Lots of drama and rain at Ryder Cup not golf

By Doug FergusonOctober 2, 2010, 1:31 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Only in the Ryder Cup can so little golf produce so much drama.

More than 11 hours after these high-charged matches began in a steady rain at Celtic Manor, they ended in darkness with Ian Poulter making a 20-foot birdie putt to square his fourballs match against Tiger Woods on a green illuminated by a large video board.

One problem: They were only on the 10th hole.

None of the four matches in the opening session finished. Captains never even turned in the lineup for the four alternate-shot matches scheduled for the afternoon.

The rain did more than suspend play for more than seven hours. It exposed a wardrobe malfunction with the Americans’ rain suits, and forced an unprecedented schedule change with the hope – or maybe it’s a prayer – that the Ryder Cup will have a winner by Sunday. That means everyone will be playing the rest of the way until one teams hoists the cup.

Ultimately, no one put a single point on the board Friday.

“We were supposed to play for eight points today,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “And we didn’t play for one.”

The Americans at least felt as though they had some momentum.

Trailing in three of the four matches when play was halted, Woods made a clutch par to keep from falling two holes down, and he and Steve Stricker won consecutive holes for their first lead until Poulter made his birdie in the dark.

Stewart Cink, the guy U.S. captain Corey Pavin forgot to introduce at the opening ceremony, was impossible to miss on the golf course by making one big putt after another. He and Matt Kuchar took a 2-up lead over U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy through 11 holes.

The American rookies were just as relentless. Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton won the first two holes with birdies before the rain, and they were 1-up on Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. The Americans already have a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole, and Donald will have a chance to halve the hole with a 6-foot putt when they return Saturday.

Europe was leading only in the first match, with Lee Westwood and PGA champion Martin Kaymer 1 up through 12 holes over Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Europe was 3 up through six holes when Mickelson led a rally.

Ultimately, the rain-soaked and mud-splattered fans saw only four hours of golf, some of it quite sloppy given the conditions. Woods took four shots to reach the first green. Europe won that hole with a par when Ross Fisher’s tee shot was lodged in the lining of a fan’s umbrella. He was given a free drop and was able to hit onto the green.

Volunteers armed with squeegees were constantly mopping up large puddles across the landing area in the fairways and on every green, until they could no longer keep up with all the water.

The entertainment didn’t let up even when the golf was suspended. If nothing else, it gave the U.S. team time to do a little shopping in the merchandise tent in yet another embarrassing moment.

The Americans looked soaked in their navy blue rain suits with white stripes, and there was a reason for that – they didn’t work. Pavin never explained why it took until Friday at the Ryder Cup to figure this out, or what specifically was wrong with them.

“My suit was fine. I had no problems – but I wasn’t playing,” Pavin said. “They just didn’t perform the way they were supposed to perform, and so we just went out and bought some more, simple as that.”

Team officials bought 20 suits from the same company that outfitted a dry-looking European team – although they weren’t even necessary when play eventually resumed.

Woods’ match was approaching the sixth green when Pavin huddled with PGA of America officials to agree on the schedule change.

Once the fourballs matches are completed Saturday morning, the next session will be six alternate-shot matches, followed by a third session of six more matches – two alternate-shot and four better-ball matches. Ideally, those would be wrapped up Sunday morning in time for the decisive 12 singles matches.

Rain is forecast over the weekend, and this could be the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history. Until then, everyone will be playing until one team hoists the cup. That includes Westwood, in his first competition in six weeks because of a calf injury.

“Well, if they’re not fit, they shouldn’t be here,” Montgomerie said. “And they’re fit, so they are here.”

Montgomerie saved his sympathy for some 45,000 fans, who went from singing and chanting and waving flags in the morning to waiting about seven hours during a delay that seemed would never end. Enough of them returned to line every fairway and fill every grandstand where matches were played.

“They pay a lot of money, and unfortunately, the appalling weather conditions out there today made it very tough for them,” Montgomerie said. “I hope they saw some great golf later on in the day.”

Montgomerie saw enough, especially at the end from Poulter.

Confident as ever, making eye contact with the fans as he stepped on every tee, Poulter made a 30-foot birdie on the third hole to give Europe the lead. Just as Woods and Stricker tag-teamed their way into the lead, the Englishman delivered again on the par-3 10th.

Montgomerie said Poulter considered waiting until Saturday morning to putt.

“He thought, ‘OK, I’ll do this and give the team momentum if I hole it, give the team momentum going into the next day.’ And he definitely did that,” Montgomerie said. “What a roar went up when the putt went in! Fantastic effort. That will give us momentum we need to carry forward into a very, very busy day tomorrow.”

First, the teams have to finish the opening set of matches. Regarding his match, Woods referred to it as an eight-hole “boat race.” Considering the kind of day, it was a good choice of words.

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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

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