Snedeker rallies denies Donald top spot

By Associated PressApril 25, 2011, 2:46 am
The HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The toughest part of Brandt Snedeker’s day was spent in the clubhouse.

Snedeker posted an out-of-nowhere 7-under 64 on Sunday to come from six shots behind to finish in the lead at The Heritage nearly two hours before the round ended.

So Snedeker headed inside to watch, wait and see if he’d get back on the course. He eventually did, beating Luke Donald in a playoff Sunday and denying the Englishman a chance at No. 1.

“It was brutal,” Snedeker said of his time in front of the TV.

“I don’t want them to do bad, but I don’t want them to do great, either.”

In the end, Snedeker had the great finish, surviving against one of the world’s best in a gritty three-hole playoff for his second career PGA Tour win and first since the 2007 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., in his rookie season.

“To win this time, after all the hard work I put in the last three or four years, trying to improve, trying to get better,” he said. “I feel like my game is finally there.”

It certainly was at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Snedeker birdied seven of his first 12 holes to grab the lead just as the final pair of Donald and defending champion Jim Furyk teed off. Then Snedeker closed the final round with a 12-foot birdie putt on the signature, closing lighthouse hole at No. 18.

“It’s a storybook ending really, to be playing Luke in a playoff, to even have a chance to win was exciting to me,” he said.

Donald would’ve risen to the top spot in the world from No. 3 had he won. His countryman, Lee Westwood, moved from No. 2 to No. 1, replacing Martin Kaymer, after winning the Indonesian Masters earlier Sunday.

Donald saved par from difficult spots on the 71st and 72nd holes to force the playoff, then did it again on the second extra hole. But his luck ran out on Harbour Town Golf Links’ closing lighthouse hole, No. 18, when he got a partially buried lie in a front bunker.

Donald blasted out about 15 feet from the flag and his chip for par from just off the green hit the back edge of the cup and bounced away, giving Snedeker the victory.

Snedeker said he was more worried about getting to New Orleans for next week’s event when he woke up Sunday than contending for the title Sunday.

Tommy Gainey finished a stroke back after a 68.

Donald was the steadiest player most of the week at Harbour Town. He had birdies on the fourth and fifth holes to get to 13 under, but dropped back after bogeys on the seventh and 10th holes. He caught Snedeker with a birdie on No. 13, then parred his way in for the playoff.

“It was going to be some big rewards if I won today,” Donald said. “But I’ll try and find the positives from this week and move on.”

At least Donald leaves No. 1 at something, making $615,000 to top of the PGA Tour money list.

This figured to come down to a final-round duel between the final pair of third-round leader Donald and Furyk, who was only a stroke behind at the start, until Snedeker’s run.

“Kind of came out of nowhere,” Snedeker said.

Donald certainly kept him on the edge of his seat.

After Donald’s final birdie of regulation, he missed makable birdie tries on the 15th and 16th holes. Then Donald looked like he’d shoot himself out of it, sending his tee shot on the par-3 17th off the back, then landing his approach into the bunker in front of No. 18. Both times Donald chipped within 4 feet to save par.

Snedeker and Donald traded birdies on the first extra hole, the 18th, and pars on the second one, the 17th.

Snedeker hit the green on the last playoff hole and two-putted for par to win $1,026,000. The biggest question facing Snedeker now is whether he’ll be back to defend his title.

The Heritage is without a title sponsor, something PGA Tour and event leaders say is essential for its return in 2012. There was talk all week of a Sunday surprise, an announcement of a backer to give assurances to pros. None was forthcoming, though, and tournament director Steve Wilmot said “the sponsorship search continues in earnest.”

Gainey, bidding to become the first South Carolina native to win the state’s PGA Tour event, missed a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole that would’ve put him to the playoff.

“I would have loved to have won,” said Gainey, who gained fame as “Two Gloves” on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” series. “I think it’s the second best tournament on tour” behind the Masters.

Furyk finished with his highest score, 76, his past 33 rounds at Harbour Town to fall from contention. “I just kind of got on a bad roll and it snowballed on me today,” he said.

Tim Herron (67) and Ricky Barnes (69) tied for fourth, two shots out of the playoff.

Snedeker said he faced softer conditions with his earlier tee time that fueled his hot start. He had birdies on the second, third and fourth holes to move within two of the lead, then added birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 9 to finish the front side at 30 and put himself alongside Donald on top of the leaderboard.

Things weren’t as easy for Snedeker on the back. He bogeyed the 13th and 16th holes, but rallied one last time with the birdie on the difficult 18th.

When it was over, he shook hands with Donald and told him to keep his chin up. “I just told him he’s going to be No. 1. Sorry it didn’t go the right way for him,” Snedeker said.

DIVOTS: Ian Poulter, 16th in the world this week, struggled on the weekend with a 75-71 after going 7 under the first two rounds. Maybe the problem was supernatural. Poulter tweeted several times that he thought the house he was in this week was haunted. Poulter says the house had a dead-bolted door and every time he gets up “the door is unlocked and slightly open.” He says it happened seven times this week. Spooky. … U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, No. 5 in the world, also had troubles on the weekend, going 74-74 after opening 5-under par.

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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