Tigers late push takes him to share of HSBC lead

By Associated PressNovember 6, 2009, 6:10 pm

SHANGHAI (AP)—The gallery kept growing until it stretched along all 603 yardsof the eighth hole at Sheshan International. It took a little longer beforeTiger Woods gave them what they came to see Friday in the HSBC Champions.

Losing patience with each missed putt, Woods finally knocked in a 10-footbirdie on the ninth hole and was on his way.

With five birdies over the final 10 holes, he pieced together another5-under 67 and surged into a share of the 36-hole lead with Nick Watney in aWorld Golf Championship that had a distinctive American flavor. Seven of the topnine players on the leaderboard are from the United States.

Far more tantalizing going into the weekend was Woods and Phil Mickelson ,who ended their PGA Tour season with a compelling battle in Atlanta, going at itagain halfway around the world in China.

Tiger Woods of the United Stat…
AP - Nov 6, 4:38 am EST

Woods missed six birdie chances inside 20 feet and was growing increasinglyagitated until one putt on the ninth changed his outlook.

“It certainly was a little bit frustrating, but the guys weren’t runningoff and hiding, either,” Woods said. “I knew if I could just play the backnine at 3-under par … I figured that would probably be a pretty good number.And I did a couple better than that.”

Mickelson chipped in for birdie on the 15th, then recovered from a poor teeshot with an unlikely birdie on the 16th. After trying to play short off the teeon the 288-yard hole and hitting hybrid into a bunker, Mickelson faced anawkward distance and a slightly plugged lie in the sand. He blasted a pitchingwedge to 12 feet and made another birdie.

“One of the best shots I hit all day,” Mickelson said, and one finalbirdie on the par-5 18th gave him a 66.

Behind him was Woods, hard to miss with the size of his gallery and theaccompanying cheers. He came up short with his wedge and chipped in for birdie,then reached the green in two on the 538-yard closing hole framed by water for atwo-putt birdie.

That put him in the lead at 10-under 134 with Watney, who birdied his lasttwo holes for a 70.

Even in a World Golf Championship with players from 23 countries—the mostdiverse field for this series—Woods and Mickelson have been the attractions atthe biggest tournament in Asian golf.

Woods first came to China in 2001 for an exhibition and remains a favoriteof the star-struck crowd that calls him “Laohu,” which is Mandarin Chinese forTiger.

Mickelson won the HSBC Champions two years ago and has impressed the Chineseoff the course, too, by speaking of a responsibility to play in Asia to helpgrow the game and talking up the two golf courses projects he has in thecountry, including one in Kunming with a par-3 course that he hopes will attractchildren.

“This is my third year here, and I’ve seen a great increase in the numberof people that have come out to watch, as well as the excitement level,”Mickelson said. “Obviously, Tiger Woods coming here plays a big part in that.But he also came here three or four years ago, and this is at a whole differentlevel this year. It’s been neat to see.”

Woods has come twice to Sheshan International, and twice left as therunner-up. And despite leading going into the weekend, he realizes there is alot of work left.

Watney felt as though he missed every putt that he had made the day before,yet his closing birdies put him in a share of the lead. As he finished, theworld’s top two players were starting to make their moves.

“I knew from the start they were in the field, so it’s no surprise they’replaying well,” Watney said. “Whatever the lead is at, that’s not going to winthe golf tournament. I need to go out and keep playing well and keep makingbirdies to have any shot.”

Mickelson is part of a crowd at 9-under 135. He is joined by Alvaro Quiros ,the Spaniard reputed to be golf’s biggest hitter who shot a 66; and Ryan Moore ,who made an 8-foot eagle on the 18th and finished his round at No. 9 by chippingin for birdie.

“If I have to be honest, I don’t see my name for a long time on theleaderboard—all were Americans,” Quiros said. “It was strange. Of course, itis exciting for me.”

Another shot behind is Anthony Kim , who saved his aggressiveness for the18th hole by hitting a 5-wood to 4 feet for eagle. Pat Perez had a chance topost the only bogey-free round of the tournament until he missed an 8-foot parputt on his final hole for a 69, leaving him three shots off the lead.

Perez has been around long enough to understand that Woods commands thelargest gallery, but he didn’t realize what kind of magnet the world’s No. 1player was in China until he looked around and saw two spectators. He didn’t saywhether that included his wife.

“It made me realize I’m actually a nobody,” Perez said. “I thought I wassomebody, but this confirms it. In worldwide golf, I’m a nobody.”

He has a chance to make a name for himself this weekend, as do others.

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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