Rookies Excited to Play with Annika

By Associated PressMay 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Dean Wilson is a journeyman who has spent most of his career on the Japanese Tour. Aaron Barber is an eight-year pro who didn't earn his first PGA Tour check until two months ago.
 
They will be in the most-watched group at the Colonial. And not because of anything they've done.
 
They're Annika Sorenstam's playing partners for the first two rounds at Colonial Country Club, where she will become the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour.
 
'It's a unique experience to be able to play with her in a tournament atmosphere like this,' said Wilson, who wore a 'Go Annika' button he bought for $3 at Colonial's pro shop.
 
Wilson and Barber look forward to competing with the world's No. 1 female player. The PGA Tour rookies insist they're not concerned about the extra attention from reporters and fans, or the chance Sorenstam could post better scores.
 
'Anybody can beat me when I play bad,' Wilson said.
 
Barber added: 'She is going to beat some people, there's no doubt. I'm worried about 113 people beating me every week.'
 
Their names were selected randomly by a computer. Like Sorenstam, Wilson and Barber were drawn out of the category of players who haven't won or finished in the top 125 on the money list.
 
Wilson and Barber, on tour after finally earning their cards through qualifying school last fall, met Sorenstam for the first time Tuesday. They were leaving their news conference as she was entering the same crowded interview room for hers.
 
They'll play together Thursday, when they start on the 10th tee at 8:58 a.m., the last morning trio on the course. Their second round begins on the first tee at 1:43 p.m. Friday.
 
'She will probably feel more pressure,' Barber said. 'After all, the spotlight's on her. I was surprised that we even had to do a press conference. We're just the two guys playing with her.'
 
Barber got into the tournament the same way as Sorenstam, on a sponsor's exemption.
 
Some PGA Tour players have criticized Sorenstam's decision to play. Defending Colonial champ Nick Price called her appearance a publicity stunt.
 
Barber and Wilson disagreed.
 
'She has every right to be in this tournament, and I'm all for her playing well,' Wilson said.
 
Barber said Sorenstam has 'earned this opportunity based on her resume.'
 
'She's very dominant on the LPGA Tour, and I think it's a way for her to test herself at a higher level,' he said.
 
Wilson, 33, won three times on the Japanese Tour in 2001, when he finished third on the money list. He had made only six PGA Tour starts before this season, and his best finish ever was two weeks ago, when he tied for seventh in the Wachovia Championship.
 
Barber, 30, turned pro in 1996. His only top-10 finish was a tie for fourth in March in Tucson, which was played opposite a World Golf Championship event. That was also his first tour paycheck ($132,000), and the first of three straight cuts he made before missing his last six.
 

Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Annika and the Colonial Timeline
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial
     

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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