McIlroy opens Australian Open defense with 69

By Associated PressNovember 27, 2014, 3:16 am

SYDNEY - Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott weren't paired together for the first two rounds of the Australian Open because organizers wanted to split their marquee players among morning and afternoon groups for the spectators and television.

After Thursday's opening round, they're also at opposite ends of the scoreboard.

McIlroy teed off in overcast conditions early Thursday and finished with a 2-under 69 just as Scott was beginning his round - and not very well at that.

Scott's tee shot on the first went into the woods and he made double-bogey as he shot 74 at The Australian Golf Club.

The Northern Irishman was two strokes behind first-round leader American Jordan Spieth (67). Scott was in 82nd place and will need a good round Friday to make the cut.

"I made the worst of my worst shots and didn't convert the good ones early," Scott said. "I have to play three really great days now and it seems that's what I'm doing week after week. But I'll claw my way back into it tomorrow morning."

Australians Aron Price and Scott Gardiner, who had a hole-in-one on Thursday, were tied for second with 68s, with McIlroy in a group of seven tied for fourth.

Spieth, playing in Scott's group, said he initially expected a rough day.

"When we came out this morning, it was misty and the wind was blowing hard," said Spieth. "I knew that it was going to play difficult but once the conditions started to clear for us; there was certainly a score out there."

Spieth said he was impressed with Scott's calm demeanor despite the Australian's difficulties Thursday.

"When you know he is having a bad day, a great champion like he is, to see how positive he remains on each shot," Spieth said.

Geoff Ogilvy, playing with McIlroy, shot 40 on the front nine, his second, including two double-bogeys, and had a 74.

McIlroy said the morning conditions were "pretty tricky."

"It was tough to get the ball close to the pins with the wind and these greens being quite firm as well," McIlroy said. "I thought anything under par today was a decent score and it was nice to birdie the last and shoot something in the 60s. It puts me right there for going into tomorrow."

McIlroy flew into Sydney on Monday night from Dubai, where he finished tied for second at the season-ending World Tour Championship and admitted he was still a bit jet-lagged.

"It was a 4:30 wake-up call this morning, so it was an early start, so I just want to rest this afternoon and make sure I'm fresh for tomorrow," he said.

Gardiner went from one extreme to the other over his first two holes.

He double-bogeyed the 10th to start his round, then immediately got the two strokes back with a hole-in-one on the par-3, 172-meter 11th.

Gardiner used the contour of the hole, landing his shot off the putting surface and watching it roll off the fringe and across the green into the hole, winning a new car in the process.

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