Notes Fujikawa headed for another island

By Doug FergusonJanuary 18, 2010, 2:50 am

2007 Sony Open

HONOLULU – Tadd Fujikawa doesn’t get many opportunities on the PGA Tour these days, so it was disappointing for the 19-year-old from Hawaii to fail to break par in both rounds and miss the cut in the Sony Open.

Next up is a big move, from one island to another, and a chance for Fujikawa to experience life on the tour.

Just not the PGA Tour.

Fujikawa has been spending most of his time at Sea Island in Georgia working with Todd Anderson and the stable of coaches who also work with Zach Johnson, Jonathan Byrd and others. He has signed up for eGolf Professional Tour – formerly the Tar Heel Tour – which features an 18-tournament schedule from February to October.

The membership fee is $2,000, and it cost $1,110 to enter each tournament, which is roughly last-place money. The tour pays the entry fee for PGA Tour qualifying for the top 20 players on its money list.

“Just try to go out there and play as much as I can and get some good experience playing tournaments,” Fujikawa said.

Leaving paradise won’t be terribly difficult, for Fujikawa and his mother, Lori, have rented a house at Sea Island for the last few years. Besides, an island is an island, right?

“It’s sort of like this, except the water is kind of … brown, to stay the least,” Fujikawa said with a laugh. “I don’t know, I never really went in the water there. I don’t think I want to. Usually, if you can’t see the bottom, that’s not a good thing.”

The golf? That’s a different story.

“All of the tour pros there, and Davis (Love) and J-Byrd and all of those guys … it’s a good atmosphere,” he said. “It really helps.”

ZACH’S BIG BREAK: Zach Johnson was headed home from two weeks in Hawaii and might not resurface again until Arizona, giving him a full month away from the PGA Tour.

The former Masters champion played the Shark Shootout and the Chevron World Challenge in December and believes his game is sharp. He wants to concentrate heavily on the Florida swing, and doesn’t want to overdo it on the West Coast. Of course, that would mean missing Riviera, one of his favorite stops.

“I just think it’s the best thing to do,” Johnson said. “I’ve talked to my counsel on that, and that’s kind of how we are pointing right now. I don’t think I can hit it hard if I don’t take that time off.”

Johnson also took a month off in 2008, returning to Riviera (the schedule was different that year) and the Match Play. He didn’t win that year until the Fall Series, although that was the year after he won the Masters and he was coping with being a first-time major winner.

What he recalls about that year was being ready to play.

“I learned a lot in ’08,” Johnson said. “I took four weeks off in a row, and then I took six weeks off at the end of the year. I don’t have the itch to play very often, and I had it. So I’m going to get that itch.”

GLOBAL GOLF: The field was particularly strong at the Sony Open, with the winner to receive 50 world ranking points. That’s up from last year, and is the equivalent to the field at the AT&T National last summer at Congressional.

PGA Tour points will dip significant next week with so many highly ranked players at Abu Dhabi, and none of the top 30 in the world expected to play at the Bob Hope Classic.

Chalk that up to more PGA Tour players taking up membership in Europe, and appearance money available in the Middle East.

Ernie Els wonders how long that will last.

“It will be interesting to see if they sustain that,” he said, referring to travel habits of U.S.-based players. “Myself and Vijay did it for 15 years, and then he kind of stopped doing that because he came to live over here.”

For players like Els, and several Europeans, traveling is simply a way of life, not a burden.

His global schedule has been questioned over the years, and Els jokingly said he might have done things differently had he won more than three majors.

“No, I come from South Africa,” he said. “I’ve gotten this question my whole career. I don’t think I would have done it any differently. That’s just the way we were – we are. Gary Player was that way because he started in South Africa. And he started spreading his wings, I just kind of followed suit.”

ANATOMY OF AN 8: For a guy whose young PGA Tour career has been solid but not spectacular, John Merrick received quite the perk when Nick Watney invited him to be his partner in the World Cup last fall in China.

The only bad memory was an 8 on a par 5. That’s not unusual, except that it happened in the better-ball format.

“It would taken an hour for me to explain the comedy of errors we made,” Merrick said. “We were just shaking our heads.”

He at least offered an abridged version.

In short, Watney was in a bunker off the tee and laid up to 80 yards, in good shape. Merrick went for the green in two with a hybrid, leaks it a little right and goes into the water. Watney had 65 yards to the front of the green and it went 64 yards, into mucky grass near a lake. He tries to play out of the hazard and whiffs, then takes a drop and is on his way to an 8.

As for Merrick? He took his drop, caught a flier lie and sailed fourth shot over the green into a bunker, short-siding himself. He chunks his bunker shot, chips to 10 feet and misses the putt.

Merrick was first in the cup, so he got credit for the 8.

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 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.