PGA Tour to promote younger generation in 2011

By Doug FergusonDecember 10, 2010, 1:59 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming off its first year without Tiger Woods winning a tournament, the PGA Tour will be leaning on its next generation of players to promote the 2011 season.

Commissioner Tim Finchem said he could not recall greater interest in such a big group of rookies and other young players in his previous 17 years running the PGA Tour.

Among those in their 20s, Dustin Johnson played in the final group of two majors, Rickie Fowler became the first PGA Tour rookie to be selected for the Ryder Cup team and golf had two players in their 20s (Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer) win majors for the first time since 2001. Also starring was Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa, who are not PGA Tour members but will play at least six times in America.

“I think the takeaway on the competition side of 2010, more than anything else, was the tremendous interest in young players coming up,” Finchem said during a conference call Thursday. “I’ve never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players creating exciting performances. Actually, it has led us to conclude that we really need to focus on that dynamic as we go into 2011.”

Finchem said youth will be “our primary promotional focus” because it makes for good theater.

Woods still figures to command much of the attention next season, which begins in one month at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Woods, who hasn’t played at Kapalua since 2005, wasn’t eligible this year.

It was his first year as a pro when he didn’t win a single tournament.

Finchem would not say if he expects Woods to play more in 2011, although he has a feeling that other top players might be adding more tournaments to their schedule.

Off the course, perhaps the most critical component to the new year will be negotiating a new TV contract. The six-year deal with the two networks expires in 2012.

This will be the first time the PGA Tour is dealing only with networks, having signed a 15-year deal with The Golf Channel in 2007. Also different this time is that Comcast, which owns The Golf Channel, is acquiring NBC Sports, a major network for the tour.

Golf is coming off a year of low ratings, mainly because Woods played only six times in America, and didn’t play very well. It also was hurt during the Vancouver Olympics, and Finchem said NFL ratings in September were at an all-time high.

Critical to the negotiations is having title sponsors in place, an area where the tour has done well in a tough economy. It found new title sponsors this year for tournaments at Kapalua, Phoenix, Miami, San Diego, Sea Island and Malaysia. Finchem said 30 percent of the tour’s title sponsors are signed up beyond 2012, which would put them in the next TV contract.

The other business question for the year is whether Finchem decides to stick around.

His six-year contract with the PGA Tour is to expire in 2012, and Finchem said he would need to notify the board this year if he plans to retire. It doesn’t sound as though he’s interested in leaving.

“I’ve often said my goal is to die in office, and I assume I’m not going to die in a couple of years,” he said. “I’m pretty much where I’ve always been on this – as long as the players are happy with the direction we are going and the job I’m doing; as long as my energy level is sufficient to handle what’s involved; as long as our team here is comfortable with my leadership, then I will most likely to be open to staying. But those are three big ifs. I have an open mind at this point, but I’m certainly not in the position of campaigning for it.”
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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