LPGA Tour plays for free in US opener

By Associated PressMarch 18, 2011, 2:36 am

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup

 PHOENIX – The LPGA Tour found a way to return to the Valley of the Sun and add another U.S. event. The catch, the players aren’t getting paid.

“This is a completely unique event,” Commissioner Michael Whan said.

The LPGA Founders Cup, set to open Friday at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s Wildfire Golf Club, will donate $1 million to charity – half to The LPGA Foundation and its LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program and half to the top-10 finishers’ designated charities. The $1 million will count on the season money list.

“I think it’s a very positive vibe from all the people that are following around,” 14-time tour winner Cristie Kerr said Thursday. “We’ve had a lot of `Thank yous.”’

The fifth-ranked Kerr is playing for her own Birdies For Breast Cancer foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. On Saturday night at Desert Ridge, she’ll receive the Muhammad Ali Athlete of the Year award.

“It’s quite an honor,” Kerr said. “I get to sit with Halle Berry and The Champ.”

The RR Donnelley-sponsored tournament is the tour’s first since Karrie Webb won in Singapore on Feb. 27. After stops the next two weeks in Southern California for the Kia Classic and Kraft Nabisco, the tour will be off three straight weeks and five of six.

“It’s a little bit more challenging because I’m the kind of player that likes to play a lot,” Kerr said. “I like to play in competition to feel sharp. It’s hard for me to practice without having something to practice for.”

Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner of the season-opening LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, also is in the field along with Webb, Jiyai Shin, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and teen star Jessica Korda.

Tseng, from Taiwan, is playing for UNICEF’s Tap Project and Japan relief effort.

“It’s not about money”, Tseng said. “It’s my honor to play this tournament.”

RR Donnelley also will give UNICEF’s Japan relief program $100 for every birdie and $500 for each eagle on the final four holes.

The tournament honors the 13 players who founded the tour in 1950. As part of the event, Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan will play an exhibition round Friday morning on the tournament course.

“We’re pretty lucky to be where we’re at,” Webb said. “At times, it’s tough. but we need to dig our heels in like they did 60 years ago.”

She is friends with founder Louise Suggs.

“I actually have a couple of great saved voicemail messages,” Webb said. “I nearly erased them the other day and I almost started crying.”

Originally, the tour planned to donate $700,000, with $200,000 going to organizations designated by the top-five finishers. The players then persuaded the tour to bump that to $500,000 for the top-10 finishers’ charities. The winner’s charity will get $200,000 and second place is worth $100,000.

“I’ve always thought the concept of this tournament was great,” said Webb, playing for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “Obviously, now if I play well this week, I’m also able to give back to a charity that I’ve been involved with for a long time.”

Webb won the tour’s last Phoenix event in 2009 at Papago. The 10th-ranked Australian star also won in 1999 at Moon Valley.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing Phoenix,” Webb said. “It’s a beautiful time of the year to be out here. It’s generally not too cold and just a perfect temperature.”

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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