Notes Golf Channel hoping to mike up players

By Doug FergusonJanuary 5, 2011, 6:51 am

Hyundai Tournament of ChampionsKAPALUA, Hawaii – The Golf Channel came to the PGA Tour opener with hopes of putting a microphone on players for the Tournament of Champions. The trick now is to find a few volunteers.

Jack Graham, executive producer for the Golf Channel, said it has been approved to put mikes on players for the year. The player must agree to wear the mike, and with two days left, it appears it might not happen at Kapalua.

Some players don’t want to do it. Others are interested, just not in the first tournament of the year. Graham said at some point he expects players will get comfortable with the idea.

But he believes it’s an idea long overdue.

“If you look at where we are compared with other sports, we’re pretty far behind,” he said.

The Golf Channel miked players on the LPGA last year.

Given the economy and growing entertainment choices – and especially with a new television contract to be negotiated this year – the PGA Tour is doing what it can to make broadcasts more interesting.

There already is some live chatter at tournaments from the “shotgun mike” held some 10 yards away from players in the fairway. That can’t get anywhere near the green. When players are miked, it will not be live, rather repackaged during the telecast.

“I think it will work if we get some cooperation,” Graham said. “But it’s problematic. Some players will do it. Some won’t.”

Meanwhile, the Tour is allowing some flexibility in the pairings to help with TV.

The groups for Thursday and Friday rounds are determined by Tour winners and those who have won recently, players from the previous money list and those with lesser status, such as Q-school and Nationwide Tour grads or other nonmembers.

Now, there will be some 20 featured players from the “A list” that can be moved around to accommodate television. That means certain players from that group would be chosen to tee off from No. 1 in the afternoon on Friday so Golf Channel could feature them on the back nine – where most of the TV towers are located – in the peak hours of the telecast.

It’s possible that one player could be pulled out of his group and placed in another group to create a story line. Slugger White, the vice president of rules and competition for the Tour, said such movement would be rare.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the same group? That hasn’t happened on a Thursday and Friday in a regular PGA Tour event, although it could happen. Then again, there’s some thinking it is best to split them up over two days to maximize TV time.

There was a push to allow those who have never won – Rickie Fowler is more than just an example in this case – to move into the winner’s category. The Players Advisory Council shot that down, believing that spot should be earned.

However, Tour officials could move Fowler to a group next to the winner’s category to more easily feature him.

“We’re just trying to take care of our TV partners,” White said. “We’re all in this together. We’re trying to promote our sport.”


WORLD MONEY LIST: PGA champion Martin Kaymer won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, but that still wasn’t enough for the 26-year-old German to rank among the top 10 in worldwide earnings for 2010.

In a list tabulated for the annual “Year in Professional Golf,” U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell was No. 1 with $7.37 million. He was followed by Lee Westwood of England ($6.5 million) and Ernie Els ($6.3 million).

The world money list does not include bonus money from the Race to Dubai or the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour. It counts money at events that have at least four players and is contested over at least 36 holes.

The top American on the list was Dustin Johnson at $5.54 million, while FedEx Cup champion and three-time winner Jim Furyk finished seventh at $5.1 million.

Kaymer was 11th at slightly more than $4.6 million.


HAWAII NEWCOMER: No one figures to have less experience at the Tournament of Champions than Ian Poulter.

He had been on holiday with his family in the Bahamas when he flew out to Hawaii on Monday. Poulter showed up on the Plantation Course for the first time Tuesday with the intention of hitting balls, and playing the course for the first time on Wednesday in the pro-am.

He could be in for a surprise.

“I know nothing about the course,” Poulter said. “All I can tell you is the 18th is a par 5. That’s it. I know nothing else.”

Poulter has seen TV promotions of players hitting their second shots on the 18th, down the hill toward the ocean, one of the more spectacular views in golf. He knows that shot, but nothing else.

He usually is on holiday this week of the year, and that doesn’t include watching a golf tournament.


GWAA AWARDS: Jack Burke Jr. will be honored by the Golf Writers Association of America with its William D. Richard Award for his outstanding contributions to golf.

The GWAA also voted Steve Stricker as the winner of the ASAPSports/Jim Murray Award for his cooperation with the press, while USGA Women’s Committee chair Barbara Douglas won the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.

They will be honored April 6 at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.

Burke has been a passionate supporter of golf as a player and a teacher. He co-founded with Jimmy Demaret the Champions Golf Club, which has hosted a U.S. Open, Ryder Cup, U.S. Amateur and Tour Championship. Douglas, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009, has served on the USGA women’s committee since 1993 and remains a strong proponent of junior golf in Arizona.


MUSICAL CLUBS: Typical of a new season, some players arrived on Maui with new clubs after their previous deals expired. The most noteworthy, perhaps because of the monstrous year he had, was U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell switching from Callaway to Srixon.

He will use Srixon irons and golf balls and Cleveland wedges. McDowell will wear a Srixon hat and glove and carry the logo on his bag.

Players champion Tim Clark, meanwhile, has left Srixon for Titleist.

Jim Furyk, who had an endorsement deal with Srixon, will continue using its irons. But he has switched to a TaylorMade bag, as the FedEx Cup champion will be using the TaylorMade driver and ball.

Not in the field is former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who has left Nike for Callaway. Kevin Streelman signed with Wilson.


DIVOTS: Geoff Ogilvy showed up at Kapalua with grips on his golf clubs that are unlike any other – they were made from the hide of kangaroo in his native Australia. … Graham DeLaet and Alena Sharp have been voted players of the year by the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. DeLaet finished 100th on the PGA Tour money list in his rookie season, while Sharp was 56th on the LPGA Tour money list. … The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines will allow fans to bring cell phones to the course in an ongoing experiment. They must be switched on silent, and designated areas are set aside for phone calls. Fans can send texts and e-mails, but they cannot take video or pictures during competition days.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The Tournament of Champions features 19 of the top 40 players in the world. Nine of the 19 are Americans.


FINAL WORD: “I would like to play with him every Sunday afternoon in the last group for the rest of my life. I guarantee I’m going to beat him every once in a while. Guarantee it.” – Rocco Mediate, on playing with Tiger Woods.

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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