McIlroy grabs share of first-round lead in Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 26, 2012, 4:35 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy opened his season by outplaying Tiger Woods in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, shooting a 5-under 67 Thursday for a share of the lead.

Woods shot a 70 in a threesome with McIlroy and top-ranked Luke Donald, who finished with a 71. Robert Karlsson tied for the lead while Gareth MaybinRichard Finch and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet were one stroke back.

Woods played bogey-free golf that produced few momentous shots and two birdies. He missed several birdie chances, including a 6-footer on his ninth, the 18th hole.

“It was a good ball-striking round,” Woods said. “I had a hard time reading the greens out there. The greens were pretty grainy and I just had a hard time getting a feel for it. Toward the end I hit some pretty good putts, but overall I got fooled a lot on my reads.”

McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion who has had three top-5 finishes in Abu Dhabi, made three birdies on his first four holes but erratic driving led to two bogeys on the next four. He steadied himself with three birdies on his back nine, including a chip-in on No. 8 from just off the green.


Hoggard: Poor putting costs Woods in Round 1


“It’s a nice way to start the competitive season, I suppose,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t feel like I played that good. I definitely didn’t strike the ball as good as I have been the last couple of weeks. I think it’s just because your first competitive round of the season, card in your hand, you can get a little bit tentative or a little apprehensive.”

Woods also struggled with his approaches shots at the National Course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which was playing much tougher than in the past with narrower fairways and thicker rough. That resulted in many 25- and 30-footers he couldn’t sink.

Sergio Garcia (71) and Jose Manuel Lara (70) each had hole-in-ones on the par-3 12thKJ ChoiColin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington joined the group at 71. Second-ranked Lee Westwood (72) and defending champion Martin Kaymer (77) got off to poor starts and never challenged.

McIlroy calls Woods a friend and was chatting with his playing partner for much of the day. He said he didn’t take much satisfaction from beating him in the first round.

“If it was the last day of the tournament and you’re both going in there with a chance to win, I would take a lot of pride from that, obviously,” said the 22-year-old Northern Irishman.

“But the first day of a tournament is a little different,” he said. “You’re just going out there and playing and seeing what you can do. But, hopefully, I can get myself into position where I do play with him on a Sunday and see how I get on.”

After a seven-week layoff, Woods said he’s fitter than he has been in years. He’s coming off a victory at the Chevron World Challenge last month that ended a two-year title drought.

With the win, Woods moved to 25th in the world after briefly falling outside the top 50 last year. Before the victory, Woods finished third at the Australian Open and delivered the clinching point for the American team in the Presidents Cup.

“It felt the same as it had from Oz to the World Challenge to here,” Woods said of his game. “I controlled my ball all day and just had a hard time getting a feel for these greens. They are grainy enough where I just didn’t quite read them right, and I hit them good, and then the grain would take it, not take it. It was just difficult.”

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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