Ryder Cup's shadow looms over World Match Play

By Associated PressMay 15, 2012, 9:55 pm

CASARES, Spain – With the Ryder Cup a little more than four months away, Europe's top players couldn't pick a better tournament to impress team captain Jose Maria Olazabal than this week's World Match Play Championship in southern Spain.

The world's top three - Europeans Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood - have all chosen to skip one of only two match-play events on the calendar, but No. 9 Martin Kaymer, No. 12 Justin Rose, 2010 Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell and defending champion Ian Poulter are among the big names present.

Poulter ground out a victory over Donald - then one of the hottest players in the world - in last year's final, proving again that he is one of the grittiest performers in a format that doesn't always reward the lowest scorer.

''I love the cut and thrust of match play and find it a refreshing change from the usual stroke-play format we play week in, week out,'' said Poulter, who is coming off a 25th-place finish at The Players Championship.

''With the fact it's Ryder Cup year, I think it will be even more exciting.''

Brandt Snedeker, who is battling to be part of the United States team for the match in Medinah near Chicago from Sept. 28-30, is the only American in the 24-man field at the Finca Cortesin course near Malaga.

There are eight groups of three players in the round-robin format, with the top two from each going through to the last 16.

Snedeker was drawn in a group alongside veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn and South Africa's Branden Grace, who has taken the European Tour by storm this year and is looking to become the first player to win four events in his first season after graduation from qualifying school.

The omens are good for the 23-year-old South African, too - he won his last match-play event back in his native country six years ago.

''It's come all at once. It's a bit of a shock,'' Grace said of his recent form, which has seen him capture the China Open, Volvo Golf Champions and the Joburg Open.

''I couldn't ask for a better spot. I think at this time, I'm just running with the emotion and the positives.''

Sergio Garcia and fellow Spaniard Alvaro Quiros were selected in the same group, while Rose, British Open champion Darren Clarke and Robert Rock will clash in an all-British group.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie is one of five other major winners in the field and is in line to make Europe's Ryder Cup team, having already won the Qatar Masters this season. This will be the 1999 British Open winner's 500th European Tour event, making him only the 22nd player to achieve that feat.

Finca Cortesin is staging the tournament for the third straight year, following the switch from its long-standing venue of Wentworth in England. Organizers said on Tuesday, however, that the event will be moved next year, possibly outside Europe for the first time in its 47-year history.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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