Let the encores begin on PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonJanuary 5, 2011, 11:29 pm

Hyundai Tournament of ChampionsKAPALUA, Hawaii – Graeme McDowell didn’t stop flying around the world until there were no tournaments left for him to play.

After seven straight weeks that took him from Spain to Shanghai to Singapore, then Hong Kong, Dubai, California and Florida, McDowell finally landed home for the holidays in Northern Ireland with snow on the ground and his golf clubs nowhere near him.

And just like that, he’s back to work.

The trick now is to figure out where he’s going from here.

McDowell talked about wanting to take his game to the next level, forgetting for a moment that he already did that. He won his first major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, one of four victories on the season. He brought the Ryder Cup back to Europe by winning the final match. And he ended the year by becoming the first player to overcome a four-shot deficit in the final round against Tiger Woods.

What next level?

“Yeah, good point. Next level … it’s just kind of something you say,” McDowell said at Kapalua, where he’ll kick off the PGA Tour season Thursday at the Tournament of Champions.

“Unlikely that I will display heroics like I did in 2010, but anything sort of within the vicinity of the year like 2010 would do quite nicely.”

McDowell is happy to be in Hawaii, although he would be among the few with reason to feel melancholy about leaving the snow of Northern Ireland for the Pacific warmth and mesmerizing views of the Maui coastline.

It’s a new year, and McDowell wishes the old year would have never ended.

“I’m in a period now where I want to maintain this world ranking (No. 5) and prove that I’m a world-class player,” he said. “So the next level … what I meant to say is trying to keep doing what I’m doing, really. It’s going to be a pretty tough season to replicate. To win a major championship and to hold the winning putt at the Ryder Cup is dream stuff, really.”

The 34-man field assembled at Kapalua at least shares one goal – they want to come back next year, too. The only way to get a tee time on the Plantation Course is to win on the PGA Tour.

Jim Furyk won a career-best three times last year, including the $10 million bonus for the FedEx Cup. Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Ernie Els each won two times. There also are newcomers, from Robert Garrigus winning the final tournament of the PGA Tour season at Disney to Tim Clark winning The Players Championship for his first victory in America.

“It’s a place you always want to come,” said two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy. “It’s one of the nicest venues all year, if not the nicest. It’s a nice little treat, a reward for winning a tournament the year before, and a little bit of a head start on everyone else. Nice hotel, nice place, Hawaii. Everything is good about this tournament.”

As always, there are a few players missing.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson stopped coming to Kapalua in 2002, while British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen decided to stay home for the Africa Open this week. PGA champion Martin Kaymer of Germany opted not to join the PGA Tour or play in Hawaii. Two other Europeans who won on tour, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, opted to stay on vacation.

Also missing is Woods, this time not by choice. He failed to win anywhere in the world, much less the PGA Tour, and failed to qualify for the event.

At least this time, his absence is not such a topic of conversation. His unfolding sex scandal and the uncertainty when he would return dominated headlines last season. Now that he’s back to playing golf, the question is whether he can play like he once did.

That can wait until his return later this month at Torrey Pines.

In some respects, the Tournament of Champions might be the easiest event to win on tour. While it’s the only tournament all year with only PGA Tour winners from the previous year, some of them have been in hibernation.

Steve Stricker went nearly two months without playing after the Ryder Cup, returned for a couple of weeks in December, then headed out to Phoenix to start shaking off the rust. When he realized it was not much warmer than his home in Wisconsin, he kept flying west until he landed in paradise.

Ian Poulter, whose season really only ended three weeks ago, was in the Bahamas with his family and didn’t arrive until Monday night. He did not play the massive elevation changes and spacious greens on the Plantation course until his pro-am Wednesday.

Poulter could find the first tee because it’s in front of the clubhouse. He knew the 18th was a par 5. And that’s about it.

The advantage tends to go to the Australians, many of whom have been playing Down Under in the weeks leading to Kapalua. Ogilvy has won the last two years, and a win this week would tie him with Stuart Appleby, another Australian who won three straight years at Kapalua.

“We just play a little bit later and we are competitive more recently than they are,” said Ogilvy, speaking to a 10-year drought of American players winning this event. “But you don’t forget how to play golf in five weeks. I think it’s more a coincidence than anything else.”

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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

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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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