Walker Cup to test changes at venerable Merion

By Associated PressApril 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
USGAARDMORE, Pa. ' The history of golf and future of the game will collide again at Merion Golf Club.
The venerable East Course that tested Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus will challenge the modern golfer when it hosts the Walker Cup Match in September, a sort of dress rehearsal for hosting the 2013 U.S. Open.
Merion showed its mettle only a few years ago. Its narrow fairways, deep rough and sculpted greens held up against some of the countrys top nonprofessionals during the 2005 U.S. Amateur. Not long after, the United States Golf Association awarded Merion its fifth Open, but its first since 1981, igniting a debate as to whether the Hugh Wilson design on Philadelphias Main Line is a worthy test for todays long hitters.
U.S. Walker Cup captain and Merion member Buddy Marucci is convinced changes to the course, including adding about 300 yards, makes the storied layout a legitimate test for all golfers, including the best amateur players from the United States battling those from Great Britain and Ireland.
Part of the genius of what has been done here is that the difficult holes were made more difficult, and the easier, shorter holes pretty much stayed the same, Marucci said at a Walker Cup press event on Tuesday. I think what has happened is the architecture that was there for 100 years just popped out even more, and the challenges are back to where they were.
At some places, 300 and some yards might not be significant, but it has made a tremendous difference here, just by allowing that architecture to come back out.
Marucci captained the U.S. team to a dramatic 12 1/2-11 1/2 victory over GB&I in 2007 in Ireland. That victory extended the Americans record in the biennial competition to 33-7-1, though the teams have split the past 10 competitions. Scotlands Colin Dalgleish will captain the GB&I squad.
A two-time Walker Cup player with a 3-0 mark in alternate shot matches and a 1-1-1 singles record, Marucci is eager for some of the worlds finest amateurs to take on Merion, the site of 16 USGA championships or international team events which will play to 6,846 yards and a par 70.
The Walker Cups fourball and singles matches might not compare to the stroke play of the pros. But the players plan of attack in two days of morning fourball matches and afternoon singles on Sept. 11-12 should shed light on how the course will be attacked four years down the road.
Marucci is convinced Merion wont be muscled.
From a power standpoint, there will be some perspective given, said Marucci, who was runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur.
Marucci has spent nearly his entire life at Merion, growing up near the course and ultimately becoming one if its high-profile members. He knows what it takes to tame the layout and will share his knowledge with the U.S. team he puts together through the summer.
The one thing that I know you cant play Merion from the rough, he said. I wont be preaching a great deal to them, but will certainly educate them to the fact that, and they will learn pretty quickly, you cant be competitive from the rough at Merion.
Merion has a reputation of being a golf treasure.
Its where Jones played his first Amateur as a 14-year-old and returned 10 years later to claim his first U.S. Amateur title. He completed the Grand Slam by winning the 1930 Amateur to go along with the U.S. Open, British Open and British Amateur.
Theres a plaque commemorating Jones final hole in a competitive event on Merions 11th tee. It was on that hole he closed out Eugene Homans 8 and 7 in the 36-hole final.
Hogan left his mark, too.
Just over a year after surviving a horrible car crash, Hogan was on the 72nd hole of the 1950 U.S. Open in need of a par to force a playoff. In one of golfs most enduring photos, Hogan is pictured, from behind, hitting a 1-iron from the 18th fairway to a green circled by spectators. He went on to two-putt for par and won a three-way playoff the next day.
Before the start of a playoff for the 1971 Open, Lee Trevino pulled a prank on Nicklaus, tossing a rubber snake at his feet while on the first tee. Trevino went on to win.
Marucci is ready for more memories to be made at Merion.
To me, what makes it special is when you walk out onto the first tee, every shot requires thought and is challenging, Marucci said. The minute you step onto the first tee, you have to think about where youre going. And that doesnt necessarily mean you have to hit it far.
You have to hit a certain kind of shot, and if you dont hit that kind of shot, youre going to be penalized and if you do hit that shot, youre going to be rewarded.
Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm