RW Eeks Out First Champions Tour Win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
Champions TourENDICOTT, N.Y. -- The long wait is over for R.W. Eaks.
 
Eaks, who never finished better than seventh in a PGA TOUR event and was winless in 90 events over six seasons on the Champions Tour, shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the inaugural Dick's Sporting Goods Open.
 
Eaks, a self-taught golfer from Colorado who has five runner-up finishes the past two years, completed the three rounds over the narrow and tricky En-Joie Golf Club course at 17-under 199. He won $240,000 to push his earnings for the year past $1 million.
 
Not bad for a guy who was told after his only golf lesson to give up the game.
 
'I honestly didn't know if I could win a tournament,' Eaks said. 'Man, this is great! I want to do it again.'
 
Tour rookie Bruce Vaughan, bidding to become the first open qualifier to win a tournament since Pete Oakley won the 2004 Senior British Open, provided the only real challenge. But Vaughan (68) never mounted a charge over the closing holes and finished second, three shots behind.
 
Lonnie Nielsen had a closing 67 to finish third at 10 under, one shot better than D.A. Weibring (66) and Andy Bean (68).
 
Scott Hoch (73), seeking his second win of the year, missed four birdie putts on the front nine, never found his touch on the backside and finished tied for sixth with John Harris (69) and Boonchu Ruangkit (69), nine shots behind.
 
Eaks began the day with a one-shot lead over Vaughan and a two-shot advantage over Hoch. It was just the second time in his Champions Tour career that Eaks had led going into the final round. He led Bob Gilder by one stroke after 36 holes at the 2005 SAS Championship before closing with a 77 and finishing in a tie for 10th.
 
This time he was aggressive from the start and didn't falter, even with Hoch and Craig Stadler, who counts the 1982 Masters as one of the 13 tournaments he won on the PGA Tour, in close pursuit.
 
Stadler was three shots behind Eaks to begin the round. He was 2 under on the front side and a birdie at No. 10 moved him to 11 under. But a bogey at No. 14 and a double-bogey at 15 took him out of contention. He finished with a 73, tied for ninth with Jack Ferenz.
 
Eaks is known for his distance off the tee and he used it to open a three-shot lead at the turn.
 
After making birdie at the par-4 second hole, he hit his second shot at the 554-yard, par-5 third hole within six feet of the pin and made eagle to get to 14 under.
 
The thunderstorms that were forecast never materialized, but a stiff, gusting wind briefly buffeted the course while the final threesome was playing the par-5 fifth hole.
 
And the 55-year-old Eaks, who had five drives ricochet harmlessly off trees on his bogey-free, second-round 62, kept his string of good luck going. His drive struck a spruce tree along the right side of the fairway, the ball bounced back onto the fairway, and he parred the hole.
 
Eaks saved par at the par-3 seventh hole, which he aced on Saturday, with a brilliant shot out of a greenside bunker that traveled across the expansive green and stopped 3 feet from the pin.
 
And when Hoch and Vaughan elected to lay up at the par-5 eighth hole, Eaks took a wood from his bag, drilled a shot over the five greenside bunkers onto the green, and two-putted from about 15 feet for birdie to reach 15 under.
 
Vaughan rallied with a birdie on the next hole, but Eaks replied with one of his own to maintain his three-shot cushion at the turn.
 
'I'm throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them, but they're hanging right in there,' Eaks said as he headed for No. 10.
 
Vaughan moved within two shots of the lead with a birdie on the next hole, but when Eaks faltered at the par-5 12th hole Vaughan failed to capitalize.
 
Eaks' second shot landed under some trees to the right of the green and he had to punch out, the ball landing short of the green. But Vaughan drove into the right rough and hit his third shot just over the green to the edge of a sand trap, and both players ended with pars.
 
Eaks secured the breakthrough triumph when Vaughan dropped a shot at the par-4 16th hole, two-putting for bogey from just over 7 feet.
 
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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.


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    Man of the people


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    Victory at Valderrama


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm