LPGA Skins Rebirth Could Be Short-Lived
Organizers say Conagra Foods has pulled out as a title sponsor, and while that doesn't affect the traditional Skins Game played over Thanksgiving weekend in California or the seniors event in Hawaii, it doesn't bode well for the women.
'We are meeting with several prospective sponsors to find an umbrella for the three Skins Games,' said Michael Stearns of IMG, which runs the tournaments.
Karrie Webb won the LPGA Skins Game in January at Wailea Golf Resort with a record 12 skins worth $270,000. It was the first Skins Game for the women since 1998, when Laura Davies won in Texas.
Davies returned as defending champion, along with Annika Sorenstam and Laura Diaz.
Sorenstam will become the first woman to play in the Skins Game in November, going up against Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson.
Webb might have to do without.
'We're disappointed Conagra is not coming back,' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said last week at the Solheim Cup.
Then again, it's not like the women were given a fair shake.
While the competition was Jan. 26 in Hawaii, the broadcast was not shown until July.
The senior men played Jan. 25 on the same course. Twelve holes were broadcast that Saturday, and the other six were shown Sunday.
'We weren't entirely happy with the way it ultimately played itself out with the tape delay,' Votaw said. 'Hopefully, it will come back. If it doesn't happen, I'm sorry that Karrie won't be able to defend.'
Although Webb might lose the chance to defend one title, another opportunity awaits.
The LPGA Tour is announcing this week the return in 2005 of the Women's World Cup to be staged in South Africa.
Webb and Rachel Teske of Australia won the Women's World Cup in 2000 when it was played in Malaysia, although that tournament lasted only one year before funding ran out.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR UPDATE: Vijay Singh picked up his third victory at the John Deere Classic, which throws him into the race of PGA Tour player of the year.
Not that he cares.
Singh is only interested in what he can control, which is winning the money title. He leads Davis Love III by nearly $200,000, with Tiger Woods in third place about $475,000 behind.
There are two $6 million tournaments left, so it's still up for grabs.
'My goal is to win the money list,' Singh said. 'Player of the year is not up to me. I can play the best golf, but somebody has to choose who the player of the year is. I can control the money list.
'I have another three events to go. If I can win one more time, I think I've got it sealed.'
Singh finally takes a break this week after a rugged stretch - seven straight tournaments, dating to the Buick Open, in which the only time he finished out of the top 10 was the PGA Championship.
He clearly is giving himself plenty of chances.
Singh has played in 23 tournaments, eight more than Woods and five more than Love.
The big Fijian is averaging $247,935 per event. Woods is averaging $348,583 per tournament.
PAYBACK: Annika Sorenstam has ignored criticism of her decision to compete against the men at Colonial.
That doesn't mean she forgets.
Angela Stanford wrote an opinion piece for Sports Illustrated before the Colonial, saying Sorenstam was being naive to suggest that her appearance was only a personal challenge.
'If she plays well, people will think she's too good for the rest of us,' Stanford wrote. 'If she misses the cut, then people will decide that the only reason she dominates our tour is because the rest of us stink.'
Sorenstam was pleasantly surprised when she drew Stanford in a Sunday singles match at the Solheim Cup. She quickly built a 2-up lead and closed her out, 3 and 2.
'I don't forget these types of things,' Sorenstam said. 'I had a conversation with her about that this summer. Funny how these pairings work out sometimes.'
SPECIAL ACE: Kevin Erickson of Green Bay, Wis., had a round to remember at the Special Olympics Golf tournament - a record round and his first ace.
Erickson, 20, used a pitching wedge for a hole-in-one on the 101-yard 6th hole on the South Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He wound up shooting 76 on the 4,942-yard course.
'I just hit and said we will see where this goes,' he said. 'It bounced, spun sideways and went in.'
Erickson's mother, who caddied for him, said he started cancer treatment three years ago, and golf was the only sport he was allowed to play.
'His health is good now,' Holly Dudley said. 'He has one more checkup to go and then he will hit the two-year mark. If he did not have golf, I do not think he would have recovered as well as he did.'
The tournament is for 158 golfers with mental retardation from 26 Special Olympics programs across the country.
DIVOTS: Pumpkin Ridge, scheduled to host the U.S. Senior Open in 2006, instead will have the U.S. Women's Amateur. The USGA is looking for a new location for the Senior Open, because another Champions Tour major - the Tradition - moved to the same Portland neighborhood this year. ... Vijay Singh's victory at the John Deere Classic made him the fifth player with at least three victories this year, the most on the PGA Tour since there were six three-time winners in 1982. ... The season-ending Volvo Masters on the European tour has changed its field to include the top 60 players on the money list. The purse has been increased to 3.5 million euros. ... Outback Steakhouse will be the title sponsor of the Champions Tour event in Tampa, Fla., for the next three years. ... Len Mattiace played 126 holes in one day on the TPC at Sawgrass last week, raising about $50,000 for The First Tee.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Five of the 28 matches at the Solheim Cup reached the 18th hole, the fewest since 1990 when only one match went the distance.
FINAL WORD: 'We watch the credits on movies and pick names from there. My favorite one is 'Grip,' but I don't know if Amanda is going to go for that.' - Justin Leonard on what to name his first child. His wife gave birth to baby girl this week.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18