Drama and Theatrics headline the 2011 ANNIKA Invitational

By Bailey MosierMarch 2, 2011, 8:31 pm
REUNION, Fla. – Throw 72 girls age 12 to 18 into a confined area and competitive arena, and it’s recipe for drama.

There was no exception at this year’s Annika Invitational.

What was the exception was the kind of theater that unfolded over three days at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla. While drama is mostly overplayed and underappreciated, the production at the Annika Invitational was something worth celebrating.

2011 marked the third year of the Annika Invitational, and the champions from the first two runs of the tournament – Simin Feng and Victoria Tanco – both returned, finishing T-61 and T-14, respectively.

Céline Boutier of Montrouge, France, held on to her second-round lead to capture her first victory on American soil, firing a three-day total of 3 under.

Kendall Prince, 17, of Lake Oswego, Ore., was lucky to make an appearance. Not because her game is lacking – she finished in solo fifth – but because a health condition questioned whether she would ever play golf again.

Prince spent the entire month of September 2010 in bed, recovering from liver problems. Her condition weakened her strength and her outlook of continuing to play the game she loves. Fortunately, she recovered and says she is well again and apparently well on her way to a successful 2011 in golf.

Jaye Marie Green from Boca Raton, Fla., a verbal commit to the University of Florida, finished T-10 after shooting 4 over across three days. Green nearly gave up on the game last summer, but had a renewed passion for golf after she won the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic in November then followed it with a win at the Sally in January.

The field’s youth was highlighted by two 12-year-olds: Hannah O’Sullivan of Cupertino, Calif. and Allisen Corpuz of Honolulu. O’Sullivan won the Stockton Sports Commission Junior Open in August, which was the first AJGA event in which she played. In her first season with the AJGA, Corpuz played in six events, and finished in the top-5 four times, including a win at the AJGA Junior at Quad Cities. She also advanced to the Round of 16 at Polo. Corpuz finished T-26 at the Annika Invitational and O’Sullivan finished 65th.

Seven of the top 10 girls in the Polo Golf Rankings teed it up. Forty players in the field have won an AJGA event.

The Annika Invitational served as Sorenstam’s first appearance as the AJGA National Chair. Sorenstam not only has her name on the event, she is intricately woven into the tournament’s very workings. Her efforts do not go unnoticed.

“It’s one of the best events in [girls junior] golf. It’s one thing to put your name on it, but to be out here is something extra. Now we see why it’s so great. To be here and be involved is pretty special,” Auburn's women’s assistant coach Ryan Cabbage said.

Cabbage wasn’t the only coach on-site, scouting the up-and-coming talent. Twenty college coaches as far west as Texas and north as Massachusetts gathered to watch the walks of the game’s future stars. The coaches, while restricted by the NCAA to reveal which players they were scouting, had no reservations to speak to the caliber of the event.

“[The Annika Invitational] is one of the most elite fields in junior girl’s golf. They really do a good job of bringing in international players as well, which has a lot to do with Annika [Sorenstam’s] influence,” head coach of the Florida women’s team Jan Dowling said.

In its inaugural year in 2009, the event was voted “Newcomer of the Year.” It is an invitation-only event featuring top junior players from around the world. The Annika Invitational will officially be an AJGA mainstay through 2014 and it’s not difficult to see why – it brings the game’s leading ladies together to make waves on the big stage.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.