DJ wins Doral just one month after returning to Tour

By Doug FergusonMarch 8, 2015, 11:13 pm

DORAL, Fla. – The six-month break from the game raised more questions about Dustin Johnson's personal life than his golf. He said it gave him time to work on a little of each, and he delivered answers to both Sunday at the Cadillac Championship.

Johnson made up a five-shot deficit on J.B. Holmes and had a one-shot lead as he stood on the 18th tee at Trump National Doral, among the most daunting shots in golf. He produced his best drive all week, a monster shot that cleared the corner of the water and sent him to a routine par and a victory that never felt better.

He left the green holding his 7-week-old son, Tatum, with fiancee Paulina Gretzky at his side.

''I knew I was really good,'' Johnson said. ''I knew there was something I was missing that could make me great. I was working hard on that, and I think it's showing right now. I'm so excited right now, I can't hardly talk. It feels great. This one definitely, by far, is the best one.''

Johnson holed two big par putts from 20 feet and 10 feet that put him in the lead on a back nine of survival, seized control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and powered home to a 3-under 69 and a one-shot victory over Holmes.

It was his ninth career win, and second World Golf Championship title, and it returned him to the elite in golf at No. 7 in the world.

Still lingering are questions about his curious six-month leave he announced in August that caused him to miss the final major and the Ryder Cup. He said it was to seek professional help for ''personal challenges.'' reported he had failed a second cocaine test, the first one in 2012 when he missed the Masters for what he called a back injury from lifting a jet ski from the water.

Johnson said again he has never failed a drug test. He said he was done talking about it in an interview with The Associated Press in January, and when pressed anew about why he had not been more forthcoming with answers, Johnson replied, ''Because it's personal and frankly, it's not really anybody's business.''

WGC-Cadillac Championship : Articles, videos and photos

In an interview before he returned, Johnson said he was handling stress through too much partying. He said he spent time with his future father-in-law - hockey great Wayne Gretzky - and a person he described as a life coach.

There are no questions about his golf. The swagger was back, especially as he closed in on a victory.

Johnson won in his fifth start back - Johnson lost in a playoff at Riviera and tied for fourth at Pebble Beach - and did what few others could manage at Doral. He never made worse than a bogey all week, and he didn't have a single three-putt.

''If he's won nine times out here, you're pretty good,'' Holmes said after making only one birdie in a round of 75.

Holmes lost his five-shot lead quickly, thanks to three bogeys in his opening five holes, and Masters champion Bubba Watson opening with four birdies in seven holes. Watson went from a five-shot deficit to a two-shot lead on the front nine, but three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine - two from bunkers, one from the palm trees - ended his big run. He closed with a 71 and finished two shots behind.

''A couple of shots, just missed the fairway by a few feet. Missed the green by a few feet. That's what this golf course does,'' Watson said. ''If you're just off, it can get to you real fast.''

Holmes made his lone birdie with a 3-wood onto the green at the 293-yard 16th hole for a two-putt birdie that pulled him to within one shot. With no margin for error, Johnson was at his best over the closing two holes, especially the 18th with Holmes already in the fairway.

''I absolutely smashed it,'' Johnson said. ''I wasn't worried about it getting over the lake. ... I played the hole the best I've played it all week. And it was a good time to do that.''

Adam Scott (71) and Henrik Stenson (72) tied for fourth, though they were five shots behind.

Rory McIlroy got his 3-iron back, the one he heaved into the water on the eighth hole Friday. A diver retrieved and Donald Trump delivered it to him on the range. McIlroy used it on the 18th hole and hit into the water for a double bogey and a 72. The world's No. 1 player, who missed the cut in the Honda Classic last week, tied for ninth.

Johnson finished at 9-under 279, adding to the WGC title he won in Shanghai at the end of 2013. He was on top of his game, one of golf's most athletic figures who already had contended in three majors. Then came the indefinite leave. And now he's back.

''I've been working hard on my game and been working hard on me,'' Johnson said. ''And so it means a great deal to have success right out of the gate. It gives me a lot of confidence, too.''

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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

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Green jacket tour

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Man of the people

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Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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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