Vignettes From a Long Year on Tour

By Associated PressJanuary 2, 2003, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods' mother spotted a reporter at the season-opening Mercedes Championships and asked how her son would fare in 2002. The prediction was for another strong year, maybe six victories, but no majors.
He was wrong. Woods had two majors among his six worldwide victories.
A week later, David Toms' group was backed up on the 18th hole at the Sony Open when he motioned to the baby-faced rookie on the tee.
``See this kid? Watch him this year. He's going to be good.''
He was right. That kid was Jonathan Byrd, who beat Toms by one stroke nine months later at the Buick Challenge.
Predictions can be a risky business.
Woods continues to dominate golf, but the game still has its share of surprises.
A three-page letter from Hootie Johnson generated more stories about Augusta National than Woods winning his third green jacket. The only victory party David Duval attended was at the Ryder Cup ' and he was on the losing team.
As 2002 ends, here is a look back at some of the moments beyond birdies and bogeys, winners and losers, green jackets and claret jugs:
During one of the commercial breaks at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, a video showed highlights of the year in golf ' Sergio Garcia's winning putt at Kapalua, Rich Beem twirling the flagstick on the 18th green after winning the PGA Championship.
Suddenly, the audience was buzzing.
On the big screen was Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson slipping the green jacket on Woods after he won the Masters.
While online surveys indicate a majority of golf fans support Augusta National in the debate over its all-male membership, there is little question the issue has changed the way people see Johnson.
Even though the ``Battle at Bighorn'' was a team exhibition, it was clear Woods wanted to avenge his loss to Garcia in the match play competition two years ago. Woods came out firing with three straight birdies in desert heat that soared into the 100s.
It was so hot that Melissa Stark of ABC Sports had one person hold an umbrella to shield her from the sun, another person to daub the perspiration from her forehead.
Walking to the fourth tee, a reporter said to Woods, ``I bet you wish you were me.''
``Why's that?'' Woods said, sweat already soaking his shirt.
``Because I can walk off the course after nine holes,'' the reporter replied.
``What do you think I'm trying to do?'' he said.
The NFL season was two months old, and Phil Mickelson had his game face on.
The Baltimore Ravens were favored over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Lefty figured it was a lock. The Steelers won two out of three last year, including a 27-10 rout in the playoffs. Plus, middle linebacker Ray Lewis was still injured.
``The Ravens aren't half the team they were last year, and they're 2 1/2 -point favorites. Are you kidding?'' Mickelson said.
Hmmm. It's a safe bet his money was on Pittsburgh.
``No, you don't understand,'' Mickelson said with a sneaky grin. ``I'm trying to help you.''
Pittsburgh led 28-3 at halftime and cruised to a 31-18 victory.
Duval is among several players who don't sign golf balls, but it was hard to turn down the man and his son at relaxing Callaway Gardens ' especially after the man said he went to Georgia Tech, Duval's alma mater.
Duval relented and asked for the ball.
It was a Titleist. Duval has bitter feelings toward Titleist, having gone to mediation to settle lawsuits and countersuits over him leaving Titleist for Nike.
He paused, then started to give it back.
Instead, Duval used his black marker to scratch out the logo, signed his name and tossed the ball back to the man, laughing as he resumed hitting balls.
Not many players grind on their games during the silly season, but that doesn't stop Vijay Singh. After the second round of the Target World Challenge, he brought a metal contraption out to the putting green.
It looked like a raccoon trap, the chute just wide enough for the blade of his putter. He stroked one putt after another through the gate, then stopped when he saw a visitor.
``Look at this,'' Singh said. ``You're looking at the No. 1-ranked putter on the PGA Tour next year. Come see me at this tournament next year, OK?''
He kept putting into the twilight.
The year was particularly taxing on the PGA Tour, which tried to cut costs and plug sponsorship holes in a weak economy. Both missions were accomplished by December.
Commissioner Tim Finchem called his staff together and told them to start making their holiday plans. For the first time, the PGA Tour closed its offices the week of Christmas.
``It was an incredible morale boost,'' one employee said.
And a fitting end to the year.
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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.