Notes: Simpson hits in fan's lap; Donald's 'B' game

By Associated PressJune 18, 2011, 9:30 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – It probably won’t cost Webb Simpson a tournament this time. Still, he must be wondering what he did to get on the wrong side of the golf gods.

Simpson’s early round of 5-under 66 at the U.S. Open on Saturday included a penalty stroke when his ball moved after he addressed it with his putter on the 13th green. It was the same penalty he took seven weeks ago at the Zurich Open in New Orleans.

“I addressed the ball, and the ball moved about a half-inch, quarter-inch,” Simpson said. “I think we’ve been through this too many times, hadn’t we? But it was kind of the same deal as New Orleans. It was unfortunate, but I think it really made me committed to try to finish strong and I made a couple of good birdies coming in.”

Simpson said it was his third time such penalty as a pro. It also happened to him once while playing at Wake Forest.

But it was the misfortune at Zurich that might lead to a change in the rules of golf. He was leading by a shot and heading for a tap-in on the 15th hole on Sunday, but the ball moved as he addressed it on the green. He wound up taking a penalty and finished in a tie with Bubba Watson, who beat Simpson in the playoff.

The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient are looking into changing the rule so that the golfer isn’t penalized if it can be proven the ball was moved by an outside force.

But it was still in effect at the U.S. Open, which cost Simpson a stroke in the best round of the early going.

Simpson managed to come out even on a more adventurous hole. His drive at No. 18 landed in the lap of a spectator sitting cross-legged on the ground along the ropes. The fan dutifully sat there alone as everyone around him retreated. Simpson walked up to him and humorously pantomimed a swing, as if he were going to play the ball from exactly where it was.

“I’m a pretty experienced golfer,” said the fan, Todd Parker, “so I knew not to move.”

A rules official came along and instructed Simpson to pick up the ball. He took a drop and made a nice recovery, even though his follow-through smacked against the trunk of a large tree. He parred the hole.

“I’ve never had a ball end up in somebody’s lap,” Simpson said. “It reminded me of ‘Happy Gilmore.’ It ended up being a good break, just to the right of the trees. The rough there wasn’t high, it was laid down, so it was a pretty good break.”


BUBBA’S GETUP: Yes, Bubba Watson is indeed changing his clothes every day during the U.S. Open. The military green shirt and camouflage pants he’s been wearing? He actually brought four sets of that outfit to Congressional, one to wear for each round.

The getup was the result of a contest he held on Twitter and Facebook for fans to design a shirt for him to wear this week. The winner received a free trip to the championship.

After the tournament, the shirts will be sold for charity, the proceeds going to the Green Beret Foundation.

“My dad was in Vietnam,” Watson said. “So, yeah, actually it’s a big part of us. We don’t like war, but at the same time the people over there are fighting so we can play golf for a living, we’ve got to support them.”


AMATEUR HOUR: Even the amateurs aren’t succumbing to the rigors of the Blue Course.

Patrick Cantlay is 1 under at the U.S. Open after his third-round 70 on Saturday. The highlight came when the 19-year-old Californian holed out from the bunker at No. 15 for a birdie.

“That was really exciting,” Cantlay said. “It was kind of a tough bunker shot because the green runs away from you, but I nipped it pretty good and it ended up going in.”

Cantlay just completed his freshman year at UCLA and this month won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s top college golfer. His visit to Congressional this week is also proving to be quite an education for when he turns pro, which he says won’t happen until he’s earned his degree.

“I’ll just be really confident and know that I can compete out here,” he said. “I’ll know what it’s like to have played in the U.S. Open with the golf course and the fans and walking around with all the people.”

Cantlay isn’t a sure bet to be the low amateur. He’s only one stroke ahead of Russell Henley, who shot 71 on Saturday.

The other amateur who made the cut finally hit the wall. Brad Benjamin shot 80, the worst round of the day, and sits at 12 over heading into Sunday.


A MONEY BIRDIE, IN MORE WAYS THAT ONE: Adam Hadwin arrived at the U.S. Open early Saturday with one hole to play. Shoot a birdie, and he’d get to play 36 more.

The 22-year-old from British Columbia was about to tee off at No. 9 Friday evening when the horn sounded, suspending play for the day. He was at 5 over, one stroke below the cut line.

“I was in the clubhouse and I checked the scores and I knew that 4 was going to be the number, so I needed birdie,” Hadwin said. “It was a late night, early morning.”

Teeing off at 8:15 a.m. at the long par 5, Hadwin put his drive in the rough, got his second shot to 98 yards and nailed his approach within 6 inches. Easy birdie putt. Cut made. His trip to Congressional will come with a paycheck.

“You’ve got to splurge a little bit here,” said Hadwin, whose Saturday evening plans included a trip into Washington, D.C., to see the sights. “This is my first Open, and so I’m going to treat myself well and enjoy, and obviously making the cut helps.”

The birdie came with another, more important payoff. Hadwin’s brother was recently hospitalized with Crohn’s disease, so the two of them created a campaign to solicit pledges for every birdie Hadwin makes at the championship.

After making the cut, Hadwin showered, ate breakfast, then teed off in the third round with the first group at 10 a.m. He shot a 73 despite the quick turnaround and snagged three more birdies, giving him nine for the tournament and a total of about $10,000 raised for his cause.

“Tomorrow’s just going to be about having fun and making birdies,” he said.


NO. 1 BUT NOT HIS A-GAME: Luke Donald’s approach at No. 15 landed on a nasty steep slope next to the green. He made a nice recovery, chipping near the pin for a short putt for par.

It’s been that kind of week at the U.S. Open for the No. 1 player in the world. Good and bad. Enough bad that he’s 7 over after three rounds, well out of contention and certain to leave without that elusive first major title.

“It’s been a mixture of everything, really,” Donald said after his round of 74 Saturday. “I haven’t driven it well enough, obviously that puts pressure on your irons. And today I really didn’t make enough putts and could’ve shot a couple under quite easily if I’d made a few putts. It’s one of those weeks where I’m not quite firing.”

He certainly wasn’t about to blame the course. In fact, he said Congressional was playing more like a stop on the PGA Tour.

“The rough isn’t quite as gnarly as at some other U.S. Opens,” said Donald, adding that the greens were also soft because of the rain on Friday. “It has that different feel. It almost feels like the Firestone or something. It’s still tough out there, some tough pins, and you’ve got to play well to shoot a good score.”

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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