Thomas Bjorn opens with 64 at Dunhill Links

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2009, 10:50 pm

European Tour

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Thomas Bjorn shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead in the first round of the $5 million Dunhill Links championship on Thursday.

The 38-year-old Dane bounced back from the disappointment of seeing his European team lose the Vivendi Trophy last week to make six birdies and an eagle on the 7,160-yard Kingsbarns layout on the outskirts of St. Andrews.

“I drove the ball fantastic all day and that set it up,” he said, adding that he missed just one fairway, and that only by inches.

“When you drive it as well as I did today, the golf course becomes very simple and for the first time in a long time I rolled in a few putts,” Bjorn said. “It has been a while since I walked off feeling like this.”

Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland shot a 66, also at Kingsbarns, to share second place with Ross McGowan, who had the best score on The Old Course at St. Andrews.

A group of six on 67 included Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, who only got into the tournament last week when Paul Casey withdrew. Jose Manuel Lara of Spain had a 67 at St. Andrews, where the British Open will be played next year.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, third in this event two years ago, had a 68 at Carnoustie, as did Darren Clarke. Two-time champion Padraig Harrington shot 70 at Carnoustie, where he won the first of his two successive Open titles in 2007.

Defending champion Robert Karlsson struggled to a 76 at Carnoustie, while former champion and European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie shot 73.

The field of 168 play a round on each of the three courses over the first three days before the cut for the final round on The Old Course on Sunday. The champion wins $800,000.

Bjorn captained Europe in a 16 1/2 -11 1/2 loss to Britain and Ireland last week in the Vivendi Trophy, a Ryder Cup-style team event. He is also the chairman of the Players Tournament Committee, and those duties have been taking up a lot of his time.

“I put a lot into last week and there has been a lot of stuff going on this year. These are tough, worrying times with companies cutting sponsorships ,and I have those responsibilities on behalf of the players,” Bjorn said. “But today, nothing was out of synch. Everything came together.”

Starting at the 10th, Bjorn birdied four of his first seven holes. He eagled the long third with a 30-foot putt and birdied two of the next three with good approaches.

McIlroy, who is playing the pro-am side of this event with his father Gerry, was 1 over after four holes but birdied five holes after that.

“This sets me up for a nice week,” he said. “It was a solid start on the toughest course and gives me something to build on.”

McIlroy is third in the lucrative Race to Dubai standings, but with Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey injured, he could pass them both this week.

Harrington admitted that memories of his 2007 Open triumph came flooding back.

“I think on every hole there was something that jogged the memory,” said the Irishman, who has had top-10 finishes in his last six events after missing eight cuts earlier in the year as he remodeled his swing.

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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