Sabbatini Seeking Spark at Nelson

By Associated PressMay 10, 2006, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas -- Rory Sabbatini is finally having the kind of season he always felt was possible.
 
'I sensed it more and more, and then last year was just a complete letdown,' said Sabbatini, playing near home this week at the Byron Nelson Championship.
 
'Going into this year just made it a lot easier not putting added pressure on myself and setting goals. Just go out there and play.'
 
The youngest player on the PGA TOUR when he was a 22-year-old rookie in 1999, Sabbatini started this season with six straight top-20 finishes. The South African was second twice before winning the Nissan Open and taking over the top spot on the money list for the first time in his career. Despite not finishing better than 33rd and missing the cut twice since, Sabbatini isn't frustrated.
 
'Ultimately, you've got to look in the perspective of all things considered,' he said. 'You don't have that much to be frustrated about.'
 
Sabbatini is still sixth on the money list with $2.3 million -- already more than in any season other than his career-best $2.5 million in 2004 when he had seven top 10s. (He was 89th with $920,988 and only three top 10s last year).
 
As for the difference in how the season started and his last five tournaments, Sabbatini can think of only one thing that has really changed.
 
'I'm still putting well, hitting the ball well, and everything like that,' he said. 'Just getting started, it doesn't seem like there's been that spark to get the round going for me of late.'
 
Maybe sleeping in his own bed in nearby Southlake, and being home for the Byron Nelson, without Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, will get him back on track. The first round is Thursday.
 
Woods, whose record streak of 142 straight cuts ended at the Nelson last year, has not said when he will return after the death of his father, Earl, last week.
 
Mickelson's streak of 10 straight Nelson appearances began with his win in 1996. The Masters champion cited personal reasons when he withdrew this week, and had previously hinted that he was tired and needed a break before playing his way to the U.S. Open, and a shot as his third straight major victory.
 
'I want them in the field. I mean, you want to beat those players,' defending Nelson champion Ted Purdy said. 'All those guys are really tough to beat. If they're not in the field, it's just two less guys that we have to beat. ... Whoever took Phil's place probably has winning on his mind, too.'
 
Purdy's first victory came last May when the Nelson field included the world's top five players: Woods, Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.
 
'It's been the best year of my life being defending champion,' said Purdy, who was fifth at Bay Hill for his only top 10 this season.
 
Purdy defends his only PGA TOUR title against a field with six of the top 10 players, but missing the top three. Goosen also isn't back after missing the cut in his only Nelson appearance.
 
That makes Singh, playing his 20th tournament since last winning at the Buick Open in July, the highest-ranked player in the field. He tied for third last year at the Nelson, and was the 2004 champion -- one of nine tournaments he won that season before four more wins last year.
 
Singh lost in a playoff to Stuart Appleby in the season-opening Mercedes Championship and has seven top 10s while making the cut in all 11 of his tournaments this season. But he's coming off his two worst performances: tie for 36th at the Houston Open, where he was the two-time defending champion, and a tie for 38th last week at the Wachovia Championship.
 
Els is also playing, but he's no longer in the top five. Jim Furyk won the Wachovia last week and took over No. 5, dropping Els a spot.
 
'It's a nice thing to be in the top 5, but I've never really put a lot of emphasis on world rankings,' said Furyk, who was also that high in 2003 when he won the U.S. Open. 'That's not important. What's important is trying to win golf tournaments and trying to get better in this game.'
 
Furyk has never won consecutive tournaments, his 11 victories coming in 10 different seasons. The only season he won twice was in 2003, when he also won the Buick Open.
 
Related Links:
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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