Notes: Rory shoots for PGA, European money titles

By Doug FergusonOctober 2, 2012, 10:58 pm

A year ago, Luke Donald made history as the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same year.One year later, Rory McIlroy is in a position to match him.

McIlroy has wrapped up the PGA Tour money title at just over $8 million. No one can catch him even by entering the final three tournaments and winning. It's a little closer on the European Tour.

McIlroy is leading the money list by about $565,000 over Justin Rose, who has at least three tournaments left to reach his minimum 13 events.

A year ago, Donald thought he had the money title wrapped up until Webb Simpson was runner-up at The McGladrey Classic to go ahead of him. Donald entered Disney and ran off six straight birdies on the back nine Sunday to win the tournament and wrap up the money title.


DONALD’S PLEA: Now that the Ryder Cup is over, Luke Donald sets out to complete his European Tour schedule.

He has played 10 tournaments that count toward the required 13 events he must play, although he raised one point that Europe might want to consider.

Why shouldn't the Ryder Cup count?

The PGA Tour for years has counted the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup toward its minimum 15 events for membership. It's not an official event, and there is no money or world ranking points offered.

But in terms of fulfilling commitments to the European Tour, it might be the longest week of the year.

''It's one of the busiest weeks we play all year, hence we'd like to get the European Tour to count it as a counting event,'' Donald said. ''We actually do quite a lot of work that week.''

Donald said he would bring it up to tour officials, and he raised an argument why it should count in Europe even more than it does on the PGA Tour. The European Tour has a financial stake in the Ryder Cup, while net proceeds on the other side of the Atlantic benefit only the PGA of America, not the PGA Tour.

He's not asking for money, only time.

''We all know what a big revenue maker it is for the European Tour,'' he said. ''It's a privilege to play Ryder Cup, but it's still a week's worth of sacrifice. I think at the very least it should count as an event. I don't see why it should on one tour and not the other. I'll raise the question. Hopefully, they'll change it. We'll see. I definitely have the backing of some of the other guys that play out here.''

One of those is Rory McIlroy. They discussed it a week before the Ryder Cup, though the 23-year-old McIlroy is in good shape headed to the final few months of the season. McIlroy already has played in 11 events and still has the Volvo Masters in Shanghai, plus one more in Asia before the Dubai World Championship.

''He made a pretty convincing case,'' McIlroy said of his conversation with Donald. ''For guys playing a global schedule, the Ryder Cup should count toward one of those tournaments. Golf is the easy part in the Ryder Cup week. There's so much going on with gala dinners, photographs.''


OCHOA RETURNS: Lorena Ochoa returns to competition this week in the Ladies Open of France, which starts Thursday at Chantaco Golf Club.

The 30-year-old Mexican retired from full-time golf in April 2010. She is playing on the request of Lacoste, the title sponsor of the tournament. Ochoa was supposed to play a year ago, but she was pregnant. Her son, Pedro, is now 9 months old.

''They've been very good to me being my sponsor for so long, so I'm happy to be here,'' Ochoa said. ''I'm going to try my best. I don't practice anymore, and I'm very relaxed in Mexico. My life is very different right now, so I'm just going to try my best and have a good week and enjoy the crowd and the kids, if they come to watch us.''


FREDDIE'S PULSE: There was pause for concern during the Ryder Cup when U.S. assistant captain Fred Couples was seen getting his blood pressure checked by paramedics in the middle of the day.

Turns out it was just a joke.

''I was walking by that area from the 11th green to the 12th tee where the EMTs are,'' Couples said. ''I said to them, 'Save any lives today?' And they said they weren't very busy so I wanted to give them something to do.''

He asked them to check his blood pressure. When he ran into them Saturday, a tradition had been established, and they did it again.

PGA of America officials checked it out when they learned about the photo, and Couples couldn't figure out what the fuss was all about. Once he realized what had happened, he couldn't stop grinning.

''Look at me,'' he said Sunday, spreading both arms out to the side. ''I mean, I could die tomorrow, who knows? But I'm a model of health, aren't I?''


MICKELSON ON THE MARK: The lasting image of Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup was giving Justin Rose a thumbs-up and approving nod after each of the big putts Rose made on the last three holes to beat him.

Mickelson also left his mark in the record book.

He set U.S. records for playing in the most Ryder Cups (nine) and in the most matches (38). But when Rose beat him, Mickelson set a U.S. record with his fifth loss in singles. Rose previously beat him in 2008. Mickelson also lost to Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia and Phillip Price.

Mickelson tied a Ryder Cup record for largest margin in team play when he and Keegan Bradley defeated Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in foursomes, 7 and 6.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, tied Raymond Floyd for the U.S. record for most losses in foursomes (eight).


WELCOME TO AMERICA: Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium has become the ninth member of the Europe's winning Ryder Cup team to have some form of PGA Tour membership.

He has taken special temporary membership for the rest of the season, meaning he can take unlimited sponsor exemptions. He already plans to play next week in the Frys.com Open at CordeValle in northern California.

Colsaerts has earned $494,386. He would need to earn the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list to earn his card for 2013. He's about $100,000 behind the 125th spot.

Peter Hanson also took up temporary membership. He has $835,211 and is assured of having a full card for next year.

The other Europeans who already have full membership are McIlroy, Donald, Garcia, Rose, Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter.


DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy received two replicas of the Wanamaker Trophy from his win at the PGA Championship. One of them was given to the Holywood Golf Course in Northern Ireland where he grew up. ... Nicolas Colsaerts will hook up with the guy who first introduced power to this recent generation of players. Colsaerts and John Daly have received sponsor exemptions to the Frys.com Open. ... Poulter tied a European record with four points contributed as a captain's pick. Lee Westwood also had four points at The K Club in 2006 when he went 3-0-2. ... Francesco Molinari has played on two winning teams in the Ryder Cup without ever having won a match. He is 0-4-2.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Steve Stricker has never won a Ryder Cup match as a captain's pick. He was 0-2-1 in 2008 and 0-4-0 in 2012. He qualified for the 2010 team at Wales and went 3-1-0.


FINAL WORD: ''As far as team versus individual, it's the lowest point of my year.'' – Jim Furyk after the Ryder Cup.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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