Notes Webbs Loyalty Harringtons Strange Season
That includes a family in Ocala who opened their home to a 20-year-old stranger from Australia.
Webb played the Futures Tour for two months in 1995 as she waited for the European Tour season to begin. To save expenses, she stayed with a host family during the Ocala tournament, which she won. Over the years, Craig and Debbie Mueller have been like a second set of parents.
'They're my American family,' Webb said.
The Muellers kept in touch as Webb made it through LPGA qualifying, her sensational rookie season, her 30 victories and six majors and her swift journey to the Hall of Fame.
Going into the final round of the '01 U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles, Webb saw a familiar face on her way to the first tee and asked that the USGA allow the Muellers on the 18th green if she were to win. Webb won by eight.
'They've seen more wins than my parents,' Webb said, noting that her mother was only able to travel to one tournament a year from Australia. 'They've always been there. They come out to a couple of tournaments a year, and we talk every now and then. They're good people.'
Webb's parents, Rob and Evelyn, and both sisters traveled from Australia for her induction. The Muellers drove over from Ocala and stayed in the background during a reception, no less proud of the Australian kid they invited into their home 10 years ago.
Padraig Harrington isn't sure what to make of his year on the PGA Tour. He missed the cut in all three majors he played and had only four top 10s -- but two of those were victories, at the Honda Classic in a playoff and at the Barclays Classic with an 80-foot eagle on the last hole.
Sure, he was disappointed in his inconsistency.
But considering he has finished runner-up 20 times in Europe, he wouldn't trade the trophies.
'Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one,' Harrington said. 'No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.'
Harrington mentioned Jim Furyk, who lost twice in playoffs this year at the Wachovia Championship and in Las Vegas. Furyk now is 1-6 in playoffs, losing his last six.
'I'm sure they're jumping on Jim's back for not winning all those playoffs,' Harrington said. 'But how good is he playing to get into them? Only that he's in so many playoffs does he have a bad record. The better you play, the more you're going to lose. Because you're going to be there more often.'
The Irishman was asked if he would rather have two victories and no other chances to win, or one victory and six second-place finishes.
Give him the titles.
'Runner-up is only for cash,' he said. 'I'm looking for wins, and nothing else. That's what you get judged on.'
John Engler continued his amazing recovery from a serious car accident by making it to the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying. Engler, who played for Clemson in 2001 when it won the NCAA title, required six surgeries after breaking his leg in a March 2003 crash.
Engler got through the second stage at Deerwood Golf Club, along with former tour winners Steve Stricker, Bill Glasson and Dan Forsman. Glen Day and Joel Edwards did not finish among the top 19, and will have to rely on their status as a past champion to get into events.
At Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach, Fla., Skip Kendall was medalist in the second stage, followed by former Masters champion Larry Mize.
Among those who failed to reach the final stage were Kevin Hall, the former Ohio State player who is deaf.
Also failing to advance was Casey Wittenberg, who has not come close to earning his card since leaving Oklahoma State in 2004. Past tour champions Nolan Henke, Ken Green and Jose Coceres withdrew.
Three more second-stage qualifiers will be held this week, with the final stage in Orlando at the end of the month.
The HSBC Champions event in China marked the official start of the 2006 season on the European tour, which will cover 22 countries on five continents, and won't reach Europe until the end of March.
There will be more tournaments in China (at least six) than in England (five), which again will host the British Open in July at Royal Liverpool. The first European tour event held in Europe will be the Madeira Island Open in Portugal the last weekend in March.
The busy part of the European schedule comes in September.
The HSBC World Match Play Championship, which offers the largest official payoff in golf, will be held at Wentworth on Sept. 14-17. From there, players head to Ireland for the Ryder Cup the next week, followed by the American Express Championship at The Grove just outside London.
Europe and the United States each have seven players among the top 20 in the world ranking. ... Among those in Champions Tour Q-school are Lance Ten Broeck, who has spent the past several years as a caddie for Jesper Parnevik and Robert Allenby. Also in the qualifier, which starts Wednesday in Calimesa, Calif., are Mike Donald, who lost the 1990 U.S. Open in a playoff against Hale Irwin, and Eduardo Romero of Argentina. The top seven earn their cards. ... The Canadian Women's Open is raising its purse $400,000 to $1.7 million.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance and Marc Warren gave Scotland all three Order of Merit winners in Europe on the regular, senior and challenge tours.
'He makes more money this time of year than most of us make during the year.' -- Kenny Perry, on Fred Couples' play during the silly season.
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