Match Play one of many moving parts for tour

By Associated PressMarch 1, 2011, 8:57 pm

MARANA, Ariz. (AP)—The World Golf Championships, which used to actuallymove around the world, have been in the same U.S. cities for the last fiveyears. That could change with a new television contract.

For now, most of the attention is on the Match Play Championship.

It moved to the high desert north of Tucson in 2007, and the four-yearcontract with Dove Mountain ended in the sleet and snow at the Ritz-Carlton GolfClub. There is an option for another year, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchemsaid speculation that the Accenture Match Play Championship is moving for 2012would be “inaccurate.”

“I’d say right now that the most likely scenario is going to be it stayshere,” Finchem said.

So much depends on the rest of the schedule.

The tour is about to enter negotiations on a new television contract, whichexpires in 2012. Tour executives have been hammering out various models inrecent months and are close to presenting a proposed schedule of events.

“We’re not uncomfortable here,” Finchem said. “It’s worked well and wehave a good partnership with the people here. The facilities are great. It’sjust that as we get into television later this year, it forces us to look at theoverall calendar and make sure the calendar works. As you know, there’s a lot ofmoving parts to that.”

Chief among them is whether the NFL schedule expands and pushes the SuperBowl deep in February. Another part of the equation is the Fall Series and thetour’s interest in adding tournaments in Asia. It already has one in Malaysia,along with the WGC in Shanghai.

“Then you have the traditional part of it, which is tournaments wanting tomove in certain situations,” he said. “Right now, this tournament is at theend of the West Coast, and that appears to be a strong possibility that wouldcontinue.”

Finchem said the tour would decide on the Match Play venue within threemonths to give local organizers time to prepare. Then again, that’s also truefor all the PGA Tour events on the West Coast swing, and even some in Florida.

It’s all about the calendar.

“Like here, if we wanted to play this a lot earlier, it gets to be astruggle weather-wise,” he said. “All the WGCs, China included, you’ve got tobe careful in terms of player movement and making sure it fits with thedifferent tours. We’ve already created problems with ourselves globally with theexpanded season. It’s complicated.”

Part of the headache this year is the South African Open being held the sameweek as the Presidents Cup, especially with the top five players in theInternational team standings from South Africa.

As for the Match Play Championship?

“I’d say we’re going to review it, and the likely conclusion is we stayhere,” he said. “But it’s not about here. It’s about the calendar.”

WESTWOOD ON TIGER: Lee Westwood knows about slumps, having slipped to No.253 in 2003. He recalled a favorite adage Tuesday when talking about TigerWoods , one that his friend Darren Clarke once said about Westwood.

“Having played with Tiger since 1997 … there’s an old saying that classis permanent and form is fickle,” Westwood said. “He’s the classiest playerI’ve ever played with. I’d be wise enough to know not to write him off.”

There has been chatter that Woods should try to play more tournaments tohelp get his game on track, especially after losing in the first round a weekago at the Match Play Championship.

Westwood had some perspective on that, too.

“When I went through a bad patch, it was a juggling act whether to stayhome and practice or go play and risk not playing well and taking anotherconfidence knock,” he said. “It’s very much up to the individual. Tiger has todo what he feels is right.”

RAPUNZEL REYNOLDS: This is one bet Chad Reynolds doesn’t mind losing, nomatter how he looks.

Reynolds, the caddie for Nick Watney , was due for a haircut about a monthago. At Torrey Pines, he made a wager with the boss before the final round. Hewould cut his hair when Watney failed to finish out of the top 10.

That seemed reasonable, since Watney was 11 shots out of the lead.

“I’m thinking about driving to Phoenix and getting my hair cut Mondaymorning, and he drops a 63 on me,” Reynolds said.

Watney had a tournament-best 63 to tie for sixth. Then came a tie for fifthat the Phoenix Open. A week later at Pebble Beach, he was eight shots behindgoing into Sunday and closed with a 67 to tie for sixth.

And the hair kept growing.

Watney needed to win two matches for a top 10 at the Match PlayChampionship. He beat Anthony Kim in the first round, then beat Lee Westwoodbefore losing in the third round.

Watney is off this week, then plays at Doral, where two years ago he lost byone shot to Phil Mickelson .

CINK COACH: Among the changes for Stewart Cink this year was leaving ButchHarmon.

Cink had gone to Pat O’Brien for his putting, and now uses the Dallas-basedO’Brien as his only coach. Cink said the main reason for leaving Harmon wasscheduling.

“If you look at all of Butch’s players, I was the one who was the most tiedup with stuff,” said Cink, who lives north of Atlanta. He said he wasn’twilling to give up his family time by taking trips to Las Vegas.

Harmon also works with Phil Mickelson (San Diego), Nick Watney and NatalieGulbis (Las Vegas), and Dustin Johnson , who lives in South Carolina but makesfrequent trips to Las Vegas.

Cink said he was energized being around O’Brien, describing his philosophyas “new school” compared with Harmon.

“But I love Butch,” Cink said. “We’re good friends.”

Harmon keeps a limited stable of clients these days and did not say if hewould add one now that Cink has departed.

DIVOTS: The Golf Channel averaged 771,000 viewers for its three days ofMatch Play Championship coverage, up 84 percent from the previous year. NBCSports said it had an average of 2.5 million viewers for its weekend coverage,up from 1.5 million a year ago when it was on CBS Sports while NBC was inVancouver for the Olympics. … Jordan Spieth has accepted a sponsor exemptionto play in the Byron Nelson Championship. A year ago, the Texas prep star tiedfor 16th, the best by an amateur in the tournament’s 43-year history. … Onlyone American has won the Honda Classic in the last six years—Mark Wilson in2007, who is not playing this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: PGA Tour members have won 34 of 38 World GolfChampionships.

FINAL WORD: “We never gambled growing up, only because I didn’t have anymoney to gamble with. And I would lose it, anyway.”—Bill Haas , on playingwith his father, Jay Haas .

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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