Tiger Left to Debate Greatness of 2005 Season

By Associated PressNovember 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)ATLANTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods boarded his plane at midnight for Shanghai, starting a four-week stretch of five events before he can wrap a ribbon around 2005 and decide where it ranks among his 10 seasons on the PGA Tour.
With six victories, two majors and all the top awards, some consider it his second-best year. Others favor his '99 season, when he won eight times - including four in a row - and one major.
He gave himself more chances on the back nine Sunday in the majors this year, a big plus.
Tiger Woods
After having a sub-par season last year, Tiger Woods enjoyed one of his finest seasons on tour in 2005.
Then again, twice he didn't even make it to the weekend.
``It's a toss-up,'' Woods said after his runner-up finish to Bart Bryant in the Tour Championship.
Considering the state of his game when he left East Lake a year ago, Woods didn't mind this kind of debate.
He used to talk about progress in his swing that only he could see, but hardly anyone believed.
Now he has the best kind of evidence - a green jacket from the Masters, a silver claret jug from the British Open, two more World Golf Championships, and PGA Tour victories at Doral and Torrey Pines against the strongest fields this side of a major.
Woods measures success almost exclusively by the majors, so there was no hesitation when he was asked for a quick assessment of the year shortly after his final putt dropped Sunday afternoon.
``A great season,'' he said. ``To make all the changes that we've made the past couple of years now, and to have this type of contention in the major championships again, that's ultimately where I want to be.''
Woods has said the reason he revamped his swing was to get even better than his record-setting 2000 season, when he was perceived as unbeatable. Along with winning nine times in 20 starts, including the final three majors, Woods only finished out of the top 10 three times.
He is not there yet.
Instead of rebuilding his mystique, Woods was a man of mystery this year.
He provided the most dramatic shot of the year on the 16th hole at the Masters, when his chip from behind the green did a U-turn at the top of the ridge, trickled to the cup and paused for two full seconds before falling for birdie.
It was vintage Woods, until he followed that with two sloppy bogeys to lose his two-shot lead and fall into a playoff with Chris DiMarco. Then came his best two swings of the week - maybe the year - to birdie the last hole.
``This year, I think the biggest moment for me was the playoff at Augusta, because I had just played three bad holes in a row, but then I hit my two best golf shots when I absolutely needed it the most,'' Woods said. ``So that was a huge turning point for me this year.''
His power was on display all year.
Woods averaged 316.1 yards off the tee, up from 301.9 yards last year. But for every tee shot that reached the green on par 4s (Doral, Harding Park), others wound up next to ice machines, under cars or in the trees.
This was a shift in philosophy to get back the length advantage he once enjoyed. Woods went to a longer, graphite shaft and a larger club head and swung harder than ever, and it helped more than it hurt.
``Do I drive it in the rough? Yes, that happens,'' said Woods, who ranked 188th on tour in driving accuracy at 54.6 percent, a career-low. ``But how many times do I drive it out of play? When you drive it that far, that's a huge advantage. And that's kind of the nature of the game now.''
The two biggest surprises were the Byron Nelson Championship and the Funai Classic at Disney. After going seven years without missing a cut, Woods twice had the weekend off.
``I was close at a bunch of tournaments,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, I had a couple of MCs this year, which is not normal.''
Woods brought a little of everything this year, from two majors to two missed cuts.
Expectations are unchanged.
He opened the Tour Championship with five birdies on his first eight holes, struggled in the rough on the back nine and shot a 4-under 66, four shots behind Bryant and his course-record 62.
The second question after his round: What's happening with your swing?
``I just don't get it,'' Haney said as he walked with the masses following Woods in the third round at East Lake. ``After the year he's had, and shooting a 66, and all he hears is, 'Why are you struggling?'''
Woods has had stretches of sheer brilliance, winning seven out of 11 majors from 1999 to 2002. He twice in his career has gone 2 1/2 years without winning a major.
This year, no one was sure which Tiger was going to show up.
That much was clear at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Woods opened with a 65 without any effort. He never broke 70 the rest of the week and tied for 40th, a sign that his game can desert him quickly.
``Hank and I have probably been working on three or four things that we need to try and fix for the fall and next season,'' Woods said. ``So I'm trying to work on them now.''
All that matters to Woods is his play in the majors.
The Masters was hard work. The British Open was never in doubt. He came within three shots of the other two majors, finishing one shot behind Michael Campbell in the U.S. Open, and two behind Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship.
His year won't end until this four-week stretch - China (HSBC Champions), Japan (Dunlop Phoenix), Hawaii (PGA Grand Slam), the California desert (Skins Game) and his Target World Challenge in southern California.
But when he takes time to reflect on his season, chances are he'll come to the same conclusion.
``If I can win more events than anyone, and more majors than anyone,'' he said, ``it's going to be a great year.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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

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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