Finchem PGA Tour clean on 1-year anniversary

By Doug FergusonJuly 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. ' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was the first to be tested for drugs under its anti-doping policy that began last year at the AT&T National. Tim Clark was the first player to be tested.
One year and more than a thousand random samples later, Finchem says the tour remains clean.
There have been no suspensions because of doping, Finchem said Wednesday. Its not going to surprise me if we have some issue, but I think whats clear is we do not have a doping problem. Having an issue or two as we go forward does not mean were having a problem. It could mean a lot of things. But ' knock on wood ' were very pleased at this point in time.
Under the anti-doping policy, the tour is required to notify the media if a player tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Finchem declined to say, however, if anyone has tested positive for a recreational drug, such as marijuana.
While such drugs are covered under the policy, the tour treats that as conduct unbecoming a professional and would not make any positive tests public.
I said we have had not positive tests with respect to performance enhancing, he said. We may have had some test results that trouble us in other areas that we treat in a different bucket. But we dont publicize those.
We may in those instances ' Im not saying this has happened or not, Im just saying what the process is ' consider it conduct unbecoming, and what are our choices? We can suspend a player, we can fine a player, we can do both of those and put a player into treatment. We could also add to that regular treatment.
He asked to confirm if anyone has tested positive for recreational drugs.
I wouldnt say yes or no to that, he said. Ill say this ' we dont have a problem in that area.
Finchem said the International Olympic Committee observed the tours drug-testing procedures earlier this year and was impressed. And while he says golf remains clean on the one-year anniversary of testing, he would not be surprised if that changed.
I think when youre dealing with hundreds of athletes, and things can get into your body, we may very well have problems, Finchem said. But at this point, not only do the players accept the rule, they put it on the same level as any other rule of golf. They work hard to understand what they need to be doing. They stay updated, and weve avoided problems.

CONGRESSIONAL HIATUS: Most players have found Congressional to be in the best shape in the three years of the AT&T National, especially the greens. Just in time for the greens to be rebuilt for the U.S. Open in 2011.
Tournament host Tiger Woods will take the tournament to Aronomink outside Philadelphia for the next two years, as new greens are being installed and the U.S. Open is held. It will return through 2014, with an option for three more years.
Its unfortunate, with the U.S. Open coming here. We have no choice, Woods said. We have to go, and its part of what the USGA makes you do. I think the golf course can be in even better shape with the new greens.
Jim Furyk tied for fifth at Congressional in the 1997 U.S. Open, six shots behind Ernie Els. The course has been renovated since then and no longer closes with a par 3 over the water on the 18th.
Furyk already has noticed more changes, such as extended tee boxes. Hes mostly concerned about the greens, however.
The one thing you have here from a U.S. Open standpoint is that its very difficult to make the greens here too quick, he said. If you get them up there at 12, 13 (on the Stimpmeter), you really lose a lot of your pin placements, and you lose your ability to make the golf course playable.

GROOVES AND ROUGH: The PGA Tour is moving ahead with a USGA rule on smaller grooves next year, and commissioner Tim Finchem says there might be changes to how a golf course is set up ' but not right away.
Finchem says the rough has not been as high this year at several golf courses, main to compare the effect with previous years.
The reason we did that was to set the stage for now measuring what happens on those same golf courses when we shift grooves, he said. Youre not going to see us revolutionize our setup the first month of next year, but over time were going to be experiments with a lot of different ways to set things up.
Our hope is that this change is going to make the game more interesting to watch from a variety of perspectives.
He also said the tour is leaning toward applying the new grooves to Monday qualifying at PGA Tour events, but not the pre-qualifiers that are typically held five days earlier. Those pre-qualifiers rarely have PGA Tour members, while Monday qualifying that offers four spots in the tournament have more PGA Tour players.

GLOVER THE GOLFER: U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover played just about every sport until sticking with golf in the eighth grade.
It was an easy decision.
I was a short, dumpy kid, so I played line in football and I didnt like to be on the bottom of the pile, he said.
It ultimately came down between golf and baseball.
I was a catcher, and I got hit a few times where it didnt feel great, Glover said. So I pulled the plug on that pretty quick.
Someone found it hard to believe that Glover was short and dumpy. When did that change?
About the time I quit all those other sports, he said. My shoe size and my age were the same from when I was 7 to 14, if that tells you anything about how much I was growing.
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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.

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm