Lunde rallies to win Turning Stone

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2010, 1:49 am

Turning Stone 2007 Logo

VERONA, N.Y. – Less than five years after Bill Lunde quit competitive golf, he earned a spot in next week’s PGA Championship by winning the Turning Stone Resort Championship on Sunday.

Lunde shot 6-under 66 and rallied for the come-from-behind victory with a 17-under 271 total on the 7,482-yard Atunyote Golf Club layout. He earned $720,000, a PGA Tour exemption through the end of 2012 and 250 FedEx Cup points for his first PGA Tour win in 53 career starts.

“I started driving it really well, hitting it down the fairway,” Lunde said. “So that kind of changed the whole game. I went from scrambling to make pars to having 9 irons that I could hit close.

“All these guys out here, you’re never far from playing good. You can sit here and say, ‘I’m playing awful, I don’t know how I’m going to break 80 today,’ but you’re never that far off.”

J.J. Henry finished runner-up at 16 under after he tied the course record with a 63. Jerry Kelly, Josh Teater, Michael Sim, Billy Mayfair and Alex Cejka tied for third place at 15 under. Cejka was the leader after the second and third rounds, but closed with an even-par 72.

Lunde made the weekend cut by one stroke at 3 under and vaulted into contention with a 64 on Saturday. He still trailed Cejka by four shots heading into the final round. Lunde climbed to the top of Sunday’s leaderboard with six birdies and a 30 on the front side. He first reached 17 under with a birdie at No. 9.

Lunde lost a stroke on the par-3 11th where he couldn’t get up-and-down from a greenside bunker. He remained stuck at 16 under until the par-3 16th. Lunde’s 6-iron from 177 yards stopped 4 feet from the pin and he made the short birdie putt to take the lead for good. He parred the last two holes to clinch the win.

None of the success seemed possible to Lunde in 2005 when he stopped playing after a tough year on the Nationwide Tour. He went to the PGA’s Q-School in November and didn’t qualify for the second stage. He found a job in real estate in Las Vegas, but was let go and eventually found his way on to the Butch Harmon Tour.

Lunde made it back to the Nationwide Tour in 2008 and took advantage of his second chance. He won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational that year and finished fifth on the money list, which earned him a spot on the PGA Tour in 2009.

“I tried to make an agreement with myself when I started playing again to … if I could just have a better attitude right off the bat, I’d become a better player than I ever was before,” he said. “And that was kind of my goal. Obviously it doesn’t happen every day, but it’s definitely better than it was and something I’ll probably battle for the rest of my life. I’m just so competitive. I can’t handle not playing well or bad breaks. It gets me down.”

Henry’s season-best round included seven birdies with no bogeys, an eagle on the par-5 12th hole and just 25 putts. Nineteen of his last 20 rounds on the PGA Tour have been at or below par. He has been runner-up five times on the PGA Tour and his lone victory was in 2006 at the Buick Championship.

“I knew I was going to hit the ball well,” Henry said. “I just wanted to try to make some putts, and I hit a lot of good shots, made a lot of tap-ins. I’m not here to say I should’ve shot lower, but I missed it from six or eight feet on 18, so that might have been something that you never know.”

Cejka was searching for his first PGA Tour win in his 228th career start. He started Sunday at 15 under and parred the first five holes. He ran into trouble on the par-3 sixth as his tee shot landed next to a tree right of the green and he made bogey.

Things got worse on the next hole as Cejka’s drive ended up in some tall weeds right of the fairway. He punched out a few yards into the rough, missed the green with his third shot and made double bogey to drop to 12 under.

Cejka came right back and birdied the par-5 eighth hole and still had the back nine ahead of him. He played the last nine holes a combined 12-under par the first three rounds. It seemed like he would find magic again as he birdied Nos. 10 through 12 to get to 16 under.

After a par at the tough par-4 13th, disaster struck for Cejka. His tee shot on No. 14 found the creek that runs along the left side of the fairway, and he made bogey. He parred the last four holes to finish at 15 under – right where he started the day.

“I just said, ‘one more birdie,’ and then I just hit it in the water,” Cejka said. “A bogey under those circumstances really cost me. But if I don’t make bogey there, I had great chances on 15 and 16. Maybe it would be different on 18 if I was 16 under or 17 under at the start, but that’s the way it is.”.

DIVOTS: Lunde’s previous best finish was a tie for fourth at last year’s Open. He was a member of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas golf team that won a NCAA Division I title in 1998. … Lunde is the 12th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. … Lunde’s 73 in the first round is the highest start by a winner on the PGA Tour this season. … Jonathan Byrd, who tied for 10th place, also tied the course record with a 63 earlier Sunday. Charles Warren and Chris Couch did it Saturday, and Peter Lonard was the first to hit the mark in the final round at last year’s tournament. … Nicholas Thompson (T33) shot the first 29 on the back nine at Atunyote Golf Club in tournament history.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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