Cut policy change helps Pettersson to victory
Pettersson was among those who put in writing his opposition to the tour’s new cut rule at the start of the 2008 season. In an effort to avoid two-tee starts and 5 1/2 -hour rounds on the weekend, the tour changed its policy from the top 70 and ties to the nearest number of players to 70th place whenever more than 78 players made the cut.
It caused so much consternation that someone posted a one-question survey – “Do you agree with the new cut policy?” in the locker room at the Sony Open. There were six signatures under “No,” which included Pettersson.
The policy was changed a short time later to include a 54-hole cut when more than 78 players qualified for the weekend. Two years later, that change enabled Pettersson to keep playing at the Canadian Open, where he made the cut on the number Friday, shot 60 on Saturday and closed with a 67 to win on Sunday.
“I would have missed the cut,” Pettersson said. “Now they have the Saturday cut instead, which … I really don’t see the point of it. But I guess it helps people get around quicker.”
Pettersson still doesn’t like the amended rule, and he has company.
John Daly was a victim of the original cut policy at the Sony Open. He made the cut on the number in Canada, but failed to stay inside the top 70 and ties after Saturday’s round of 73.
“It used to be a 72-hole tournament, shouldn’t they let everyone play hard right to the end?” Daly said on Twitter.
Also knocked out was former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, who also made the cut on the number, only to shoot 74 on Saturday. Azinger agreed with one of his follower’s tweets that the 54-hole cut kept fans from watching three major champions – Azinger, Daly and Lee Janzen. Who knew they had such a following?
It’s worth noting that Azinger also was among the six who signed the makeshift petition two years ago in Hawaii.
BEEM’S BACK: Rich Beem will return to the PGA Tour at Whistling Straits for the PGA Championship.
He just won’t have his golf clubs with him.
Beem, who had back surgery in April, said he will be doing some work for TNT Sports during the PGA Championship, where he also will attend the Champions Dinner. He won at Hazeltine in 2002.
As for his golf? Beem plans to play about three Nationwide Tour events after the PGA Championship to see where his game is. Then, he will have four PGA Tour events in the Fall Series. To play the PGA Tour any sooner would mean forfeiting a major medical extension, which he will use for the 2011 season.
“I’ve been playing quite a bit,” he said Tuesday. “I just haven’t been playing very well quite a bit. Each day gets a little better.”
OLYMPIC MOVEMENT: The top priority is to find an executive director for the International Golf Federation, the governing body for golf in the Olympics, and to determine where in Brazil to host the first Olympic golf tournament in more than a century.
At some point, however, the United States will need to create a national governing body that will work with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
It would seem natural for the U.S. Golf Association to assume that role, except that the players competing in Rio in 2016 most likely will be members of the PGA Tour and LPGA.
“Technically speaking, whoever the member of the international federation is of that country tends to be the NGB (national governing body) for their own Olympic committee,” said Ty Votaw, who helped spearhead golf’s inclusion in the Olympics. “That’s difficult in the United States because the USGA is a member of the International Golf Federation, but there are a lot of other entities.”
Along with the PGA Tour and LPGA, other U.S. groups that belong to the IGF are the PGA of America, USGA and the Masters.
Meanwhile, still under consideration is whether golf can be added to the Pan American Games in 2015, which will be in Toronto.
CONSISTENT LUKE: All of the top 10 players in the world ranking have multiple victories over the last two years – except Luke Donald. So what is the Englishman doing at No. 7 in the world?
It starts with consistency.
Donald’s only victory on his two-year ledger came at the end of May against an ordinary field in the Madrid Masters. Still, the Englishman has racked up seven top 3s and 16 finishes in the top 10. Donald seems to be largely forgotten until Sunday, when his name pops up on the leaderboard.
Just don’t get the idea he’s satisfied with a world ranking.
“I need to win more tournaments,” Donald said after closing with a 66 to finish third in the Canadian Open. “Just contending isn’t good enough if you want to be the best. You’ve got to go out there and beat the best continually, which I haven’t done in the last few years.”
SOAKING IT ALL IN: It might not be the holy grail in golf, but for USGA executive director David Fay, it comes awfully close.
Fay and his wife, Joan, bundled up in three layers of clothing, grabbed rain gear and umbrellas, and climbed to the top row of grandstands along the 11th hole at St. Andrews during the third round of the British Open. They arrived an hour before competition began and stayed there for more than nine hours.
What’s so special about that grandstand?
Fay said they could see the seventh and 11th holes (which share the same green), all of the par-3 eighth and par-4 ninth, and all of the par-4 10th except the tee box. By turning around, they could see the entire sixth and 12th holes and parts of the 13th.
Beyond the course were uninterrupted views of the Eden Estuary and St. Andrews Bay.
“Once play got going, my wife’s comment was that it was a bit like going to a gymnastics meet – you don’t know where to turn because there’s something going on everywhere,” Fay said. “We could see it all unfold. I think it’s the best viewing spot in golf, if not all of sports. It was like no other sporting experience.”
DIVOTS: The European Tour will have a new event next year in Bahrain called the Tournament of Champions. It will be held Jan. 27-30 in 2011 as part of the Middle East swing and include a 126-man field of past and current winners. Starting in 2012, the tournament will be only for current winners and move to an early January date, making it the first tournament on the European Tour schedule. … This will be only the second time in his career that Tiger Woods was not atop the standings for a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team. The other was in 1998, when he was second to David Duval for the Presidents Cup. … Ernie Els has missed the cut in his last three tournaments.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson is the only player from the top 10 in the world to have won a major since 2009.
FINAL WORD: “I’m not your typical Swede, as you know. I don’t have a 28-inch waist, and I don’t eat bananas at the turn.” – Carl Pettersson.
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