Well well well look whos back near the top

By Associated PressApril 9, 2010, 4:16 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – PGA champion Y.E. Yang won't let himself think about winning back-to-back majors even though he is back atop the leaderboard again.

The winner of last year's final major is one stroke off the lead at the Masters after shooting a first-round 67 on Thursday. Yang and four others – including fellow South Korean K.J. Choi – trail 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples.

'I don't want to say that I'm surprised, but that's the best round that I've had here at Augusta National,' said Yang, who tied for 30th in 2007 and missed the cut last year. 'So I am very happy.'

Yang's victory at Hazeltine National last August was the biggest upset golf has seen in years. It was the first major title won by an Asian player. Yang hadn't started playing golf until he was 19, and only joined the PGA Tour in 2007. His lone other victory was the 2009 Honda Classic.

Oh, he also beat that guy named Tiger Woods to win.

Yang has only one top-10 finish in his eight previous starts this season, finishing third at the Phoenix Open. But he managed the wind right Thursday, making only one bogey.

But Yang has a long way to go before he can add a green jacket to his Wanamaker Trophy. No one has won back-to-back majors since Padraig Harrington, who won the British Open and the PGA Championship in 2008.

'Every tournament that I come into, I usually try to put myself in a position to at least go into the top 10 after the third round,' Yang said. 'It would be nice, yes, but no, I really don't have a conscious feeling of trying to win back-to-back majors.'



BACK TO THE ROARS: Tiger Woods couldn't figure out why he saw so many low scores on the board before he teed off. Then he looked at how the course was set up and it all made sense.

The pins were accessible on several holes, and the tee markers were moved up.

As a result, 44 players were at par or better, and 16 players shot in the 60s. Strangely, no one is talking about all the fun being taken out of Augusta National any more.

'It gets me back to thinking that's the way the course was originally designed to be played,' Tom Watson said.

Jerry Kelly says it could change. He suspects the club set up the course for scoring because of high winds expected ahead of the storms.

'It's set up to score today, there's not question about it,' Kelly said after his 72. 'I think that's as easy as you're going to see Augusta, which is not that easy. We're at Augusta, so there's nothing easy about an easy setup.'



IN FINE FORM: Trevor Immelman is feeling good again. Just check out his scorecard.

The 2008 Masters champion shot a 3-under 69 in the first round Thursday, only the second time he's broken 70 since having surgery on his left wrist last October.

'I felt like I was getting close, but still not close enough,' Immelman said. 'The practice rounds here, I started hitting some shots that felt real good, and it was nice to do the same today.'

Immelman, whose last victory was at Augusta National, missed most of last season with severe tendinitis in his left wrist. He tried to let the injury heal with rest, but eventually realized surgery was his best option. He couldn't touch a club for three months, and only started hitting balls again in February.

He returned to the tour at the Phoenix Open the last week of February, and has made four starts. His best finish is a tie for 59th at the Honda Classic, where he shot a 68 in the second round.



TOMS SHOULDER: David Toms needs surgery on his right shoulder to repair a rotator cuff, and he planned to wait until after the Masters. That would give him enough time to heal before the U.S. Open.

Now he plans to wait – and not just because he opened with a 69.

'I had an injection on Friday and it feels a little better, and I'm just going to keep playing through it as long as I can,' Toms said. 'I would hate to hang up my golf clubs at this point in the year when I'm exempt for all of the majors and a lot of tournaments I like to play in May and June. So for now, I'm going to put it off.'

Toms has average length off the tee, and the injury has cost him power he couldn't afford to lose. He's made some adjustments in his swing that he ordinarily wouldn't make. Still, the toughest part is getting comfortable when he sleeps.

He said the injury first occurred in October.

'I don't know any specific event other than I turned 43 in January,' he said. 'Maybe that has something to do with it.'



NICE SHOT: Anthony Kim had fans asking 'How'd he do that?' with his second shot on the par-5 No. 2.

The brash youngster's drive sailed so far left it landed on a thin layer of pine straw on the concrete cart path, a dismal lie by any measure. But instead of taking a drop, Kim made a perfect punch out and salvaged a par.

Kim had only one par on the back nine to go with four bogeys, an eagle and three straight birdies at the end of his wild round of 68.

'I got some good breaks and I capitalized on those, so I'm pretty happy with the way I finished,' Kim said. 'But I still have to work on the driver and get that ball in the fairway.'



DEAR OLD DAD: No need for Nathan Smith to call home and let his family know how he did at the Masters.

His dad was right there beside him.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur champion's father, Larry, was on the bag Thursday. It's the second time the two have been paired at Augusta National; Nathan played in 2004, also as the Mid-Am champion.

'He's really cheap,' joked Nathan Smith, a 31-year-old financial adviser in Pittsburgh. 'It was great. Having your dad caddie for you at the Masters doesn't get any better, and we're lucky to be able to do it twice. It was a great day no matter what.'

Nathan Smith got off to a strong start with birdies on two of his first three holes. But he bogeyed four straight holes on the back nine, and finished at 2-over 74.

'It's nerve-racking,' Larry Smith said of working for his son. 'To watch him out there giving it his best effort and it's going pretty rough at times, it's tough, it really is. ... You just try to keep even keel as much as you can, and hopefully don't build up too much so there's one big burst and you make a goof of yourself.'



DIVOTS: It wasn't a day of low scoring for everyone. Jim Furyk, coming off a victory three weeks ago, was among five players who failed to break 80. Furyk had three double bogeys and a triple bogey in shooting 44 on the back nine for an 80. Henrik Stenson also had an 80, while former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell shot 83. ... David Duval played his final five holes in 4 over to shoot 76. ... The wind and rain might have helped out the groundskeepers at Augusta National, clearing out the pollen that littered the course. Ian Poulter spent almost five minutes picking the yellow sprigs off the sixth green so he had a clear path to putt.

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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