Watneys amazing ride leads to the top

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2009, 6:52 pm

SHANGHAI (AP)—So much for that notion that American golfers don’t travel well.

The first World Golf Championship in Asia opened Thursday to a leaderboardfilled with Stars & Stripes, led by wide-eyed Nick Watney and his 8-under 64that tied the course record at the HSBC Champions and including, as always,Tiger Woods .

Watney got more excitement than he expected when he went to Shanghai’smetropolis in a cab that weaved through six lanes of cars on a three-lanehighway. He felt far more safe at Sheshan International Golf Club, where he keptit down the middle and close to the flag. Watney made an accidental eagle andran off four straight birdies while building a two-shot lead.

Tiger Woods of the United Stat…
AP - Nov 5, 6:20 am EST

“It was just one of those days where everything was feeling really good, soI wasn’t too jumpy,” Watney said.

Ryan Moore wasn’t about to pass up a trip to China when he qualified bywinning his first PGA Tour event in August. With a new equipment deal in place,he shot a 6-under 66 to join Shane Lowry of Ireland and Martin Kaymer ofGermany, who is second in the Race to Dubai and facing a big week at this $7million event.

Woods was the star attraction again, although it is was demanding as ever.

Standing composed over his opening tee shot, he flinched all the way throughhis swing and let the 3-wood drop at impact upon hearing the shutter of so manycameras, inside and outside the ropes.

“The guy in the grandstand basically did almost a photo sequence,” Woodssaid. The shot was so short, buried in deep rough right of the fairway, thatcaddie Steve Williams had to walk 40 yards to find the yardage on a sprinkler.

It was a frenzy for the opening hour, with marshals barking at the gallerynot to take pictures, and Thongchai Jaidee ’s caddie having to walk up to agrassy hill and escort one photographer to the side of the ropes so his playercould hit the shot.

Ultra sensitive when it comes to cameras, Woods handled this day better thanmost and chalked it up to a maturing golf crowd in China. More frustrating wasnot knowing where his ball was going throughout a gorgeous afternoon. Still,Woods took care of the par 5s and made enough putts to get around in 67.

“It wasn’t my best ball-striking round today for sure, but I made someputts, which was nice, and just managed my game well,” he said.

Woods was joined by Anthony Kim , who spent most of Tuesday in Hong Kongtrying to get his visa situation sorted out, Paul Casey and Lin Wen-tang ofTaiwan, giving some local flavor to Asia’s biggest tournament.

Casey had reason to be thrilled with his start, no matter how many shots hefeels as though he squandered. It was the first time he kept score over 18 holessince Sunday at Turnberry in the British Open. He had missed three months with arib injury, returning last week in the World Match Play Championship.

“I don’t quite have the power there yet,” Casey said. “But there is a wayto get around the golf course without having that power, and I’m doing it quitewell right now.”

Matt Kuchar and Pat Perez were among those at 68, while Phil Mickelson ,Jason Dufner and Brian Gay checked in at 69. Of the top 20 on the leaderboardthrough the opening round, nine were Americans.

There were concerns that Americans would stay away from this World GolfChampionship, being halfway around the world at the end of a busy year and notcounting as an official event on the PGA Tour.

Even so, 13 of them made the trip and all but two broke par. Jerry Kelly wassmiling at the way he ground out a 71 while using new grooves in his irons toget ready for next year.

“Got my first shank out of the way,” Kelly said with a laugh.

On the first of two trips to China this month, Watney made an immediateimpression.

He birdied his first two holes from inside 10 feet, then hit a hybrid wherehe wasn’t aiming on the par-5 14th. He was playing away from the flag—and thewater guarding the right side—pushed it slightly and was relieved to see itsettle 30 feet behind the hole. He made the putt for eagle and turned in 31,then fired off four straight birdies.

“The greens are so good that if you hit a putt on line, it’s definitelygoing to go in,” Watney said. “So I was putting very well. Just tried to givemyself as many chances as possible, and I was able to make a few.”

Watney also had a chance to win a WGC event at Doral, finishing second byone shot to Mickelson.

The 28-year-old American is making his first trip to Asia, though not hislast. Watney decided a few months ago to play the World Cup the week ofThanksgiving at Mission Hills near Hong Kong. He wanted to stick around for afew weeks in between, but decided instead to return home to Las Vegas to rest.

Watney, who won at Torrey Pines earlier in the year, is not overly excitedabout leading after one day, nor was he the least bit concerned when a Chinesereporter mentioned that Woods was moving up the leaderboard.

“If it was Saturday night, I don’t know how well I’d be sleeping,” Watneysaid with a grin. “But just for Friday, I’m in a great position. At the sametime, there’s a really long way to go. It’s always good to beat Tiger, andhopefully I can keep a little cushion between us.”

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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