De Jonge leads by 1 over group including Spieth, Stenson

By Doug FergusonMarch 14, 2015, 12:06 am

 PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) - Brendon de Jonge rolled in a pair of long putts on his way to a 2-under 69 and the 36-hole lead Friday in the Valspar Championship. Based on the holes remaining, he is halfway home to his first PGA Tour title.

Considering how many players are still in the mix - essentially everyone who made the cut - the weekend might feel even longer.

Only seven shots separated de Jonge from the players who made the cut on the number, the first time the first-to-worst gap has been that small since the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's.

"Obviously, gives you a good chance for the weekend," de Jonge said. He was at 6-under 136, the highest score to lead after 36 holes at Innisbrook in six years.


Valspar Championship: Articles, videos and photos


De Jonge said that after he finished his round in the morning, uncertain how hard the wind would blow and who might get hot with the putter. The wind died, no one could sustain a great round without a few mistakes and he had the 36-hole lead for the fourth time in his career.

But not by much.

Jordan Spieth made a birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th for a 4-under 67 to match the best score of the round. Henrik Stenson, playing the Copperhead course for the first time and apparently enjoying it, made eagle on his first hole and wound up with a 70.

They were one shot behind, along with Ryan Moore (68), Kevin Streelman (69) and Derek Ernst (70).

Ernst, who had only one round in the 60s this year, ran off five straight birdies around the turn to reach 8 under par until he started missing greens, missing putts and making bogeys to fall one shot behind de Jonge.

"Starting the day if you told me I would have shot 1 under I would have been very happy with it," Ernst said.

Lucas Glover had a 69 and joined Moore and Streelman as the only players to break 70s for both rounds. He was two shots behind, along with Sean O'Hair (72), Ricky Barnes (72) and Ian Poulter (70). Poulter hasn't been to Innisbrook since 2010, and he was asked what had kept him away.

"Because I'm a buffoon," Poulter said. "I mean, stupid. This golf course I can compete on because it's fiddly, it's position off the tee, small greens, need to chip it well, good pace putting when you're above the hole. All those things I do well."

Poulter recalls the greens being sloppy the last time he played, and so he instructed his caddie to never allow him to return. Seven holes into his pro-am round, he said he told his caddie, "What the ... was I doing not being here?"

Justin Thomas (72) and Vijay Singh (70) were in the group at 3-under 139, with Luke Donald (68), Matt Kuchar (70) and Patrick Reed (68) among those four behind.

Adam Scott is about the only guy who doesn't have a chance because he didn't make the cut. Scott missed four putts from inside 5 feet on his way to a 75 and missed the cut by three shots. It's the first time he had the weekend off at a golf tournament since the 2012 Byron Nelson Championship.

What makes Innisbrook so mysterious is that players are irritated by the shots they left out on the course, only to realize they're not in bad shape. Such was the case of Stenson, who made a 25-foot eagle on his opening hole, a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole and nothing but pars and two bogeys in between.

"I didn't get it close enough to give myself too many birdies," Stenson said. "All in all, pretty pleased."

Spieth rammed in a 20-foot birdie on the third hole that he said left a ball mark on the back of the cup. So that was a good break. He made a 30-foot birdie on No. 6 and rolled it in from 18 feet on the final hole. That was enough to put him in the final group, even if he's not sure how he got there.

"This is one of those random places where you feel like you should have shot better than you did, but you're not out of it," he said. "You can make birdies. The problem is there is trouble around every corner."

There was even trouble in the fairway. Early in the round, Charley Hoffman stopped when he saw a 10-foot alligator walking across the third fairway.

"We weren't going anywhere fast," Hoffman said. "And neither was he."

DIVOTS: Jonathan Byrd made a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th hole, but he ended up missing the cut for the first time in 12 trips to Innisbrook. ... Ernie Els snapped an iron across a pine tree trying to play a shot on the 16th hole. He recovered fine, except for a three-putt from 6 feet for double bogey. He missed the cut.

Getty Images

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

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.