Casey realistic about Race to Dubai chances

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2009, 4:13 am

HSBC ChampionshipSHANGHAI – Mathematically, Paul Casey is very much in the hunt for the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, at No. 5 in the standings with the top five players separated by about $350,000.

Realistically? That’s a different story.

Right when he was reaching the peak of his game, with three victories this year that took him to No. 3 in the world ranking, Casey sustained a rib injury that kept him out for three months. He returned last week in the World Match Play Championship, losing all three of his matches.

Asked if he had given up hope on the $1.5 million bonus, Casey smiled Tuesday and said, “No.”

“But I need to win an event,” he added. “And when you’re up against this quality of field and you’re not 100 percent, it’s difficult.”

Even so, he wasn’t complaining.

Casey felt good to simply get back into competition after not having played a full round since the British Open at Turnberry. He had been gone so long that when he arrived in Spain for the Match Play, he forgot to register.

He tore a muscle near his 10th rib on the right side, which required rest – lots of rest. Casey missed a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship, and the entire FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour.

“I went six or seven weeks when I didn’t pick up a club at all,” Casey said. “But I regained my love of the game. I’m not qualified to do anything else. In a way, I relearned how to play. The week before Match Play, I was enjoying going to the golf course every day. Without injury, I should do it again.”

Casey described his health at about 70 percent. Even now, he comes out of a few shots, and he has yet to hit a shot from the rough since his return, mainly because the Finca Cortesin course in Spain had none.

“I’m setting smaller goals,” he said, noting that the Race to Dubai was part of a bigger picture.

After the HSBC Champions, Casey is headed for the Hong Kong Open, then the Dubai World Championship. He also plays to play the Chevron World Challenge in California, hosted by Tiger Woods, a chance to try new equipment – and grooves – for next year.

Next year will arrive sooner than usual. His victory in the Houston Open made him eligible for the winners-only SBS Championship at Kapalua. Casey wasn’t sure he would be able to play until realizing there was a week between Kapalua and getting halfway around the world for the Abu Dhabi Championship, where he is defending champion.

OVERLOOKED: Rod Pampling went nearly 10 years between victories in his native land, winning the Australian Masters last year at Huntingdale. Just his luck, his return next week to Melbourne as the defending champion coincides with the return of another player.

Tiger Woods is competing Down Under for the first time since 1998, and the first time in a regular tournament since 1996. That makes Pampling the most forgotten defending champion since Nick Price at the 2003 Colonial, which featured Annika Sorenstam.

Pampling was asked if anyone even knew he was the defending champion.

“My mom and dad do,” he said. “My brothers don’t.”

Woods agreed to play the Australian Masters – along with a $3 million appearance fee – in March. Woods and Pampling often play practice rounds together at the majors, and when they ran into each other that spring, Pampling offered a sarcastic thanks.

“I did mention to him that it’s my first time in 10 years since I won a tournament at home and I’m getting no recognition,” he said. “But hey, it’s huge news. It’s been a long time since he’s been down there, and his game has improved a little. I guess he’s worth going to see.”

All is not lost. Pampling has been invited to a dinner Tuesday night, and he does have some other media obligations.

“It’s going to be great having Tiger there,” Pampling said. “Look, whoever the defending champion is, when you have Tiger in the field, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are in the ranking or what tour you’re on.”
LOCAL CADDIE: Jerry Kelly didn’t need to see the sand painted red in the bunkers to feel like the HSBC Champions was a new experience. He has broken out a new set of Cleveland irons this week, and he has someone new on the bag.

“Got my new sticks, and my caddie in red,” he said.

Turning over his shoulder, he motioned to the local caddie he has hired for the week – Anna Zhu, who stands about 5-foot-1, and works at the Sheshan International Golf Club, where caddies wear red coveralls.

Kelly’s regular caddie, Eric Meller, is recovering from knee surgery.

“Been a while since I did my own (yardage) numbers,” Kelly said.
RYDER CUP UPDATE: U.S. players only earned Ryder Cup points this year at the majors, which is why the standings going into 2010 look so peculiar. Lucas Glover tops the standings, followed by Stewart Cink, Tiger Wood, Phil Mickelson and Kenny Perry.

That’s no typo at No. 6 – Tom Watson, who lost in a playoff at Turnberry. The last time Watson was involved in the Ryder Cup was in 1993, when he was the U.S. captain and caused a stir by having his players decline to sign dinner menus.

Tied for eighth is Ricky Barnes and David Duval – they tied for second at the U.S. Open and both are in jeopardy of losing their PGA Tour cards next year.

That all is most likely to change next year.
DIVOTS: Mark O’Meara and Ben Curtis will play next week in the Hong Kong Open, which already has a strong field with so many top players from Europe in the final event before the Dubai World Championship. Curtis currently is No. 75 in the Race to Dubai standings, and needs to get into the top 60 to qualify for the final event in Dubai. … The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has received approval to lower its field from 180 players to 156 players in February. … Jiyai Shin has won the Louise Suggs Award as the LPGA Tour’s rookie of the year. Shin also is leading in points for player of the year as she tries to become the first player since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win both awards in the same season.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Stuart Appleby did not qualify for the HSBC Champions, the first time he has not competed in a World Golf Championship since the series began in 1999.
FINAL WORD: “There’s no such thing as a performance-enhancing drug. It might make you strong, but I’m not sure it makes you a better golfer. If there’s a drug out there that helps you make a 3-footer, I’d like to know what it is.” – Paul Goydos.

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 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.