Rose expects British golfer to contend this week

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2010, 4:20 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Rule Britannia.

A British golfer hasn’t won his own Open in more than a decade, and it’s been even longer since an Englishman hoisted the claret jug. That could change at St. Andrews this week, given the way golfers from the United Kingdom – all of Europe, really – have dominated the winner’s lists on both sides of the Atlantic lately.

“I expect one of us to be in contention on Sunday, just pure numbers,” said Justin Rose, who’s leading the charge after winning twice on the PGA Tour in a five-week span. “Numerically, you look at the world rankings, you look at the opportunity for us. It’s probably better than it’s been, dare I say, ever. Just using that basis, I think one of us will be in contention Sunday afternoon.”

Stuck in the shadows of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for so many years, the Europeans pose their biggest threat since the days of Seve, Faldo and Ollie. After eight years without a major champion, Europeans have now won four of the last 12, including Graeme McDowell’s surprise win at the U.S. Open last month. McDowell’s big victory was part of a stretch that saw Europeans win four PGA events in five weeks – and Rose had a shot at winning the fifth as the 54-hole leader.

Half the players in the current top 20 hail from Europe, with all but three of the 10 from Britain or Northern Ireland. Only six of the top 20 are Americans. Compare that to five years ago, the last time the British Open was held at St. Andrews. Back then, the Americans had nine players in the top 20, while all of Europe managed just five, two from Britain or Northern Ireland.

“You look at the last five years of the majors, and the English and the British players have started to get more and more experience. For me that was what spurred me on,” said Nick Faldo, whose win at the 1992 British Open was the last by an Englishman. “I think everybody is learning and everybody is really keen. I think something is going to happen this week.”

While part of Europe’s rise is simply cyclical, there is more to it.

When Padraig Harrington won the 2007 British Open, he was Europe’s first major champion since Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999. Harrington kept the claret jug for a second straight year in 2008, and added the Wanamaker Trophy at the PGA Championship.

Suddenly, all those players who wondered if they’d ever catch up to the Americans, Australians and the South Africans realized one of their own already had. Same with McDowell’s win at Pebble Beach, the first at America’s national championship by a European in 40 years.

“To see him win that, it gave me a lot of confidence just to know winning a major wasn’t as far away as I thought it was,” said Rory McIlroy, who has already proven he’s got the game to win – and win often – with his dominant display at Quail Hollow in May. “I had sort of viewed winning majors as this higher level, and it made me realize that it wasn’t. You just need to play well in the right week, and have a few things go your way.”

McIlroy is only 21, the kind of precocious talent that could carry the continent for a generation. The Northern Irishman turned pro in 2007, earned his European card without going to Q-school and broke into the top 10 in the world before his 21st birthday.

“The fields seem to be a lot more wide open nowadays and guys are believing that they can do it,” McDowell said. “To be part of that inspiration factor, hopefully, for European golfers and for a guy maybe to win this week or to win at the PGA, I’m comfortable with that.”

Lee Westwood’s bum calf probably will keep him from doing much at St. Andrews, but he’s ranked No. 3 in the world and Europe’s top player last season. When he was honored at the British golf writers’ dinner Tuesday night, Westwood looked over at PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and said, “Congratulations to Steve Stricker. Always nice to see an American win on your tour.”

Ouch. Hard to argue, though. Stricker’s victory Sunday at the Deere Classic was only the second by an American since the beginning of June.

“Getting over to the States and playing a lot more with obviously the best players in the world … you become more comfortable with them,” McDowell said. “And, obviously, you feel like you can start to compete, rather than seeing them less often and being over-awed.

“I’m just proud to be part of a strong British and Irish contingent, and part of a strong European contingent right now,” he added. “It would be great to see another one of the boys win this week.”

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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