Notes: Mickelson doesn't need win to validate year

By Doug FergusonAugust 2, 2016, 8:16 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Phil Mickelson is running out of time to validate what quietly has been a good year, minus only a victory.

He is not running out of patience.

Mickelson expects the disappointment from his runner-up finish in the British Open to linger because of how well he played, only to lose to the lowest score in major championship history. He found himself thinking too much about results in the PGA Championship, and along with not making putts, he was never a factor at Baltusrol.

''Certainly, the play this year at the British tells me that I'm able to play at a high level,'' said Mickelson, who turned 46 in June and is starting to check out colleges for his oldest daughter, 17-year-old Amanda. ''I'm starting to see my game come back. I'm starting to hit the shots again - what I'm visualizing, what I'm seeing - and doing it with ease now.''

He had only two winless years on the PGA Tour, 1999 and 2003, until going the last two years without a victory. The British Open wasn't his only close call. He missed a short putt at Pebble Beach to get into a playoff with Vaughn Taylor. He closed with a 67 to finish second in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. And then there was Royal Troon, where his 267 was topped only by Henrik Stenson's 264 in British Open history. Call that a case of bad timing.

Even so, three runner-up finishes is the most Mickelson has ever had in a year that he didn't win.

Next up is a three-week break before he plans to play all four FedEx Cup playoff events. He has announced that after the Ryder Cup, he will play the Safeway Open that starts the 2016-17 season in Napa, Calif.

''I wouldn't say the lack of a win this year would be a failure, but it wouldn't be as successful as I want or expect,'' Mickelson said. ''However, I'm optimistic heading into these next few events because I'm starting to hit shots.''

Lost in this winless year is that Mickelson is on the verge of qualifying for his 11th straight Ryder Cup team. He has never been a captain's pick. Perhaps even more amazing is that his passion is still high in his 25th year on the PGA Tour.

''It's been very frustrating for me when I arrive to the course and shots aren't coming off,'' he said. ''Trying to hit fades and it's drawing. Ball is not starting down my intended line. All those things have been very frustrating, but that has not been the case this year. The ball is starting down my line. The feel and touch is starting to come back. I'm starting to shoot some good scores. So I'm excited about where it's going.''


JACK'S (NEW) STAND: Jack Nicklaus didn't understand why golfers would not want to go to Rio for the sport's return to the Olympics after 112 years, and opinions grew stronger when Rory McIlroy said he took up golf to win championships, not grow the game.

Nicklaus changed his mind, however, during the opening of The Golden Bear Grill last week in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The 18-time major champion said he initially felt bad for golf when top players began withdrawing, thinking it was selfish on their part to not help grow the game.

''Then I started thinking more about it and thought maybe I shouldn't have said that because it's not about that,'' Nicklaus said. ''They aren't about growing golf right now. They are into playing golf. I'm into growing golf because I'm past my time. ... I've taken the opposite side of my own opinion.''


FAST START: Bryson DeChambeau tied for fourth in his professional debut at Hilton Head in April, and it appeared he would be a lock to go straight from college to the PGA Tour and earning a full card.

Instead, that honor might go to Jon Rahm of Arizona State.

He waited until after the U.S. Open to turn pro, and the Spaniard tied for third in his pro debut at the Quicken Loans National. Then, he tied for second at the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago. He has yet to miss a PGA Tour cut in four starts as a pro. Rahm made the cut in four of the five PGA Tour events he played in college.

The high finishes over the last six weeks enabled him to take special temporary membership, making him eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions. That's not a big deal because only three tournaments are left.

Rahm is playing the Travelers Championship this week, and he is likely to finish the equivalent of top 125 on the money list to earn a full PGA Tour card. The last player to do that was Bud Cauley in 2011.

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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