Mickelson 1 off Pebble Beach lead

By Doug FergusonFebruary 13, 2016, 12:19 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Sunghoon Kang didn't know anything about his amateur partner until he went on the Internet and looked up actor Ray Romano. He didn't realize the par at Monterey Peninsula was 71 until he scrambled for par on his final hole and realized while signing his card Friday that he set the course record with a career-low 60.

It added to a memorable day at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where Kang and Hiroshi Iwata of Japan wound up tied for the lead.

''I feel like I'm living a dream right now,'' Kang said.

Kang and Phil Mickelson each brought the possibility of 59 into the conversation - one early in his round, the other late.

Mickelson took only 11 putts on the front nine at Monterey Peninsula. When he made a 40-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole, he was 7 under for the round and had a pair of par 5s remaining over his last eight holes.

He made bogey on one of the par 5s, hooking his fairway metal into shrubs and having to reach into the thick plants with a hybrid to punch out the ball and make sure it only went about 6 feet so that it wouldn't go up the slope and roll back into the bushes. Lefty usually doesn't hit great shots that go 6 feet unless he has a putter.


AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, photos and videos


Then, he nearly lost his tee shot on the final hole and made another bogey for a 65, leaving him one shot behind.

''I thought I was going to shoot a lot lower than I did,'' Mickelson said. ''I didn't expect to play 1 over coming in. But I'm not going to complain because I made a lot of good putts on the front.''

He goes to Pebble Beach on Saturday as he goes after a record-tying fifth win in this event.

Kang and Iwata were at 11-under 132.

Iwata, who tied a major championship record with a 63 at the PGA Championship last year at Whistling Straits, had a 66 at Pebble Beach.

Mickelson, Freddie Jacobson (69 at Spyglass Hill) and Chez Reavie (70 at Pebble Beach) were one shot to par behind at 10 under, while Justin Rose had a 68 at Monterey Peninsula and was at 9 under.

Jordan Spieth failed to birdie any of the par 5s at Monterey Peninsula - he is 1 under on the par 5s this week even though he could reach all of them in two shots - and his round of two birdies and 16 pars put him at 3-under 140 and eight shots out of the lead.

''I'm 1 under on the par 5s, and from where I've been, they have pretty much all been par 4s for me,'' Spieth said. ''So it almost feels like I'm playing them 7 over.''

Rose thought Monterey Peninsula was difficult because the greens are not as pure as the other courses. Then he was told that Kang was at 11 under and playing his final hole and Rose smiled and said, ''The greens are obviously perfect.''

Kang couldn't agree more. He lost track of the number of birdie putts he made in the 15-foot range, saying they were ''too many to count.'' Some of them he read on his own. Other times he brought in the experience of his caddie, Mike ''Fluff'' Cowan, who is working for Kang while Jim Furyk recovers from wrist surgery.

And the 28-year-old South Korean had an actor at his side cheering him along.

Romano, who has become a regular at this event, wasn't sure the name of his partner earlier in the week. No offense taken. Kang didn't know him, either.

''One of my buddies came up and said, 'Oh, you're with Ray. He's very famous,''' Kang said. ''I did some research on it. I Googled Ray and he was like on a really famous TV show for six or seven years. He gets like almost a third more earnings from TV drama show.''

Asked if Romano knew him, Kang smiled and said, ''I think he'll remember me after today.''

Kang had three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to start his round, picked up a pair of birdies early on the front nine and then poured it on with three straight birdies that brought him to 11 under with only the par-3 ninth remaining.

''I still thought the par was 72,'' he said.

He hit what he called his worst shot of the day, a big cut that came up short and in the rough. He chipped to 15 feet and saved par.

''It was just going in every single time,'' he said.

Jason Day had a 66 at Monterey Peninsula to get within five shots of the lead. Patrick Reed, playing alongside Mickelson, had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch on the back nine and also was at 6 under.

DIVOTS: Monterey Peninsula was the only course that played under par on Friday, just barely. Pebble Beach again played the toughest by a small margin over Spyglass Hill. ... Ryan Palmer made a hole-in-one on the third hole at Spyglass Hill.

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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