Notes No More Tuesday Pro-Ams Freddie on Augusta
That won't be the case next year for the Memorial of Nicklaus or Palmer's Bay Hill Invitational. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had said it would be best for all pro-ams to be held on the same day, and both tournaments confirmed they will move theirs to Wednesdays.
'I'm not objectionable to it,' Palmer said. 'In the beginning, we tried to do some extra stuff to make it attractive to the players, but now the indication is the guys want to come in on Tuesday night and play Wednesday in the pro-am as their practice round.'
Memorial tournament director Dan Sullivan said a move to Wednesday was in the works long before the tour got involved. He was concerned about players who had been with their families over the Memorial Day weekend and might have to rush to get to Ohio for a Tuesday pro-am.
The PGA Tour has a policy that players must take part in the pro-am if they want to compete in a tournament. Phil Mickelson missed the Memorial last year, saying he wanted to spend three days at Pinehurst to prepare for the U.S. Open and couldn't get back for the pro-am.
Sullivan said the Memorial, which honors star players each year, would move that ceremony to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. The pro-am is for only 18 players and features a shotgun start on 12 holes. That will take place at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, allowing others to practice in the morning.
The Tour Championship also has a Tuesday pro-am, and Mickelson used that as an excuse not to play this year. That pro-am also will move to Wednesday.
'There will be no Tuesday pro-ams next year,' said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition. 'That helps some players who have an obligation Monday and Tuesday, whether it's an outing or a commitment to sponsors.'
Former Masters champion Fred Couples already has played Augusta National five times in two trips since the course opened after more changes to lengthen six holes.
He shot a 64 a few weeks ago but kept that nugget from players who came by his locker two weeks ago at Sherwood Country Club and milked him for information.
The first hole is 20 yards longer and now plays 455 yards, making it difficult to get up the hill.
'The last day, I hit 3-wood into No. 1,' Couples said, neglecting to tell them it was 8 a.m. and not quite 50 degrees, so the ball wasn't traveling all that far.
He was asked what he hit on No. 7, which was lengthened 40 yards. It played as a 2-iron and a wedge when Couples won in 1992. He told them he killed a drive and had a 5-iron left.
David Toms walked by.
'It's perfect for you, the way you hit your 5-wood,' Couples told him.
After they all left wide-eyed, Couples winked and said, 'I've got them all scared now. It's not that bad.'
Heather Daly-Donofrio has received the William and Mousie Powell Award for behavior and deeds that best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA Tour.
A Yale graduate who returned to coach at her alma mater while keeping a full schedule, Daly-Donofrio has won twice and averaged 22 stars a year. She balanced her time inside the ropes this year with serving as president of the LPGA Tour and co-chair of the search committee for a new commissioner.
Amy Read was honored with the Heather Farr Player Award, given to the LPGA player who shows determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals. Farr died in 1993 after a 4 1/2 -year battle with cancer.
Read has fought through injuries to her ankle, wrist, shoulder and knees, and has had eight knee surgeries since 1995. That was followed by two shoulder surgeries earlier this year, and doctors discovered she had Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease.
Read is on the course nearly every day with hopes of playing Monday qualifiers to get back on tour.
Royal Birkdale is the latest British Open venue to strengthen its links by adding 154 yards, 16 fairway bunkers and redoing the 17th green.
The Open returns to Birkdale in 2008 for the first time since Mark O'Meara beat Brian Watts in a playoff.
'Royal Birkdale has always been a strong Open venue, and we feel that by introducing these changes, that challenge can be maintained,' Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said.
The most significant change is likely to be No. 6, a par-4 that will play 499 yards. A bunker will be added at the left corner of the dogleg right, 280 yards from the tee. Another bunker will be added left of the green.
In 1998, the sixth hole was the toughest at Birkdale, yielding only 16 birdies and playing to an average of 4.62.
CHANGE OF LUCK
Tiger Woods has his red shirt for Sunday. Michael Campbell once wore red socks for luck.
But not anymore.
'That was about 10 years ago,' the U.S. Open champion said with a smile. 'I did for a while, yeah. At the (1995) British Open, I wore red socks. And then I started missing cuts, so I changed back. They're black and gray now.'
The last time anyone remembered Campbell and his red socks was in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa, were Woods beat him, 5 and 4.
Tour officials had been leaning toward taking the World Cup to China in 2006, but instead it will be moving to the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, site of Tiger Woods' wedding last year. ... Vijay Singh will be playing next month in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, to be held opposite the Bob Hope Classic. Also playing Abu Dhabi are Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia and John Daly. ... The 2007 Senior British Open will be held at Muirfield to coincide with the 50th birthday of Nick Faldo, who won two of his three claret jugs there.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Ever since Augusta National changed its qualifications in 2000, only five Americans have had to rely on top 50 in the world ranking to get into the Masters.
'Daytime television is pretty depressing.' -- Ernie Els, on the low point of a year in which he spent four months recovering from knee surgery.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18