Woods struggles while McDowell soars

By Associated PressJune 19, 2010, 2:20 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – On another frustrating day at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods fought with his swing as much as the greens. Graeme McDowell, on the other hand, had that all figured out and gave Woods a distant target to shoot at for the weekend.

McDowell made six birdies on the way to a 3-under 68 on Friday and enters the weekend at 3 under. That was two shots ahead of Dustin Johnson, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa and Ernie Els, who also shot 68 to position himself for a run at his third U.S. Open title.

“You’re always surprised to be under par at a U.S. Open golf course,” said McDowell, who has won five times on the European Tour, including a victory in Wales earlier this month.

Finishing the second round at even par was the quartet of Alex Cejka, who shot 72, Paul Casey (73), Brendon de Jonge (73) and Jerry Kelly (70).

Players returned to Pebble for a second round played under cloudy, cool and more benign conditions than on Thursday, when sunny skies and drying winds had Woods calling the greens “awful” after a birdie-less round of 74.

Opening on the back nine Friday, he chipped in on No. 11 for his first birdie of the tournament, but if things were looking up, it was only for a brief while. He bogeyed both the par-3s on the back, missed an 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 18, blocked a tee shot into a bunker on No. 2 and hooked one into the fescue on No. 3.

It added up to a 1-over 72 and a slide down the leaderboard – seven shots behind McDowell. Woods, of course, feels he’s still got a chance.

“I just need to keep progressing and keep moving my way up the board,” he said. “It’s a long haul. The U.S. Open is not going to get easier as the week goes on, especially on the weekend.”

Anything is possible with Woods, but clearly this is not the same player who won the last U.S. Open at Pebble, back in 2000, by a record 15 shots.

After opening the tournament by hitting 10 straight greens in regulation, Woods got wild. Since that start, he has gone 13 for 26, and though the greens were better during a morning round Friday than they were Thursday afternoon, he missed a series of makable putts, including the one on 18 and a 12-footer on 6 that slid by.

“I just need to make a few more birdies, a few more putts on the weekend, and I’ll be right there,” Woods said.

Els won the `B’ flight at the U.S. Open in 2000, tying for second, but didn’t finish any higher than fifth at the Open the rest of the decade. He’s playing some of his best golf in years in 2010, though, winning twice and now in serious contention at Pebble, which he said resembled “links golf on steroids.”

“It’s been such a long time since I won one of these, and we’ve got a long way to go,” Els said. “I needed a round like today to get back into the tournament, which is nice.”

Johnson is no stranger to hoisting trophies at Pebble Beach. The winner of the last two AT&T National Pro-Ams – the PGA Tour event played here every February – shot a 70 and was in contention despite a four-putt 7 on No. 14 in the opening round.

“Whenever you have success at a golf course you get a lot of confidence,” Johnson said. “So I’ve got a lot of confidence at this golf course, and it sets up very well for me.”

Same could be said for Tom Watson, the 1982 champion, who found himself waiting through the afternoon to see if he’s played what could possibly be his final U.S. Open round. The heartbreaking runner-up at last year’s British shot an even 71 to finish at 7-over 149. That’s within 10 shots of McDowell and would be good enough to make the cut if nobody in the afternoon goes lower.

But he knows Pebble as well as anyone, and he knows what he saw Friday.

“I suspect with the course playing the way it is today, it may be a little easy and some of the 1-under pars might surpass Graeme,” Watson said.

K.J. Choi, Mike Weir and Ian Poulter were among the “1 unders” playing in the afternoon, along with Phil Mickelson, who was trying to improve on a 75 in the first round.

Nobody has gone lower than Ishikawa, who shot a 58 two months ago in Japan – the lowest score ever on a major tour. While 99 percent of the U.S. Open players talk about patience, the 18-year-old who followed up his hot-pink wardrobe Thursday with a more muted red-and-white ensemble Friday, wasn’t taking that tact.

“I don’t know if it’s the right word, but my feeling is, go for it,” he said. “Challenging things means something to me, and especially in the outside-Japan tournaments, it doesn’t mean anything if I don’t challenge things.”

He’s got a ways to go, and Pebble Beach almost certainly won’t get any easier over the weekend. Still, better to be in his position, or McDowell’s, than playing from behind.

“You know, I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about picking up the trophy on Sunday afternoon. I think that’s only natural,” McDowell said. “But I’m trying to be very realistic about it, as well. I’m really trying to put no expectations on myself this weekend because, A, I know there’s a lot of great players out here, and B, this golf course is extremely difficult.”

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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