Willis uses old putter to grab lead at the Heritage

By Associated PressApril 22, 2011, 4:23 am
The HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Garrett Willis returned to his old putter and reaped the rewards with a run of six straight birdies on the front nine en route to a 7-under 64 on Thursday that gave him the first-round lead in The Heritage.

He held a one-stroke edge over Arjun Atwal, Matt Bettencourt, Chad Campbell and Tim Herron and was two shots in front of Mark Wilson, Camilo Villegas and 2009 Heritage winner Brian Gay.

Luke Donald, No. 3 in the world, led a group at 67 in a round slowed by a rain delay of 2 hours, 16 minutes. Because of the delay, 18 players were unable to finish before dark.

Garrett Willis tees off on the first tee during the first round of The Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Thursday, April 21, 2011. Willis finished at 7-under-par for the day.

Donald could move to No. 1 with a win.

Willis entered The Heritage seeking answers to his poor putting. He brought four putters with him, had three more made at Harbour Town and had his father ship in three more.

Willis was ready to go with a belly putter he used in Tuesday’s practice round and in warmups before his starting time. Suddenly, Willis’ resolve disappeared and “Old Faithful” was back.

Willis’ choice looked a bad one when he missed a simple 12-footer for birdie on the first hole. His game – and attitude – changed for good on the next hole when he made an 8-foot birdie putt to start his run. “I said, ‘Wow, maybe I can make a putt,”’ Willis recalled.

Willis one-putted the next five holes, all for birdies, to move in front. Willis’ approach shots didn’t hurt, either – all his birdie putts were inside 15-feet. When bogeys on the ninth and 11th holes dropped him back, Willis returned the top thanks to his putter with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes, the last a tricky 15-footer.

“I made putts today that I normally don’t make,” he said.

“Very excited about putting this well, and having a chance to making the cut for a change.”

Donald, who won the Match Play Championship in February, is the highest ranked player in the field. He did little to hurt his chance for No. 1, rallying from a sluggish start with three birdies over his final six holes.

“A lot of people are telling me about” number one, Donald said. “So it’s hard to put out of your brain. But that would be awesome.”

Defending champion Jim Furyk and reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, fifth in the world, were in a pack at 68.

Ernie Els, 15th in the rankings, had a difficult start on a course he traditionally plays well with seven top 10s in 11 appearances. Els switched to a belly putter for the first round and struggled to a 75. Els also incurred a two-stroke penalty on his penultimate hole, the eighth, for testing the playing surface by raking a bunker of his footprints before his shot.

All but one of the eight top finishers teed off in the afternoon when the storm blew through Harbour Town and delayed the round. Bill Haas looked like he might chase down Willis with a tap-in birdie on No. 5 once play resumed to move a shot off the lead. But Haas followed with two bogeys and a triple bogey to fall back.

In all, seven of the world’s top 20 players teed off in what could be the final Heritage. The tournament, a PGA Tour fixture since 1969, is searching for a title sponsor, something both the tour and event organizers called essential for keeping the springtime tradition on the golf schedule.

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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.