Love Holmes jump to early lead at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 26, 2010, 2:26 am

Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO, Fla. – Several players at Bay Hill are tuning up for the Masters.

Davis Love III is trying to get into the Masters.

This is the third straight year Love has been in this predicament, playing the Florida swing with no guarantee the road will lead down Magnolia Lane. That includes a demoralizing finish last year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Love missed the cut, but still could have made the top 50 in the world ranking when the tournament came down to the final hour. His last hope was for Pat Perez to make double bogey, and it almost happened when Perez – trying to win the tournament – fired at the flag and cleared the rocks framing the water by no more than a foot.

Love wound up at No. 51 by four-hundredths of a point.

It can drive a player crazy, which is why Love is trying not to think about such things. He got into trouble earlier this year when he tied for fifth in the Sony Open and started thinking ahead to all the great things that might follow – a return trip to the Masters for the first time since 2007, maybe even a spot on the Ryder Cup team for the first time since 2004.

So what happened?

He missed the cut in his next four tournaments.

Love has fallen to No. 89 in the world ranking, too far down to crack the top 50 with anything short of a victory. Then again, a victory comes with an automatic invitation to the Masters.

If nothing else, it’s clear what he has to do this week. Love took a good first step on Thursday with an amazing stretch early in his round and a strong finish for a 6-under 66 to share the lead with J.B. Holmes.

Love already is looking ahead – but only to Friday.

“All I’ve got to do is be patient and stay out of my own way,” Love said, “and I’ll be OK.”

He was tested immediately.

His approach to the first green plugged in a bunker, and Love barely got it out, leaving him 70 feet away for par, and he was quite happy to walk off that green with bogey. Then came his tee shot on the par-3 second hole, which came up short and left him a chip that swung sharply to the left by some 40 feet. Another bogey appeared imminent.

Instead, Love chipped that in for birdie and he was on his way. He made 12-foot birdie on the third, chipped in from 70 feet for eagle on the par-5 fourth, knocked in another birdie putt on No. 5 and hit a 4-iron to 10 feet for a two-birdie on the sixth.

Keeping his card was Daniel Chopra, who marks the scores with a pen that has four colors.

“I had all kinds of colors all over my scorecard,” Love said. “It was very pretty.”

So was the finish.

Love made birdie from the bunker on the par-5 16th, rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th, then finished his round with an 8-foot par putt after his approach went long into deep rough.

Where will this lead?

All Love knows for sure is that he will be playing in the Houston Open next week, and then at Hilton Head a week later. The Masters? He would hate to miss it, although that’s not a priority at the moment.

“It’s always in the back of your mind – or the front of your mind,” Love said. “After a few weeks where I played kind of poorly … I was just mentally kind of frazzled. I just said, ‘You’re going to have to just to play the ones you get in and do the best job you can and quit worrying about everything else.”’

Love has never won Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill, although he has come close. He finished a shot out of a playoff in 1999, then was runner-up to Tiger Woods a year later.

Woods is not playing Bay Hill, where he is the two-time defending champion, for the first time in his PGA Tour career. He will play for the first time since his sex scandal in two weeks at the Masters.

Holmes’ fortunes also changed quickly, although this was only one hole. After a good tee shot, his ball was in a divot, causing him to send his pitching wedge to the top tier of the green. He rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt, added an eagle two holes later on the par-5 12th and made it around the revamped Bay Hill course without a bogey.

Mike Weir of Canada had a rare moment when he reached a par 5 from a fairway bunker at No. 12 to set up one of his eight birdies on his way to a 5-under 67, tied with Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

Ernie Els, playing for the first time since his victory at Doral, was in the group at 68 that included Robert Allenby, who was atop the leaderboard at 6 under until putting his approach into the water and making double bogey.

Steve Stricker had a 69, while Phil Mickelson and Innisbrook winner Jim Furyk were among those at 71.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.