion to the big leagues. Trouble was, there was no room forhim in many tournaments.

“I’m happy to be out here now,” Sim said. “I’ve got an opportunity thisweek to win a golf tournament. I’d like to take full opportunity of thattomorrow.”

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover had a 68, which included a double bogey onone of the easiest par 4s on the back nine. He was alone in fourth, three shotsbehind.

“Bad break, and maybe a bad decision, all on the same hole,” he said.“But all in all, pretty pleased. I got myself a little bit closer, and that wasthe goal today.”

Mickelson shot 70 and was in the group four shots back at 9-under 207.

Mickelson would not have predicted seeing a ball get stuck in a tree—twodays in a row. On Friday, it happened in his group to Ryan Palmer . This time, itwas Lefty who stared up into the eucalyptus tree, even sending a young fan upthe tree to help.

“My short game kept me in it,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t hit the ball theway I’ve been hitting it coming in. I don’t feel like it’s far off. But at leastI’m in a position now where a good round tomorrow can get it done.”

Mickelson and so many others were in range.

Brandt Snedeker , who played in the final group at Torrey Pines in 2007,birdied the last hole for a 68 and was in the group at 207 along with Mickelson,K.J. Choi (69), highly regarded rookie Rickie Fowler (70), Matt Every (72) andPoints.

Ernie Els had a 69 to lead the group at 8-under 208 that also featuredRobert Allenby , who has two victories and a runner-up finish in his last threetournaments.

“You can’t really fake it around here,” Els said.

That much was clear on a sun-filled day along the Pacific bluffs. Points wasone shot out of the lead and in front of the 14th green trying it pitch to aback pin. It came out a little strong, tumbled down the hill and into a hazard.

Even more adventurous was Mickelson.

He drove left over the cliff on the fourth hole and down the hill in theplants, just above Black’s Beach. Mickelson found his ball, managed to get itback onto the golf course and then thrilled his large crowd with a par.

He wasn’t as fortunate with his next mistake.

Mickelson hit another tee shot to the left on the par-4 seventh, and thefans could hear it clatter into a eucalyptus tree. They just couldn’t hear itland. By the time Mickelson arrived at the base of a tree, rules official SteveRintoul already had his binoculars out. He had spotted one ball lodged in thebranches, but couldn’t identify it as a Callaway with Mickelson’s markings.

One man offered to climb into the tree. Mickelson, not as spry at age 39,gave his full blessing. The man climbed 10 feet into the tree and shook with allhis might as the crowd cheered him on. The ball never came down, but it movedenough for Mickelson to realize it wasn’t his. He headed back to the tee and hitanother drive behind the trees, and did well to escape with double bogey.

By the end of the day, he still had a chance.

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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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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