James Nitties Ken Duke top leaderboard at Byron Nelson

By Associated PressMay 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
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IRVING, Texas ' Fun-loving PGA Tour rookie James Nitties can get serious, too.
 
While not shy about his tour bio that lists his special interests as clubbing, girls and movies, the 26-year-old Australian is trying to stay focused on a stretch of tournaments that could culminate with a spot in the U.S. Open.
 
Its not easy, but I just made an executive decision where I have to play well over the next five weeks, Nitties said. Its not just fun and games out here.
 
Nitties finished with four consecutive birdies for a 5-under 65 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the HP Byron Nelson Championship with Ken Duke, another surprise at the top of the leaderboard.
 
Duke snapped a streak of 11 consecutive rounds in the 70s to share the first-round lead for only the second time in his 118 career starts. His putt at No. 18 stopped 3 inches from the hole, or he could have had another birdie and the lead alone.
 
You think you should do better than youre doing, and then you press the issues and dont just let it come to you, the 40-year-old Duke said. I guess thats kind of what Ive done.
 
Until the Nelson, when he had five birdies over eight holes after being even through the first eight.
 
Mike Weir, Scott McCarron, Charles Howell III and Brad Adamonis shot 66s, and Jesper Parnevik and Tommy Armour III were among a group of a dozen players with 67s.
 
Defending champion Adam Scott started with consecutive bogeys and went on to a 71.
 
Nitties, who appeared on the Golf Channels Big Break series and finished second at the PGA Tour qualifying tournament last fall, was 1 under through 14 holes. After seeing the scores, he figured hed be in decent shape with one more birdie.
 
The scores, they werent that good, so it didnt put any pressure on me to do anything crazy, Nitties said. I was thinking 2 under, Ill be happy with. Its just a solid day.
 
Nitties then knocked his approach within 5 feet at the 504-yard 15th, and 6 feet at the par-5 16th. After a 13-foot birdie at the 198-yard 17th ' his longest made putt of the day ' he closed with another 5-footer.
 
It was not the best ball-striking round, but it was a smart round, Nitties said.
 
Nitties made the cut in seven of his first 14 tournaments. His best finish was a tie for fourth in the FBR Open at TPC Scottsdale, renowned as the biggest party stop on the PGA Tour. The Nelson also is known for its lively atmosphere.
 
There are a lot of good sights out here, but my best result was at one of the biggest party events of the PGA Tour and no one thought I would do half decent in that, Nitties said. I know when to put distractions and golf into two parts.
 
As for those special interests listed on his bio, Nitties describes it as pretty brutally honest and normal for a single 26-year-old.
 
I love going to the movies. I love hanging out with mates and having a couple of drinks in bars and chasing girls, he said. Its typical of a guy. Im just the only one that actually says it and doesnt say I like hanging out and fishing, when I really do normal stuff.
 
DIVOTS PGA Tour rookie Matt Bettencourts clubs were stolen when someone smashed the window of his car outside a hotel Wednesday. His wedding ring and watch were in the stolen golf bag. With a set of clubs built at the course, the 2008 Nationwide Tour money champion shot an opening 71. Kevin Streelman, part of the group at 67, was already 4 under through eight holes despite a bogey. But he had three more bogeys after that. Vijay Singh, the worlds No. 9 player and highest-ranked after Phil Mickelsons withdrawal, shot 70.
 

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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


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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

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    Man of the people


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    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


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    Squashed beef with Paddy

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    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