Ochoas status as player of year on the line

By Associated PressNovember 11, 2009, 5:28 pm

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP)—Lorena Ochoa has been the LPGA’s player of the yearthree straight times, a string that could end this week at her own tournament.

Threatening to ruin the party at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational is21-year-old South Korean Jiyai Shin. She has already won the rookie of the yearaward and leads Ochoa by four points in the player of the year contest.

Two tournaments remain, including next week’s LPGA Tour Championship inHouston.

“It’s been a year with a little bit more ups and downs,” said Ochoa, thegame’s top-ranked player. “The great thing is that I have the opportunity to beplayer of the year again. It’s going to be tough.”

Shin has won three times this season, and she won three times last year onthe LPGA Tour before she was even a member, including a victory in the 2008Women’s British Open. If she wins Ochoa’s tournament on Sunday—and Ochoafinishes eighth or lower—Shin will be the player of the year.

The last player to pull off the double was Nancy Lopez in 1978.

Shin also leads the season money list with $1.7 million, ahead of Japan’s AiMiyazato with $1.5 million. Ochoa is fifth at $1.3 million.

No South Korean—not even veteran Se Ri Pak—has finished No. 1 on themoney list, and no Korean has ever been player of the year. Shin is the sixthKorean to win rookie of the year.

“At the beginning of the season my goal was rookie of the year,” Shinsaid. “But I’ve already made that and now I have a chance for player of theyear, too. … There’s no pressure because I have already made my goal. Playerof the year is a bonus thing for me.”

Besides Shin and Ochoa, a few others have mathematical chances at player ofthe year, but they are long shots. They include: Cristie Kerr, Miyazato, YaniTseng, Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi and Angela Stanford.

The 27-year-old Ochoa has won three times this season, but she failed tocontend in any of the four majors. Of course, this season is being compared tothe three previous when she won a combined 21 times, including two majors.

She’s playing better after a midseason slump with top-five finishes in fourof her last five tournaments, including a victory in the Navistar LPGA Classic amonth ago.

But she’s acknowledged that planning for her marriage next month and otheroff-course obligations have been a distraction.

“I’m going to try to play like it’s any other week,” Ochoa said. “I’llconcentrate on my game and leave all the distractions outside the ropes.”

The 36-player field at the Guadalajara Country Club—where Ochoa learnedthe game—is small but loaded with the top 31 on the LPGA money list, and fiveplaying on sponsors exceptions. Included among the exceptions are Laura Davies,Natalie Gulbis and Juli Inkster.

“There is nothing nicer than playing at home,” Ochoa said. “I’m going todo my best to enjoy the event.”

And hope Shin doesn’t spoil it.

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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