Perry trying to defend title at Senior Players

By Associated PressJune 25, 2014, 9:51 pm

PITTSBURGH – Kenny Perry spent more than three decades futilely chasing the biggest prizes in golf.

Now he can't seem to stop winning them, on the Champions Tour at least.

The 53-year-old returns to Fox Chapel for the Senior Players Championship on Thursday looking to defend the title he won a year ago, when he overcame a series of near misses in major tournaments with a command performance.

Perry shot 19-under 261 to hold off Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf by two shots last June, stringing together three near perfect rounds that ended 30 years of frustration and took the shackles off his game.

''It just made me a more confident player,'' Perry said Wednesday. ''It made me feel like I finally did it and my response was maybe the floodgates will open.''

Did they ever.

The player who claims he was ''snakebit'' while famously falling short at the 1996 PGA Championship and 2009 Masters now has three major titles under his belt after adding the 2013 U.S. Senior Open last July and the Regions Tradition last month.

''My whole career has always been based on streaks,'' Perry said. ''When I got hot on the PGA Tour, I won multiple times and a lot of times. It's just funny how my game is. It runs in cycles and it just happened all of a sudden.''

Perry knows his game well enough to know when one of the streaks is coming. It's hard to tell if one is in the offing at the moment.

He held off Mark Calcavecchia at the Tradition in May, though it was more of a workmanlike triumph than one of the shot-making clinics Perry puts on when things are going well.

Still, Perry didn't falter when it mattered. He sank a 20-footer to take the lead for good at Shoal Creek then finished with a pair of routine pars. Credit a sense of calmness that comes with the pressure finally off.

''The Tradition I won on Sunday, I had a one-shot lead coming to 18 and I just drilled one right down the middle,'' Perry said.

It's not something he takes for granted.

Perry only needed par on the 18th at Valhalla in his native Kentucky in 1996 to win, only to bogey before losing to Mark Brooks in a playoff. He found himself in the same spot at Augusta five years ago, when four shots on the 18th would have given him an unlikely green jacket at age 48. He bogeyed then too, opening the door for Miguel Angel Cabrera to win his second major.

''I couldn't get it done in either situation,'' Perry said.

Success on the Champions Tour has eased some of the sting. There are few on the tour who can match Perry's length off the tee. When he's not battling his notoriously balky putter, Perry is nearly unbeatable.

''He's like a power pitcher hitting the black every night with his pitches,'' Jay Haas said. ''You know it's going to be a long night for the batters.''

Winning a fourth straight start in a Champions Tour major, however, might be a reach. Perry is at the tail end of a draining stretch that's seen him play eight times in nine weeks, including a tie for 28th at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst earlier this month.

''I'm ready for some time off, some down time and not worrying about trying to make 3-footers or shooting low scores and winning golf tournaments,'' Perry said. ''I'm ready to get away, hang out with my grandkids.''

But only after trying to become the second player to defend at the Senior Players. Arnold Palmer won the event 1982 and 1983. Perry's pro golf career was in its infancy back in those days. Now he finds himself thinking about the end of the line.

Perry will return to Valhalla for the PGA Championship in August in what he's calling – for now at least – his final bow on the PGA Tour.

''Most athletes who have a long career, you don't get to say goodbye the way you want to say goodbye,'' Perry said. ''When your career is over, it's over.''

Not for Perry, who has found second life – and a second chance – on the Champions Tour.

''It's been great,'' he said. ''I won't have this opportunity ever again probably so I'm enjoying the run, enjoying the ride.''

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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