LPGA Looking for Big Finish to 2006

By Associated PressNovember 14, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Already with the LPGA player of the year award and six tournament victories, there's only one thing left for Lorena Ochoa to pursue this season.
 
A really, really big check.

The richest prize in women's golf -- $1 million -- awaits the winner of this week's season-ending ADT Championship, the finale of the inaugural LPGA Playoffs. A 32-woman field will be pared to eight by Sunday, when those survivors start anew and play 18 holes for the biggest payout in tour history.
 
Ochoa -- who turns 25 Wednesday -- is clearly relaxed these days, knowing that her primary goal for the year is already accomplished. Still, she's postponed the celebratory party until after the ADT is over, saying she wants nothing to distract from her pursuit of one more victory.
 
'I knew it would be a tough thing to do,' said Ochoa, who has won her last three starts to push her earnings to nearly $2.5 million for the season. 'I was just really happy that it happened last week.'
 
Ochoa is one of four players who still have a chance at the season money title, with Karrie Webb and two-time defending ADT champion Annika Sorenstam also assured of finishing the year atop that list by winning this week. Cristie Kerr could also take the money crown if she finishes first and Ochoa doesn't finish second.
 
While Ochoa says she likes the unique ADT format, she -- along with some other players -- doesn't like that the result here could easily skew the season's final money list. The entire $1 million first prize will count as official money, and Ochoa calls that 'a little unfair.'
 
'You can get a second place this week and your money title is gone,' said Ochoa, the first player since 1996 other than Sorenstam and Webb to win player of the year. 'That's the only thing I don't agree with. ... But if I need to win this week to win that title, too, I'm going to try hard to do it.'
 
Second place is worth $100,000, so it's conceivable that someone could stand over a putt on the 72nd hole with $900,000 at stake.
 
Under the tournament format, every golfer will play Thursday and Friday, when the first cut will trim the field to 16 players. A sudden-death playoff will follow Friday's second round in case of ties.
 
On Saturday, those 16 continue play, with that round followed by a second cut to get down to eight. From there, all the scores from the first three rounds are erased, and four twosomes will tee off Sunday morning.
 
The 2006 season was split into halves, with players earning points toward making the ADT Championship. Fifteen players from each half of the season and two wild cards got spots in the field.
 
'I'm not necessarily thrilled with how players qualified into the tournament,' Webb said. 'I don't think we have the best 32 players here, the best 32 players over the course of the year. But the format is something different and it's created a lot of interest.'
 
The odds suggest that whoever prevails at Trump International Golf Club will more than double her earnings for the season.
 
Only 10 women on tour have cracked the $1 million mark in 2006, a year where the average winner's check from the season's first 32 tournaments was $237,240.
 
'You could be a player that hasn't won all year and all of a sudden, you win a million and can be right up there,' Sorenstam said. 'So you know, it makes for a big change. It is obviously going to be very exciting for everyone. ... And I think everybody is going to ask the question, is that the way it should be?'
 
The winner's check is enormous, but the rest of the payouts are rather ordinary for tour golf. Third place is worth $20,500 and payouts dwindle a bit each rung from there, to $16,250 for eighth, $14,000 to those getting cut after Saturday and $8,000 for those gone after the first two rounds.
 
So, even though everyone will leave with at least a little something, this setup has a winner-take-all feel.
 
'It's going to be exciting,' Ochoa 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.


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    Man of the people


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    Victory at Valderrama


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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