Its a Prime Time For Champions

By David Marr IiiNovember 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 UBS CupYouth is no longer wasted on the young.
 
In three brief years the UBS Cup has become a celebration set in an international team competition. It is a festival of personalities and golf skills that have withstood lifes maddening balance. Mind and body, that fragile mix vital to any champion, are at odds in the natural process of aging. As a golfer matures the mental aspects of his game improve while his physical skills diminish. Understanding different shots and situations, learning to control emotions and pressure help mold a champion, yet these experiences are accumulated while strength, flexibility and reflexes ebb.
 
An exception to this rule is Jack Nicklaus whose preternatural strength of mind led to his 1962 U.S. Open victory as a 22 year old. His first PGA Tour win was a major championship, as was his last, the 1986 Masters, where Nicklaus willed his body to recapture its youth for nine holes closing in 30 for a one stroke victory.
 
Since that magical week at Augusta professional golfers have increasingly used advancements in nutrition and exercise to help stave off the aging cycle, keeping themselves in much better shape throughout their careers. Those wise minds are finding much more receptive physiques, and the result is better golf being played throughout golfers 40s, 50s and even approaching their 60s. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on the Champions Tour, where the celebration evident at the UBS Cup is on display weekly in a stroke play format. The golfers on each team have made their mark on the tour, or are waiting for their chance to do so.
 
On the U.S. team, captain Arnold Palmer is still the charismatic soul of the tour, and he constantly sees remarkable competition among his Champions Tour peers. Hale Irwin secured his second Charles Schwab Cup this year earning the most points in a season long competition. The 59-year-old proved that aside from a few aches and pains, he hasnt slowed a step in a decade on the Champions Tour. The runner-up in that competition was Craig Stadler. Stadler is still eligible to play on the PGA Tour next year by virtue of his win at the 2003 B.C. Open. The only other man to win on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour in the same season was Raymond Floyd in 1992. He and Jay Haas are the only players to compete in the Ryder Cup past their 50th birthdays.
 
The youngsters on the U.S. team have shown remarkable competitive longevity while awaiting their opportunity on the Champions Tour. Gallery favorite Fred Couples won at the 2003 Shell Houston Open then had a stretch of three top ten finishes in four events this season. Scott Hoch also won in 2003, capturing the Ford Championship at Doral. Curtis Strange and Hal Sutton have devoted extensive portions of their careers recently to captaining the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2002 and 2004 respectively, but each man has shown excellent form as well.
 
The Rest of the World team has also seen spirited play of late as well as considerable Champions Tour success. Captain Gary Players victory at the 2000 Senior Skins game, marked his 6th consecutive decade with a win. On his team he finds perhaps the hottest golfer on the Champions Tour, Mark McNulty. The elegant Zimbabwean closed out his rookie year with three wins including the final two events of the year. Sam Torrance, the lovable Scottish rascal, thrilled American galleries in 2004 but found the time away from his wife and children unbearable and headed back to Great Britain after some impressive Champions Tour appearances. Carl Masons limited Champions Tour exposure included a playoff loss to Tom Watson at the 2003 Senior British Open. Mason has been the leading money winner in each of his two years on the European counterpart to the Champions Tour.
 
Captain Player also has stellar international team match players at his disposal who have not yet reached their 50th birthday. Starting with Colin Montgomerie, certainly one of the greatest Ryder Cup players in history he was the backbone of victorious teams in 2002 and 2004. Bernhard Langer was not only a great Ryder Cup player but captained the team to its widest margin of victory ever and won two Masters as well. Another Masters champion with an impeccable Ryder Cup record who must be relishing another chance at the American team is Welshman Ian Woosnam, destined to follow Torrance and Langer as a Ryder Cup captain one day.
 
Present and future Champions Tour players meet at Kiawah Island, site of the 1991 Ryder Cup to once again compete for national pride with personalities that are familiar to all golf fans. Though a few years removed from their glory days on the PGA and European Tours, attention to nutrition and exercise ensures that they arent very far removed from their competitive primes at all.
 
Related Links:
  • Meet the Teams
  • Full Coverage - UBS Cup
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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