Notes Ryder Cup players could miss PGA Championship

By Doug FergusonJuly 20, 2010, 11:41 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – For years, one of the perks of making the Ryder Cup team was an automatic spot in the PGA Championship, as both are run by the PGA of America.

Starting last year, the PGA changed its criteria so that Ryder Cup members of the most recent team must be within the top 100 in the world ranking. And with a change in the Ryder Cup selection process to allow for four captain’s picks, that could have ramifications this year for as many as four American players.

Boo Weekley, last seen galloping down the fairway at Valhalla in the Ryder Cup, has plunged to No. 166 in the world with only three top 10s in the last two years. He has not played a major this year.

Justin Leonard is No. 98 in the world, while Ben Curtis is No. 97 and Chad Campbell, who did not qualify for St. Andrews, is No. 93.

“As the process of the Ryder Cup team has changed – the captain now has four picks – there’s more of a chance the players picked are not highly ranked,” said Kerry Haigh, championship director of the PGA. “So those four players had no trouble getting into the PGA Championship last year.”

This year is a different story.

Leonard has yet to finish in the top 10, with his best result a tie for 14th in the U.S. Open. He lost in a playoff the last time the PGA Championship was held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2004. Curtis, a runner-up in the PGA Championship two years ago, has only one top-10 this year. Campbell started the year with a tie for eighth in the Sony Open, and didn’t have another top 10 until Hartford.

The deadline for being inside the top 100 in the world is Aug. 2, after two more PGA Tour events.

Even if those players fall out of the top 100, that doesn’t mean they will be shut out of the PGA Championship. The top 70 in PGA points automatically get in, and Leonard is 76th. The points are based on money earned on the PGA Tour since the last PGA Championship.

Plus, the PGA retains the right to invite whoever it wants.

“It depends on how they’re playing, but they’ll get all due consideration,” Haigh said. Asked if a player from the most recent Ryder Cup team would get more consideration for an invitation, he replied, “Absolutely.”


SUCCESSFUL 17th: The Royal & Ancient was criticized for adding 40 yards to the famous 17th hole at St. Andrews, although chief executive Peter Dawson said the intent was to bring the road back.

It would be hard to describe the change to the Road Hole as anything but a success.

Among the signature moments from the British Open was Miguel Angel Jimenez going across the road next to the wall, and banging his shot off the wall and back onto the green.

“I think the 17th tee has been a great success in terms of stiffening the test of that hole,” Dawson said. “I said at the beginning of the week, we were hoping that the road might come more back into play, and by gosh, it did. We had far more people on the road this year through the back of the hole than I’ve seen at previous Opens in recent times. To that degree we are very pleased with the hole.”

Only 38 percent of the players hit the 17th green in two.

And while the road got plenty of attention, there wasn’t too much trouble in the Road Hole bunker at the front of the green. There might be an explanation for that. Dawson said the front of the sodden wall was not as vertical as in previous years.

Dawson said the incline was at 67 degrees, which was about 3 or 4 degrees less severe than previous years.

“We wanted to give the players some kind of change of getting out, rather than no chance,” Dawson said.

The 18th hole has to rank among the easiest closing holes in championship golf. Perhaps it’s prudent to look at the 17th and 18th as a package finish of par 4s. The 495-yard 17th had an average score 4.665, while the 357-yard 18th had an average score of 3.629. So for a “par 8” of the two holes combined, the average score was 8.294.


EURO POWER: Justin Rose won two strong PGA Tour events in a span of three starts, putting him at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings. But it’s still not enough for him to qualify outright for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

Such is the strength of European golf at the moment.

Four of the top five players on the world points list have won in America this year – Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter. Then there’s Paul Casey, who played in the final group at St. Andrews, yet is still not eligible. Neither is three-time major champion Padraig Harrington or Henrik Stenson, who tied for third in the British Open.

“I’ve got some headaches, but I’ve got some good headaches,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said Sunday. “I can pick two teams here that can beat each other on any given day. That’s the strength and that’s the depth of European golf, especially this year.”


SOUTH AFRICAN PRIDE: Gary Player, one of five men to have completed the career Grand Slam, looked beyond Louis Oosthuizen’s victory at St. Andrews to all of South Africa. And his plaudits went a lot farther back then the last couple of years.

Oosthuizen was the sixth South African to win a major, and the fourth in the last 10 years.

“Isn’t it incredible?” he said Sunday evening. “And one of the most amazing things is that South Africa, a small country, has won more majors than any country besides the United States post-World War II.”

Player didn’t just pull that number out of the air.

The South Africans – Player, Oosthuizen, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman – have won 20 majors dating to the first of Locke’s first British Open titles in 1949.

Next on the list is Australia with 15 (Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, David Graham, Kel Nagle, Jim Ferrier, Wayne Grady, Steve Elkington, Ian Baker-Finch, Geoff Ogilvy), followed by Britain with 14 (Nick Faldo, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Paul Lawrie, Henry Cotton, Max Faulkner).

Player also claims Nick Price of Zimbabwe and his three majors, giving “Southern Africa” a total of 23.


DIVOTS: Louis Oosthuizen became the first player born after 1980 to have won a major. … Most of the 50-and-over players at St. Andrews headed up the coast to Carnoustie for the Senior British Open. Tom Pernice Jr. got on the charter to Toronto for the Canadian Open. “I’m playing the regular tour the rest of the way,” Pernice said. He has an exemption to The Greenbrier Classic, and is hopeful of making enough money the next two weeks to qualify for the PGA Championship. … The best measure of Phil Mickelson’s struggles in the British Open? Only once in 16 tries has he finished closer than nine shots of the winner.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The last three British Opens at St. Andrews have been won by a combined 20 shots.


FINAL WORD: “The SBS Championship is going to be like a European Tour event.” – British agent Chubby Chandler, on the PGA Tour’s winners-only tournament that starts the season in Kapalua.

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