South Africa gets $10 millon WGC event
A new $10 million World Golf Championships event to be hosted by the tour was heralded by Sunshine commissioner Gareth Tindall on Tuesday as the launch of “a world tour” and “the most significant thing that has happened to South African golf in its history.”
Tindall, emboldened by Charl Schwartzel’s Masters victory on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s first green jacket, said the Tournament of Hope underlined the shift in player power away from the United States.
“The significance of what we’ve done is potential, and the U.S. tour might slag me for this, but essentially we are starting the world tour,” Tindall said. “It’s been a matter of time.
“I think what we’ve done could potentially create the impetus to start a world tour because Australia are certainly going to do what we’ve done, and Europe are going to have to do what we’ve done.”
The date and venue for the new WGC event – just the second outside the U.S. after Shanghai’s HSBC Champions – had not been finalized, Tindall said, but organizers were looking at the first week of December.
That put the tournament with the world’s biggest purse on a collision course with Woods’ Chevron Challenge, co-sponsored by the PGA Tour, and the Sunshine Tour’s Nedbank Challenge at Sun City.
Chevron attracted Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy as well as Woods last December. Nedbank’s field included Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
Tindall said the Tournament of Hope would take priority over both.
“They will have to move it (the Chevron Challenge), unfortunately for them,” he said. “They moved the Tiger Chevron Challenge to the same date as the Nedbank Golf Challenge without any consultation so I suppose it’s a bit of payback time.
“They need to move that date.”
The five-year deal to hold the WGC event in South Africa was clinched after extensive meetings with the PGA Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours during the Masters last week, Tindall said.
Thanks to Schwartzel’s first major victory, none of the major titles are held by an American. Countryman Louis Oosthuizen holds the British Open trophy and another South African, Tim Clark, will defend the Players Championship – considered the “fifth major” and currently the richest event with a $9.5 million purse.
“The internationals now hold the power in world golf,” Tindall said. “For how long, we don’t know.”
The Tournament of Hope will be the fifth WGC event on the calendar. The world’s 70 top-ranked players qualify for WGC tournaments and Tindall was certain the best in the world would travel to South Africa.
The prize money was “too good to turn down,” he said.
He also outlined the Tournament of Hope forming part of a campaign to raise awareness for AIDS and poverty, with pop concerts and cycling races in places like Australia and Japan planned to coincide with the tournament in South Africa.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18