Westwood routs Hansen advances at World Match Play

By Associated PressMay 19, 2011, 6:08 pm

European TourCASARES, Spain – Lee Westwood produced a blitz of birdies to thrash Anders Hansen on the opening day of the World Match Play Championship and send a message to the two men trying to supplant him as world No. 1.

Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, who both could leap to the top of the rankings by winning the tournament on the Costa del Sol, also eased to opening-round victories at the Finca Cortesin course on Thursday but Westwood’s 6-and-5 rout of Hansen in Group A stood out on a day of few surprises.

Westwood started with a bogey on the par-4 first but found his range with the putter to make six birdies between the fourth and 11th holes, overwhelming his Danish opponent.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy won his Day 1 match, 1 up, over Retief Goosen. (Getty Images)
“If you get on a winning run where you’re in contention a lot and finishing it off, that works wonders for your confidence and you start getting in that habit. But I’ve seen enough ups and downs in golf to know that you don’t take good play for granted. You have to work constantly at it.”

Westwood didn’t compete in last week’s Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass, branded by some as the fifth major, to maintain his freshness for not only the World Match Play but also subsequent tournaments this summer.

Considering the start he has made, that looks to be a wise decision, although there are tougher tests ahead in southern Spain this week as he looks to win the tournament for the second time. His first came in 2000.

“I feel fresh, feel good coming into this week, which is tough and demanding,” said Westwood, who credits his newfound stamina and strength to a strict fitness regime he began four years ago. “I had such a busy time in the first part of the year, I was going to need a break at some stage to just sit down and do nothing, and recharge.”

Westwood plays Australia’s Aaron Baddeley on Friday in his second group match.

Donald, who beat Kaymer to win the Accenture World Match Play in Arizona in February, again showed his pedigree in the one-on-one format by cruising past Ryan Moore, 4 and 3, in Group B.

Birdies at the third, fourth and seventh holes put the second-ranked Donald 3 up, and two more at No. 14 and No. 15 saw off the challenge of the only American player in the 24-man field.

“I haven’t had too many disappointments in match play. I enjoy the format and I’ve been very successful in it,” said Donald, who has finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 14 events. “I continued the form I’ve been playing the last few months. I’d put it in the solid category.”

Donald needs to win the tournament and hope Westwood doesn’t make the final if he is to climb to No. 1 for the first time. Kaymer, meanwhile, requires Westwood to be eliminated before the semifinals to return to the top of the rankings.

The third-ranked German was 2 down to Y.E. Yang by the 11th but won the next four holes to complete a 2-and-1 win on the 17th.

Only two players lost to lower-ranked opponents on a day of few genuine shocks at the hilly, par-72 course.

Ninth-ranked Paul Casey lost, 3 and 1, to Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, the world No. 26, in a battle of the big hitters and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was thrashed, 6 and 5, by Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Schwartzel is trying to emulate his fellow South Africans Gary Player and Ernie Els, who won the tournament 12 times between them. But he bogeyed the opening two holes and failed to match the consistency of Jimenez, who was born in nearby Malaga but is playing this course for the first time.

Jimenez didn’t drop a shot for the entire round.

“I just kept playing solid – pars, pars, birdies, pars. That’s the game today,” said Jimenez, who went 3 up after five holes and never looked back.

Schwartzel must avoid defeat in his second Group G match – against Johan Edfors on Friday – to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages this weekend.

Under the tournament’s new format, two players from each of the eight three-man groups go through to the last 16.

Elsewhere, No. 5-ranked Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion, defeated British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 3 and 1, and fellow Northern Irish player Rory McIlroy also won, beating Retief Goosen by 1 hole.

Ross Fisher, who defeated Anthony Kim in the 2009 final, starts the defense of his title on Friday.


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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