Woods to Meet Els More News and Notes
Els has been invited to take part in 'Battle at the Bridges,' a Monday night golf exhibition that previously was played at Bighorn. This year's made-for-television event will be played July 28 at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe.
The world's top two players would play with each other -- not against each other.
Three sources involved with the event, speaking on condition of anonymity, said discussions are under way with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia to be the other team in what probably would be a best-ball match.
An announcement could be made by the end of the month.
Ratings have tapered off since Garcia beat Woods at Bighorn three years ago, the only time Woods has lost the prime-time match since it began in 1999.
Organizers feel Woods has nothing to gain by playing a singles match, and the last two team matches involving the LPGA Tour (Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb) and seniors (Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino) were a little flat.
Getting Woods and Els together in prime time will help (they never did get to face off at the Match Play Championship, near San Diego). It would be equally important to involve Mickelson. He has been Woods' chief foil over the past two years and also happens to lives in the same neighborhood as The Bridges.
Another match that was briefly considered would have brought together the biggest stars from three sports -- Woods and Michael Jordan against Mike Weir and Wayne Gretzky. One of the three sources said that was dismissed because ABC Sports wanted to make sure the competition did not turn into a hit-and-giggle affair.
KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE: Three years ago when Tiger Woods played Darren Clarke at the Match Play Championship, swing coach Butch Harmon worked exclusively with Woods between rounds in the 36-hole final.
Clarke jokingly yelled to Harmon from the other end of the range, 'Hey, Butchy! I don't need you. I'm hitting it perfect.'
He went on to beat Woods, 4 and 3.
Harmon was on the range at La Costa again this year before the semifinal between Woods and Adam Scott. This time, he worked exclusively with Scott as Woods hit balls about 20 yards away.
The only time Harmon spoke to Woods was to exchange a few laughs. Woods won the match in 19 holes.
Woods said last August that he wanted some space, but he still works with Harmon. He saw him twice in Las Vegas during his two-month break for knee surgery, including one trip right before Woods returned to the PGA Tour.
'I saw my trainer there in Vegas, as well as hit a few balls,' Woods said. 'Butch took a look at my swing. And there really wasn't a whole lot to say. I was hitting it pretty good. I just needed to play.'
DRIVER TEST: Golf's two rules makers have proposed an updated, portable test that would make sure the trampoline effect in drivers is conforming. If approved, the test would be effective at the start of next year.
Unlike the current test, which must be administered at the USGA Research and Test Center and requires the club to be taken apart, the portable test will require only a low speed strike to the clubface by a small weight on a pendulum.
'We are optimistic about the advantages of this new measuring technique,' USGA senior technical adviser Dick Rugge said. 'It is both portable and accurate.'
USGA executive director David Fay said there were no plans to use the portable test at any of its championships.
What remains to be seen is whether it will be used at PGA Tour events.
Some players quietly question whether drivers that meet USGA standards are the same ones used in competition.
'They send one club in to get it tested, then come out with another club with a little more pop,' David Toms said. 'They're all pushing the envelope.'
He recommends an on-site test every week, noting that a NASCAR victory isn't official until the car passes an inspection.
FORMER TEAMMATE: Two former teammates at Stanford won tournaments over the weekend -- Tiger Woods at the Match Play Championship, and Mhairi McKay of Scotland at the Australian Open, her first victory in six years as a professional.
McKay was on the women's team both years Woods played for the Cardinal. She says she never played with him but often hit balls next to Woods on the practice range.
'He was just incredible,' McKay said. 'He used to have people coming to watch him practice on the college driving range. It's a great thrill for me to say I was at Stanford with him. I knew him when I was there, but I haven't really seen him since.'
NO NELSON: When Tiger Woods decided not to play in the Dubai Desert Classic, he said he also would skip Doral on the PGA Tour out of respect to Dubai tournament officials.
The same thing could happen in May.
Woods is supposed to play in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany, a tournament he has won three times. It will be played opposite the Byron Nelson Classic, which Woods has played every season since turning pro.
Even if Woods does not go to Germany over travel concerns, he said he probably would not play in the Nelson Classic.
DIVOTS: The Players Championship has always had the richest purse in golf, although it now is equal to the World Golf Championships at $6 million. That figures to change. The PGA Tour policy board met Tuesday, and a purse increase to $6.5 million is likely. ... Players' respect for David Toms continues to grow. He was elected chairman of the Players Advisory Council, which means he will be on the PGA Tour Policy Board next year when Tom Pernice's term expires. ... Annika Sorenstam is featured on the March 14 cover of Scholastic News 4, an educational magazine for students and teachers.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Padraig Harrington is the only player ranked in the top 10 who has never been runner-up to Tiger Woods.
FINAL WORD: 'How do you think I feel?' -- Sergio Garcia, after losing five straight holes and his first-round match to Kevin Sutherland.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18