Love back in familiar place at Sony

By Doug FergusonJanuary 15, 2010, 5:05 am

2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU – Davis Love III has not played a tournament in two months. Robert Allenby probably should not have played at all. And then there was Troy Merritt, who had never played a PGA Tour event in his life until Thursday in the Sony Open.

They were among six players tied for the lead on a windy day at Waialae that swept into all sorts of possibilities.

The first full-field event of the PGA Tour season produced quite the log jam, with Allenby and his severely twisted ankle and John Merrick the latest to join the fray at 5-under 65.

The other two were defending champion Zach Johnson and Ryan Palmer, linked in a peculiar way. Johnson is a big believer in taking one day at a time. Palmer read about Johnson’s tenet in the tournament program while looking for something to read, and it inspired him.

When the sun finally disappeared along the shores of Waikiki, everyone had a story. They also had company, for 10 other players found themselves only one shot behind at 66.

Even more surprising is that so many low scores came on a day of swaying palm trees from wind so strong that Masters champion Angel Cabrera, among those at 66, reached the 498-yard ninth hole with a wedge, and Pat Perez hit a 7-iron out of the rough from 210 yards on the tough opening hole.

Perhaps the best indication that this would be a strange day came from a standardbearer.

Merritt, a 24-year-old from Boise State, was walking down the third fairway Thursday morning when someone pointed out that the wrong name was on the hand-held scoring sign. It said Merrick.

Their names sound the same and are almost spelled the same.

“We have lockers right next to each other,” Merrick said. “Probably will all year.”

It was only fitting they wound up with the same score.

The round was almost complete. Tom Gillis had a 25-foot eagle putt on his final hole when he decided it was too dark to continue. He will return Friday morning to putt, then start his second round.

Indeed, this was a peculiar start for the first full-field event to the season.

It started with Love, who had not felt grass under his feet for the last month. It was either so cold along the Georgia coastline that he was hitting balls into a net in his garage, or he was in Idaho for a winter vacation.

No sooner had he checked into his hotel Saturday night, Love raced out to the 11th green to get onto a golf course, and he putted until he could no longer see the hole. The way he putted on Thursday, he didn’t need to see it.

Love played bogey-free and was among the first to post a 65.

“I was optimistic,” Love said. “But I was anxious about competing. Once I got it going, once I got under par … I’ve been out here a long time. You don’t forget.”

Merritt lingered, even if no one knew who he was. He was playing alongside 21-year-old Rickie Fowler, whom everyone seems to know, yet it was Merritt who provided the pure shots and the timely putting. Merritt had told his fiancee he would be thrilled with 3-under par, and one can imagine how he felt when he birdied his last hole for a 65.

“Things went way better than I thought,” Merritt said.

Allenby was the only player at Waialae who arrived with a winning streak. He won in the Nedbank Challenge, then the Australian PGA, and was going for a walk with his wife, Sandy, when he took a bad step off a curb and twisted his ankle.

The Australian wasn’t sure he could play and might have left any other tournament. Then again, he flew 12 hours from Florida and didn’t much feel like turning around.

“And the weather is better,” Allenby said.

He played gingerly on the taped right ankle, however, and had a hard time hitting a fade. That didn’t keep him from firing a 4-iron at the flag on the tough par-3 fourth for a birdie.

“My putting was the best part of the day,” Allenby said. “I did hit some good shots, but my putting was good. It’s the same as I left off last year.”

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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