Mistakes dash US Open hopes of Big 3 - COPIED

By Associated PressJune 21, 2010, 8:21 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – They go on a first-name basis: Tiger, Phil and Ernie.

On Sunday, they all went home empty.

When the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was over, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els could all say they had their chances. None, however, could convert, which is how a little-known European named Graeme McDowell found himself holding the trophy.

That’s three players with 20 majors between them, and none could figure out a way to make it 21.

Els, playing some of the best golf of his life of late, got tantalizingly close to his first major championship since the 2002 British Open, but went bogey-double-bogey on Nos. 9 and 10 to throw away his chance. He finished third, two shots out of the lead.

Mickelson, the Masters winner searching for the second leg of the Grand Slam, made birdie with a putt from off the green on No. 1, but didn’t make another one the rest of the day. He tied for fourth with Woods, who, like Mickelson, shot a 66 earlier in the tournament to put himself in position to win.

“I thought when I made that putt on the first hole, it was going to be a great day,” said Mickelson, who found the greens getting bumpier and more unpredictable as he worked his way around on a cool, breezy day at Pebble.

As did Woods.

“Every putt I missed was from above the hole,” he said. “Yesterday I made everything because it was all below the hole. These greens are bumpy enough where putts above the holes, it’s just pot luck.”

While Woods found himself on the wrong side of the hole for most of the day, Mickelson and Els each watched their title hopes slip away on the so-called “Cliffs of Doom” – the stretch of holes 8, 9 and 10 that run along the Monterey Peninsula. They are as beautiful and treacherous as they come.

Els was at 3-under par, tied with McDowell for the lead, when he came up short on his approach on No. 9, then chipped up short, as well, and needed two putts to get down. Bogey.

Then, the real killer: a tee shot that went off the course, over the edge, almost certainly matted in the thick grass that leads down to the beach. It’s the Pacific Ocean – the biggest water hazard in the world – and Els had the common sense to ask a rules official if he would be penalized for touching the ground as he picked his way down the hill, trying to keep his balance.

No problem there. But he never found his ball. And when he came back onto terra firma to drop, he chunked it, hit that ball into the tall grass, as well, and was lucky to make a 6 from there.

A decent save for most – just not when you’re trying to win the U.S. Open.

Meanwhile, it was down below near that same water two days earlier that beachgoers wrote “Go Phil!” in the sand. A great scene, and fitting on Friday, when Mickelson was figuring out his putter, going low, shooting his 66.

It turned him into a favorite heading into the weekend. But Saturday, he was teetering precariously on the same hill after an awful approach on No. 9 – Lefty forced to turn his club around and hit righty. He made a double-bogey there that marked the official end of his hot streak.

Mickelson spent all day Sunday playing catch-up, a reality captured best when, trailing McDowell by three with three holes left, he went pin hunting on No. 16 and left the ball buried in the deep rough, en route to a bogey.

“I took a chance, it didn’t pay off,” he told his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.

No way to argue with that one.

Had any of these Big 3 won, it would have made for a great story.

Woods, of course, is returning from an embarrassing winter of discontent, his personal life turning him into the butt of jokes, his invincibility being questioned more than ever. He enjoyed nine holes of good golf – the back nine on Saturday – but couldn’t keep it going Sunday.

“It’s a process,” Woods said, after adding this tie for fourth to the same result at the Masters. “It’s a long process, but I’ve put some of it together, and I hit some shots this week that I haven’t hit in a long time.”

Els is on a resurgence of late, 10 years after all but waving the white flag when Woods beat him by 15 shots on this same course at the U.S. Open. It was embarrassing, he admitted, and Woods, he said, wasn’t playing the same game as everyone else. That’s not true anymore, though Els, who played the final 10 holes in 5-over par, didn’t stick around long enough after Sunday’s round to discuss it.

Then there was Mickelson. Few will soon forget the tear that trickled down his face after his win at the Masters earlier this year – a poignant celebration with his wife, Amy, who is overcoming breast cancer and was in Augusta to celebrate the moment. A win at Pebble Beach would have given Mickelson the second leg of the Grand Slam, vaulted him past Woods to No. 1 in the world rankings and given him his first U.S. Open after a record five second-place finishes.

Instead, he finished fourth and was trying to see the glass as half full.

“For me, yeah, I wanted to win,” he said. “But I’m glad that it wasn’t a second.”

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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

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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