Jay Haas blows past Tom Watson to win Senior Players

By Associated PressOctober 5, 2009, 2:09 am
Champions Tour

TIMONIUM, Md. – Jay Haas took advantage of Tom Watson’s uncharacteristic bogeys and passive play to steal the final Champions Tour major of the year.

Haas charged past Watson to win the Senior Players Championship by a stroke, birdieing the 18th hole Sunday to match the course record with a 6-under 64.

“All day, I was right there,” Haas said. “I missed some very makable putts on the front nine, and I was very disappointed in that. But I felt like I was going to get some more, the way I was hitting it and the way I felt today. I had a nice calm about me and Tom didn’t go nuts behind me and shoot 3 or 4 or 5 under himself.”

The 60-year-old Watson was tying to become the oldest major winner on the 50-and-over tour. But after making only one bogey in the first three rounds at Baltimore Country Club, he had three in the final round en route to a 70.

“I didn’t play with the type of aggressiveness I needed to play today,” Watson said. “I played tentative golf. I made a couple of putts, but I hit some wayward shots and didn’t have a feel for the distance today.

Haas finished at 13-under 267 for his third senior major title. He has 14 career Champions Tour victories, also winning the Greater Hickory Classic two weeks ago.

“From tee to green, I could not play better,” he said. “Under the conditions and under the circumstances, a major tournament on a championship golf course, that was the best I got.”

Wearing a brace on his left arm to combat a lingering case of tendinitis, Haas marveled at the progress he’s made in the past month since a cortisone shot.

“I’m still a little apprehensive about my arm – is it going to come back, what does the future hold? A month ago, when I was in Seattle, I thought my year was done.”

Haas took advantage of a well-placed 6-iron from 195 yards on his second shot on the par-4 18th hole. His shot dropped on the right side of the green, then rolled within 3 feet of the cup for an easy birdie.

Watson missed the fairway on 18, ending any hopes he could catch Haas. Mark Wiebe (71) and Loren Roberts (71) tied for third at 7 under, and Bernhard Langer (68) and John Cook (72) followed at 6 under.

The two-time Masters winner and runner-up in this year’s British Open, Watson pulled ahead by a stroke with a masterful, downhill birdie putt on No. 15. With 35 feet to the hole, he used a five-iron to send a slow roller that briefly broke right before curling left and dropping in to put him at 12 under.

He groaned as the ball went right, successfully pleading for a better fate.

“It decide to go in; I don’t know what happened,” Watson said. “When I made that putt, I figured if Jay didn’t birdie 16, which he didn’t, I’d be kind of in the catbird’s seat if I just played par golf in.”

But Haas birdied 17, converting a 12-foot putt for his 20th birdie of the tournament, to force a tie atop the leaderboard.

A gusty breeze and soft, wet conditions made difficult putting on the sloping greens at the Five Farms East course even more challenging. Watson wasn’t able to replicate the 64 he shot Saturday to move into the lead after three rounds.

Haas believed the conditions favored Watson.

“What I thought when I got out here today was what a nice day this was for Tom Watson,” Haas said. “Cool and breezy, a tough golf course and coming off a 64 himself.”

Instead, Watson allowed Haas to stay close through the front nine and Haas’ occasional putting problems – he missed four putts from short distance in the final round – weren’t a dealbreaker.

“Your lead’s not safe unless you do something and I didn’t do that something,” Watson said.

Watson began the day at 12 under with a four-stroke lead over Roberts, Cook and Wiebe. The leader bogeyed the first hole, and Haas climbed within two strokes with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4, before Watson birdied the fifth hole to lead by three strokes.

“With a four-shot lead, the best thing to do is just make it five and six and seven,” Watson said. “But I got off to a bogey start and kind of struggled that hole. … It got me kind of off on the wrong foot.”

But Watson closed the front nine by bogeying Nos. 7 and 9 and Haas’ birdie on the 10th hole pulled him within a stroke at 10 under.

Haas missed opportunities to pull into a share of the lead, pushing a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 12 past the cup and failing to covert a long putt on No. 13. But he knocked in a 5-footer for a birdie on No. 14 to pull even with Watson.

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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