Lefty Scott Highlight Houston Open

By Associated PressApril 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHOUSTON -- Phil Mickelson might make the Houston Open an annual stop as long as its the event leading up to the Masters.
 
He likes playing the week before a major and hes sold on the Tournament Course at Redstone, where organizers have tried to simulate the conditions players will find at Augusta National.
 
It is tremendous, Mickelson said after the pro-am Wednesday. The greens are fast. The fairways are perfect and tight. They even mowed the grain into you in the fairways, just like Augusta does. There is no rough. The first cut is like Augusta.
 
Its a great place to get ready for next week.
 
When the PGA TOUR reshuffled its schedule before the 2007 season, the Houston event was moved to the week before the Masters out of its moribund regular spot in late April, when many of the big names take time off.
 
The course, designed by Rees Jones, hosted the tournament for the first time in 2006, then drew raves in its debut as a Masters tuneup last year. Word of mouth spread and this years field is among the strongest in the tournaments 62-year history.
 
Six of the worlds top 12 ranked players are playing, including Mickelson, Steve Stricker and defending champion Adam Scott. Ernie Els (No. 3) also was going to come, but withdrew due to an illness.
 
The word got around after last years event of the quality of the golf course and the condition and the way they set it up, said Scott, who sank a 48-foot putt on the final hole to win last year. That certainly couldve changed some guys minds on playing here this week before Augusta.
 
Stuart Appleby finished 14 under in 2007 and finished tied for second. A week later, he led the Masters after 54 holes, shot a 75 in the final round and tied for seventh.
 
Appleby traced his Masters performance more to how he was playing at the time than the course providing the perfect preparation. After all, theres only one Augusta.
 
Theyre two very different golf courses, said Appleby, the 2006 Houston winner. They try to make it like Augusta. Its an attempt, thats all it is. Thank God, they make the attempt.
 
Like Appleby, Stricker questions how much the Redstone course will get anyone ready for the Masters. Stricker is here more for the competition and thinks most of the players feel the same way.
 
Just playing in general prepares you, Stricker said. You get to be under the gun for the four days leading up to the event and you get to work on your short game and your putting. They try to make it like Augusta but its guys that are here that just want to play and keep their games as sharp as they can leading up to Augusta.
 
The Tournament Course and the Houston Open will still always have special meaning for Stricker. He came here two years ago on a sponsor exemption, ranked 331st in the world, and searching for any hint that his playing career still had life.
 
He opened with an even-par 72, dropped two shots off his score each day and finished third, his best result since 2001. Two months later, he tied for sixth at the U.S. Open and earned five more top-10s before the end of the year.
 
In 2007, he finished in the top five six times, including a win at the Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup. He was the runner-up to Tiger Woods in the final playoff standings, nabbed a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team and earned more than $4 million, nearly four times more than he made in any previous year.
 
It all got started here and it kick-started my good play, said Stricker, who has four top-10s in eight starts in 2008. I gained a lot of confidence from this event a couple of years ago and have kind of rolled with it since. This place means a lot.
 
Davis Love III is looking for the same kind of spark. He needs a victory to qualify for the Masters and stretch the longest active streak of major championship appearances to 71.
 
Love tore ligaments in his left ankle when he stepped in a hole playing golf last September and hes struggled since returning to the tour this year. He hasnt played in Houston since 1992.
 
When I first started back, they (doctors) said, Dont even worry about the Masters. Youre not going to have enough time to be ready even to play in it, much less win a tournament before it. I feel like Ive got a leg up, Love said. Now, Ive played six times and I havent made any progress. At least Ive played, Ive gotten some rounds in and Im still playing, so Ive still got a shot.
 
The tournament is sponsored by Shell.
 

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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.


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    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.


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    Man of the people


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm