Tiger opens with a 66 in Australia

By Associated PressNovember 12, 2009, 2:52 am

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Tiger Woods lived up to eight months of anticipationin Australia on Thursday by running off three straight birdies late in his roundof a 6-under 66 that put him atop the leaderboard in the Australian Masters.

Playing for the first time Down Under in 11 years, before an enormousgallery only seen at major championships, Woods putted for birdie on every holeuntil the last one. He pulled his drive into a tea tree, chopped out into therough and took two putts from 40 feet for his lone bogey.

Among early starters, Woods was tied with James Nitties of Australia, comingoff his rookie season on the PGA Tour, and Branden Grace of South Africa.

Woods missed only two fairways in a round that was relatively free ofstress. He hit driver off the tee five times and except for the final hole, keptit in play and away from the trouble. Woods chose to lay back from the bunkerson several of the short par 4s at Kingston Heath, and a couple of times hit poorshots or played purposely away from the flags.

“You play for what it’s giving you,” Woods said. “I didn’t have to changemy game plan on any hole.”

He made his move toward the end of the round, hitting 3-wood to the 294-yardsixth hole that held its line to the left of the bunkers and came up just shortof the green, leaving an easy chip to a foot. After a poor tee shot left him abad angle to the green on the seventh, Woods hit 8-iron over the corner of treesto 20 feet for another birdie, then hit 8-iron to 7 feet on No. 8 to set up histhird straight birdie.

Far more impressive than the golf, however, was the gallery.

Traffic was backed up along Kingston Road outside the club for miles in thehour before Woods tee off.

“I know,” he said. “I was stuck in it, too.”

The tournament has been a sellout for months, and it remains peculiar to seea ticket window at an Australian golf tournament with a sign that says “Soldout.” The cap was at 100,000 tickets for the week, and while it was impossiblefor 25,000 fans to stay on one hole, whoever couldn’t fit in moved ahead to thenext couple of holes.

That turned into a treat for the likes of Seve Benson , playing in the groupahead of Woods, feeling like a rock star himself.

“It was amazing,” Benson said after a 70. “After a couple of holes, youget used to it. But then you realize that they were not on the hole before. Theyhad been there for awhile waiting.”

It was a little different behind Woods, as marshals allowed the gallery tostop in the middle of crossing areas so that they fans entirely circled everygreen on which Woods, defending champion Rod Pampling and Craig Parry wereputting.

Parry holed a 50-foot putt on the fourth and shot 70, while Pampling had a71.

Nitties was among those in the group behind Woods, and he couldn’t believewhen his group was told they were behind the clock. He said tour officials weremore lenient when they realized the players had to wait for fans ahead of themto clear the crossing zones before they could tee off on par 4s.

“If we hit a good drive, we could hit the people,” Nitties said. “It wasdifficult at times, hitting at moving targets. But I thought it would be more ofa circus than it was.”

Among those in the gallery was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who usually onlytravels to Augusta National and Sherwood Country Club for her son’s tournamentin December.

Woods, coming off a tie for sixth in Shanghai last week, had few complaintsabout his round. He twice missed birdie putts inside 8 feet, and spent a largepart of his round lag putting.

“My iron game certainly wasn’t sharp,” he said. “I didn’t take on some ofthe pins. And others were just bad shots.”

Cameron Percy and Doug Holloway were at 67, while Greg Chalmers was in thegroup at 68.

Geoff Ogilvy , the only other player besides Woods in the top 50 at KingstonHeath, took double bogey on his final hole for a 72.

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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