Notes Cheeseheads Choose Scotland Over Home

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were among the first to arrive at the British Open, playing a practice round at Carnoustie over the weekend that included a spirited bet and took them back to their junior days in Wisconsin.
 
This is the place to be this week, even if a part of them would rather be somewhere else.
 
Under the reconfigured PGA TOUR schedule, the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee is now held the same week as the British Open. That's not a big deal for most players, except those who grew up and still live in the state.
 
'It's Jerry's major,' Stricker said with a laugh, noting that Kelly has twice been runner-up at Milwaukee.
 
Some thought Milwaukee would be relegated to the fall when the PGA TOUR shortened its regular season under the new FedExCup competition, so it could have been worse. Although the U.S. Bank Championship rarely attracted the biggest names, it stings to lose two of the state's most popular players.
 
'It's a tough deal,' said Stricker, noting he also skipped the John Deere Classic last week, another longtime favorite. 'I've got to be here, because it's a major. It's a little more important than U.S. Bank, but it hurts us both not to be there.'
 
Stricker knew in May he would be at Carnoustie, qualifying through the top 50 in the world ranking. Kelly chose to go through the U.S. qualifier at Oakland Hills, and he never gave it another thought.
 
'I could not take a chance at missing a major,' Kelly said. 'The U.S. Bank, if we won that, would be the closest tournament to our hearts. The emotion we get from all the people is incredible. Everybody from Wisconsin is so behind is. But winning a major would change our lives. Winning the U.S. Bank would feel great, but it wouldn't change our lives.'
 
THE FULL MONTY:
Colin Montgomerie has only seriously challenged to win the claret jug once, but the combination of his victory two weeks ago in Ireland and the British Open being played in his native Scotland has bookmakers nervous.
 
William Hill has lowered his odds to 25-to-1, but the number of bets placed on Montgomerie to win has been so large that bookmakers say the betting turnover would be more than $50 million.
 
'Despite his failure to make the cut in the Scottish Open last week, Monty is the man the punters want to back for the Open,' Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said. 'Every other bet seems to have his name on at the moment, and we will certainly be handing over a hefty, seven-figure sum to punters should Monty manage to win.'
 
The second worst-case-scenario for the bookmakers would be Luke Donald winning.
 
The bookmakers say Phil Mickelson, who lost the Scottish Open in a playoff, was not getting much action at 14-to-1.
 
Woods remained the favorite at 3-to-1, followed by Ernie Els at 12-to-1.
 
BEST COACHES:
Butch Harmon has what some of his clients want -- a No. 1 ranking.
 
Harmon was voted the top teacher in golf for the fourth straight year in Golf Digest magazine's biennial ranking of America's 50 greatest teachers. More than 1,000 teachers from the 50 states were asked to rate instructors in their region and nominate the best teachers in the nation. Golf Digest combined the results from the local and national survey.
 
Harmon is the swing coach for Adam Scott (No. 4 in the world ranking) and recently was hired by Phil Mickelson, who slipped one spot to No. 3 in the ranking this week. Harmon previously worked with Greg Norman and Tiger Woods when they rose to No. 1.
 
Harmon narrowly beat out David Leadbetter. Hank Haney, who coaches Woods, checked in at No. 3, followed by Jim McLean and Jim Flick. The highest-rated female coach was Pia Nilsson, who works with Annika Sorenstam, at No. 21.
 
LOVE OF CLUBS:
Golfers can get downright emotional about their clubs. Just listen to Zach Johnson, who was clearly rattled when his bag didn't accompany him on the flight to Scotland.
 
The Masters champ was practicing Tuesday with a backup set when he got a call from his trainer on the fourth hole.
 
'He goes, 'Where are you?'' Johnson recounted. 'I'm like, 'Are my clubs here?' He said, 'Where are you?' And I said, 'Are my clubs here?' And he said, 'Yes.''
 
And what was Johnson's reaction?
 
'I nearly cried, put it that way,' he said. 'Not that the clubs I was using were bad, they just weren't mine. I don't like to mess around. I'm very particular about my grips. They don't have my grips here.'
 
Of course, it's easy to understand why Johnson is so attached to these clubs. He used them to pull off his upset win at Augusta National in April.
 
'I was very concerned,' he said. 'And now I'm very, very, very, very happy that my clubs are here.'
 
DIVOTS:
Annika Sorenstam has launched her own Web site (www.annikasorenstam.com). She tried to get 'Annika' as her site, but it already was taken by an unknown Swedish outfit. Along with offering details of her career, academy, golf course design and fitness advice, Sorenstam also shares some of her favorite recipes. ... Former U.S. Open and British Open champion Tony Jacklin has been named the 2007 Ambassador of Golf, an award presented each year at Firestone to the person who has fostered ideals of the game on an international level.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Europe has had 18 players finish in the top five at a major since Paul Lawrie became the last European to win a major championship at Carnoustie in 1999.
 
FINAL WORD:
'You enjoy a major afterward. From Thursday to Sunday, it's hard work.' -- Ernie Els.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 136th Open Championship
  • 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