No Home-Field Advantage in These Playoffs

By Associated PressAugust 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- The PGA TOUR Playoffs figured to be somewhat of a homefield advantage for someone like Vijay Singh, a three-time winner at Westchester and a past champion at TPC Boston and East Lake.
Then he shot 40 on his opening nine holes and missed the cut in the first event of the playoffs.
Steve Stricker had not played at Westchester since 1995, when he tied for 60th and promptly told his wife, 'Take a picture because we're not coming back.' He had little choice but to return under the FedExCup format, and Stricker warmed to the place rather quickly when he won The Barclays for his first victory in more than six years.
'I think for the most part, most players feel like if they're playing well, they can compete at any course,' Stricker said Wednesday.
The next stop in the playoffs is the TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which starts Friday to accommodate its annual Labor Day finish.
The defending champion is Tiger Woods, who will be making his playoff debut after sitting out the first round, which caused him to fall from No. 1 to No. 4 in the standings.
Three of the top 10 players -- Adam Scott is the other -- have won at the TPC Boston. That doesn't mean much if the first week was any indication. Plus, the course has gone through another round of changes, this time by architect Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon.
Among the most significant changes:
  • No. 4 now plays at 298 yards, which will tempt players to drive the green.
  • The par-5 seventh now has a massive cross bunker some 135 yards short of the green, with the face built up so steeply that players won't be able to see the green.
  • On the par-3 16th, the green has been moved forward and to the right, closer to the pond players must carry.
  • A new green on the 412-yard 17th, along with a 70-yard bunker in front of the green.
  • Two pot bunkers in the middle of the 18th fairway, and another one in the lay-up area on the 528-yard closing hole.
    Hanse and Faxon also reshaped the bunkers to give them a New England feel, rugged and unkempt.
    The routing is the same, but it's not quite the same course where Woods closed with a 63 last year to turn a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Singh.
    Woods won't see these changes until his pro-am round. Playing for the first time since winning the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, he spent about two hours on the practice range and putting green before going to a Presidents Cup meeting with Jack Nicklaus.
    David Toms was among the first and most vocal about the courses used for the PGA TOUR playoffs. He grew up in the South, and won his only major in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. That doesn't mean he is incapable of winning anywhere, but he questioned the equity of going to the same courses.
    'If you're going to make guys play, are their guys from the West Coast who would normally go to Chicago or New York? Maybe, maybe not,' Toms said Wednesday. 'You might have variety throughout the year, but you're talking about four straight weeks. For anyone, you do the best you can.'
    And Toms realizes his chances aren't necessarily hurt by going to the same four courses. He recalls hating Kingsmill the first time he played the old Michelob Championship, and it wasn't long before he won there in consecutive years.
    'It's OK, as long as the golf courses are suitable for everybody,' he said. 'I guess if you look at past experience, there might be guys that definitely have an advantage. But that's usually some of the best players, anyway.'
    So what to make of the TPC Boston?
    Toms has not been back since 2004, when he closed with a 64 to tie for 13th. He liked the rugged look of the redesign, figured that it still caters to the longer hitters, but then came to another savvy conclusion big hitters usually have an advantage everywhere.
    Scott won the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003. He had yet to see the changes, but just being on the property some 35 miles south of Boston brings back fond memories. It was his first PGA TOUR victory.
    'It's always an advantage if you've won at a course,' Scott said.
    That would suggest the playoffs bode well for Scott, who tied for 14th at The Barclays and moved up one spot to No. 9 in the standings. He also won the TOUR Championship last year at East Lake.
    'If you enjoy being at a golf course for four straight week, I think it's an advantage,' he said. 'If you don't, it won't be much fun.'
    Like everyone else, Scott believes good play can change someone's mind quickly.
    There was talk that Southern Hills wasn't a good fit for Woods, who tied for 12th at the U.S. Open in 2001 and was at the bottom of the pack in the '96 TOUR Championship. Woods kept saying in the weeks leading up to the PGA Championship that he wasn't hitting the ball very well those two years.
    He tied a major championship record with a 63 in the second round of the PGA, and went on to a two-shot victory.
    Stricker has never missed the Deutsche Bank Championship, but he missed the cut his first three years until tying for seventh a year ago. He liked the TPC Boston, and must like it even more coming off his victory at The Barclays.
    'I don't want to stop,' Stricker said. 'I just want to keep this momentum going.'
    Related Links:
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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